Lama Pai Kahm Na (Chin Na)

22 Apr

The following is a re-print of an article I wrote which appeared in “Inside Kung Fu” magazine in the 1990’s

Lama Kung-Fu “Kahm-Na” Techniques By David A Ross

A truly complete fighter must understand not only the strengths and applications of his various techniques but their limitations as well. Under certain circumstances, a particular technique can be the key to victory. Under different circumstances, that very same technique can mean certain defeat.
For example, you may have extremely powerful kicks and punches but you should never rely on striking techniques alone. In the average street fight, kicks and punches often don’t land exactly on target and there are always those exceptional individuals who are able to withstand tremendous amounts of punishment. Full body throws and takedowns can also be devastating but have similar limitations. Against a larger, stronger opponent who is struggling it is often difficult, if not impossible, to set up and complete a throw.

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For all these reasons, Kahm-Na is a necessary addition to any fighter’s arsenal. More commonly known by its Mandarin dialect pronunciation of “Chin-Na”, Kahm-Na is one of the four fundamental skills necessary for complete fighting mastery. It is an extremely broad term encompassing many different skills and techniques including joint manipulation, strangulation and specialized striking techniques aimed at soft targets on the body.

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Basic Kahm-Na techniques

1) Fun Gun (joint manipulation)
In Cantonese, “Fun” means to divide and “Gun” refers to connective tissues (i.e. both ligaments and tendons). Fun Gun refers to joint manipulation techniques achieved through twisting, pulling, and pushing. These actions cause the connective tissues to be stretched and/or separated and result in pain which can be used to convince an attacker to discontinue his attack. These are the most commonly seen and taught Kahm-Na techniques and can also be found in non-Chinese systems such as Jujitsu and Hapkido

2) Cho Gwat (bone breaking)
In Cantonese, “Cho” means placed wrongly and “Gwat” refers to bones. Together, “Cho Gwat” means placing the bone in an incorrect position.

3) Jaau Gun (muscle, tendon and/or ligament seizing)
This “Jaau” is pronounced exactly the same as the word for “claw” and is a verb referring to the use of the claw to seize or tear. Jaau Gun is related to Fun Gun because both cause the connective tissues to be stretched and/or separated and result in pain. However, Jaau Gun refers to those techniques in which the separation is accomplished by actually grabbing and using physical strength. For obvious reasons, Jaau Gun requires superior hand strength.

4) Baai Heih (strangulation)
In Cantonese, “Baai” means to seal and “Heih” refers to not only internal energy but the breath and the blood as well. Baai Heih involves depriving the opponent’s brain of blood and oxygen in order to render the opponent unconscious (i.e. strangulation). The simplest way to achieve this is to wrap either your arm or your leg around the opponent’s neck and to squeeze. However, it is also possible to seal the breath by using striking techniques. Strikes can be used to cause muscles in the rib cage to contract and thus prevent the opponent from inhaling. .

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Practical application of Kahm-Na techniques

Obviously, you must be relatively close to your opponent in order to apply Kahm-Na techniques. It should also be pretty obvious that your opponent isn’t going to simply give you his arm and allow you to apply your technique. Kahm-Na techniques must be used in combination with kicking, punching, trapping and throwing techniques in order to be effective.

Kicking, punching and trapping allow you to close the distance safely and have the additional benefit of simultaneously “softening” your opponent. Once you are close to your opponent, there are a wide variety of options. First, you can attempt a full body throw. However, as discussed previously, full body throws are often difficult, if not impossible, to set up and complete. Partially completed throws may be followed by a Kahm-Na technique to end the confrontation. For example, a hip throw might be followed by the application of an arm bar or a double knee lift might be followed by a leg lock.

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Because the use of Kahm-Na techniques was so common among fighters in traditional China, Lama Kung-Fu developed a wide variety of defenses against Kahm-Na techniques. Of course, one must first learn the many Kahm-Na techniques before one can learn their reversals. For this reason, students of Lama Kung-Fu learn a wide variety Kahm-Na techniques. In this way, they learn to be a complete fighter.

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