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Category Completions | Arm Bars

Kenpo has a lot of cross-referencing going on in the system, basically different ways to do the same thing or ways to handle an attack in varying circumstances; techniques are designed, in other words, to increase your options. Maybe someone grabs you from behind but there’s a wall in front of you: One technique demands you must step forward, but another one lets you step back. Options.

Family Groupings, category completions, what-if’s and the formulation phase: All of these are included in the system to give you options; options that you’ll need.

And you are taught all the ways you can do a certain move or use a certain move. Here we are going to take one example: The arm bar. In Kenpo, you learn how to do the arm bar in various ways.

This first example is from a technique called Gift in Return. It is against an unfriendly handshake. You slip to the left and punch into the attacker’s bladder or groin and at the same time use the leverage of the punching arm to drive his own arm between his legs. You then reach around with your left hand and grab the wrist of that arm that you drove between his legs and put your other hand (your right hand) on his right hip. At this point you are using the attacker’s own leg to bar his arm at the elbow joint; using that arm bar, you pull on his arm and push on his hip; this turns him and open him up for a kick to the leg and knee to the tailbone.

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You slide your right foot back to line up with his centerline as you pull on his arm and push his hip.

You slide your right foot back to line up with his centerline as you pull on his arm and push his hip.

So at that point in the technique you are applying an arm bar using your opponent own leg. By the book the technique ends with a side kick to the back of the knee and a knee to the tailbone.

In Cross of Destruction, against a choke from behind, you end up using the attacker’s own arm to bar his other arm.

You pin his thumbs to your shoulders and tweak them; then step out, into a horse stance, to the left; you then step with your right foot to the back 45 and pull on his right arm; this makes him step and opens up his right knee for the subsequent front kick; you kick his knee and land using his own right arm to bar his left arm at the elbow joint; you release him and drop an elbow into the body. Notice here that early on in the technique, you’ve gotten your opponent’s body crooked, off-balance–this is known in Kenpo as angle of disturbance: Putting the opponent in a position in which they are not upright and balanced and so can’t fight and are vulnerable. This can lead, too, to angle of cancellation, an angle that nullifies the opponent’s ability to move adequately or use his weapons. You can find this principle used in many Kenpo techniques, all the techniques being designed to cancel the opponent’s ability to fight, open him up to attack and giving you an advantage, yourself still being upright and steady.

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It should be noted too that in this technique, you are checking off your opponent by crossing up his arms and bending him sideways at the waist. Whatever will get him off kilter, bend crooked, works to your advantage. To fight properly a person must be upright and balanced, ready to use their arsenal. Disrupting his alignment will check him and put him in a vulnerable position.

In the technique Crossing Talon, against a cross wrist grab, you have kind of the standard arm bar. You use your own arm to put pressure on his elbow joint to bar his arm. Note that too that you step into the opponent to the right 45 (degree angle) as you begin application of the arm bar; this is to cancel his back-up weapon, so is a form of checking.

James reaches across and grabs Joe's right wrist with his right hand, with the intention of doing some other harm to him.

James reaches across and grabs Joe’s right wrist with his right hand, with the intention of doing some other harm to him.

Joe anchors his right elbow and counter grabs by circling his right hand clock-wise and on top of James' wrist.

Joe anchors his right elbow and counter grabs by circling his right hand clock-wise and on top of James’ wrist.

With his left elbow Joe strikes up into James arm and rolls the arm into an arm bar as he steps in to the 45.

With his left elbow Joe strikes up into James arm and rolls the arm into an arm bar as he steps in to the 45.

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In the extension for Calming the Storm, you perform the arm bar while on the inside of his centerline, using another way to cancel him while in the centerline by the way, using the inside of your forearm.

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When James comes in with the roundhouse club attack, Joe steps in with a left outward block and punch to the face, disrupting James' depth zone and using borrowed force on the punch.

When James comes in with the roundhouse club attack, Joe steps in with a left outward block and punch to the face, disrupting James’ depth zone and using borrowed force on the punch.

Joe bumps James' right shoulder with his right hand to open his centerline.

Joe bumps James’ right shoulder with his right hand to open his centerline.

Joe delivers a couple punches to the body

Joe delivers a couple punches to the body

Joe applies the arm bar here by putting pressure on the elbow joint with his right forearm while maintaining control at the wrist with his left hand.

Joe applies the arm bar here by putting pressure on the elbow joint with his right forearm while maintaining control at the wrist with his left hand.

Joe pulls with the right which brings James' head forward and down and finishes.

Joe pulls with the right which brings James’ head forward and down and finishes.

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In Locked Wing, the arm bar is applied with your opponent behind you getting you in a hammerlock. You step back and bump him to create space and drive an elbow to the face. You claw through his eyes and then apply the arm bar with your left arm on his right arm that is applying the hammerlock. This moves him more to your side so that your back is not so much to him and he’s not behind you. Plus, it gets his head down, which is a common goal in Kenpo because it cancels his height zone and checks him off and you have more control when you control where his head goes. You then follow up with a knee and elbow.

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So there you have several variations of how to do an arm bar in the Kenpo system. Understand the Kenpo system is intended to be a complete system showing variations on ways to do a multitude of things. It is an analytical study of motion, with reverses and opposites, cross-references, category completions and many alternatives and options. You could spend a lot of time exploring the system finding various category completions, for instance. It is endless and it’s up to you to examine and learn about the system and what it has for you to use and understand.

Other Considerations

Basically, in this series of techniques you have learned to manipulate the opponent into position using his arm and the hinge principle. In other techniques you use the hinges at the leg and hip to manipulate the opponent into position. Consider these:

  • Dance of Death: You grab his leg and elbow him at the hinge in the middle of his body–the waist or hip.
  • Brushing the Storm: You grab his ankle and pull it up as you push on his hip, driving his face forward and down.
  • Gift in Return: You use his hip and arm to move his leg and put him in position where you have access to his targets.

In addition, you strike a joint to put him in position.

  • In Aggressive Twins, you kick his knee to open his centerline. This can also be considered a chop with the foot, another cross-reference.
  • In Calming the Storm, you use a chop to the shoulder to open his centerline. Just as you chopped with your foot to open his centerline, here you chop with your hand to open his centerline.

 

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