Monday, May 24, 2010
Review: Chin Na Fa
Chin Na Fa, first published in 1936 is the first modern look at the grappling arts of China. Originally written by Liu Jinsheng and Zhao Jiang, this new edition is translated by martial artist and grappling expert Tim Cartmell.
As Cartmell describes in the preface, "This work represents primary source material of ancient combat techniques designed to restrain, control, injure, or kill an opponent in hand-to-hand combat."
Cartmell goes on to say that the intent of this book is to provide historical documentation for ancient techniques that have been modified for competition and self-defense.
With that in mind, techniques shown in this book will be familiar not only to Chinese martial arts practitioners, but to those who study Judo, Aikido, Jujitsu and similar arts. Perhaps being somewhat Chinese-centric, the author provides us once again with historical evidence that Chinese Grappling arts pre-dated those of Japan:
"During the Ming Dynasty, Chen Yuanbin traveled to Japan and taught the skills of seizing and locking as well as wrestling."
Another startling revelation author Liu Jinsheng provides, referring to traditional Chinese martial arts:
"Those who have practiced these arts twenty or thirty years have never defeated anyone who has practiced Western boxing or Judo. Why is this? It is because the practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles only pay attention to the beauty of their forms - they lack practical methods and spirit and have lost the true transmissions of their ancestors. Hence, our martial arts are viewed by outsiders merely as rigorous dancing."
That's a pretty strong indictment of traditional arts, coming from a master of those arts.
"Chin Na Fa" was written for the battlefield soldier and policemen. The techniques can indeed cripple or kill.
As I stated earlier, this book is important in it's historical context. There are generally only one or two pictures of each technique, but the text reads clearly and it's easy to follow. There are however, no contemporary names or numbers for the acupressure and vital points, which only have Chinese names in their description. People familiar with the points shown will recognize them by their description.
Grapplers in other methods will also see techniques they practice, some that have interesting entries and counter-techniques. There's lots of tearing, ripping, choking, and even techniques for tying people up with a belt.
While it's not the most comprehensive book I've seen on the subject, it provides an honest historical view of combat arts in the time of trench warfare. Practitioners of Chinese martial arts as well as other grappling arts will find the book useful.
You can find "Chin Na Fa" and hundreds of other martial arts titles at the website for Blue Snake Books, LINKED HERE.