Applied Trap Hands

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts' started by pesilat, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    First, the material in this article is my personal take on trap hands. I have been exposed to trap hands through several arts and systems but my primary understanding of trap hands comes from my training in Filipino Kali. I will, though, in this article reference some Chinese terminology (Jun Fan or Wing Chun) because most people familiar with trap hands have been exposed to these.

    My understanding of trap hands has been influenced by many people but there were two really big influences I’d like to mention. The first was my instructor, Guru Ken Pannell at Asian Fighting Arts in Dayton, Ohio.

    (visit for more information on him and his school).

    The second was Guro Dan Inosanto. While I’ve never trained as a student of Guro Dan, I’ve attended many seminars with him over the years and he has had quite a bit of impact in my evolution both as a martial artist and as an instructor. For people unfamiliar with trap hands I hope this article will serve as a useful introduction. For people familiar with trap hands this material will be very basic and only my personal terminology/organization of it will be new to you (and even it may be familiar) but I hope you will find a useful nugget in my ramblings that you can use.

    First, I’ll define what “trap hands” means to me so that we’re all on the same page for the rest of the article. “Trap hands” is a broad term that, to me, simply means “obstacle removal.” I want to place my weapon (i.e.: foot, knee, head, elbow, hand, stick, knife, etc.) on a target (i.e.: my opponent’s nose, eye, throat, solar plexus, etc.) and there’s an obstacle (i.e.: his parry, his footwork, etc.) preventing it. If I remove the obstacle and place my weapon on the target then I have successfully applied trap hands.

    I break trapping into 2 categories: Passive and Active. I’ve heard these terms used by others, but in a different way. For me, an “active” trap might be the classical Jun Fan “slapping hand” (Pak Sao) trap. I trap his arm, for instance, to his body and actively hold hit there long enough to hit him. A “passive” trap might be from a Jun Fan “jerking hand” (Jut Sao) where I jerk his arm down with my right hand, then “bounce” off his arm with
    a right uppercut into his chin. I’m not actively holding his arm out of the way but it can’t get back into the action quick enough to prevent my hit.

    In my personal method, trap hands have six timings; one training timing and five applied timings. The training timing is, of course, for training and tool development. It might be from a static posture such as was illustrated in “Enter the Dragon” by Bruce Lee on Bob Wall (connect hands wrist-to-wrist then train the trapping from there). Or it might be from a more fluid and mobile platform such as Wing Chun’s Chi Sao drill or the Filipino Hubad Lubad drill (where my personal understanding of trap hands was developed).

    The five timings in application are:
    1. I set the timing with a tactile reference (Set/Tactile)
    2. I set the timing without a tactile reference (Set/Non-Tactile)
    3. I steal his timing with a tactile reference (Steal/Tactile)
    4. I steal his timing without a tactile reference (Steal/Non-Tactile)
    5. Interception

    To illustrate these timings, I’ll use the slapping hand (Pak Sao) except in the illustration of an interception.

    1. (Set/Tactile) As he punches, I lift my right arm in a block/deflection and this sets a “tactile reference.” As it touches, my left hand slaps the forearm of his punching arm and traps it to his body (active trap). My right hand (without retracting or chambering … economy of motion is critical to the application of trap hands) fires a punch to my target.
    2. (Set/Non-Tactile) As he punches, I slap immediately with my left hand to the forearm of his punching arm and trap it to his body while my right fires a punch down the now unobstructed line.
    3. (Steal/Tactile) As I punch with my right, he lifts his right arm to block/deflect and gain timing. As it touches my arm, I “steal” his timing with my left hand and slap the forearm of is right arm, trap it to his body, and my right punch continues to its target.
    4. (Steal/Non-Tactile) As I punch with my right, he lifts his right arm to block/deflect. Before it touches my arm, I “steal” the timing with my left, slap, trap, and my right hand continues toward its target.
    5. (Interception) He throws a right cross. I throw a left jab. My left forearm connects with his right forearm tangentially (this would usually be accomplished with a body shift to my left so that when I fire my left jab straight toward his face, it cuts the line of his right cross at a slight tangent). This moves his right cross off-line and causes it to miss its target while my left moves straight to its target.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2010
  2. g-bells

    g-bells Don't look up!

    Nice post!!!
  3. BlindClown

    BlindClown tinit

    You have described it well , its easy to get confused when trying to explain trapping hands

    Nice Post !
    Hans Larrave likes this.
  4. SenseiMattKlein

    SenseiMattKlein Engage, Maverick

    Trapping and lock flow

    We did some of this when I trained with Rayneer Fabi of Bakbakan International. Had some very good lock flow moves, some of which we incorporated into Kenpo Freestyle. Great trapping techniques in Bakbakan.
  5. AnxietyCoachJoh

    AnxietyCoachJoh Valued Member

    I have also read your other post, though both are really interesting, you have done a very good job for this one. You have explain it well. :D
  6. aiem

    aiem Valued Member

    Very helpful for an interested viewer like me. I think I want to give it a try, as it would be applicable to my m. art as well. Thanks for the post!
  7. hyaxasa

    hyaxasa Banned Banned

    My understanding of trap hands has been influenced by many people but there were two really big influences I’d like to mention. The first was my instructor, Guru Ken Pannell at Asian Fighting Arts in Dayton, Ohio.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2015
  8. Robert Sterling

    Robert Sterling New Member

    You have a deep understanding about this style of martial art. Thanks.
  9. lisa121

    lisa121 New Member

    I’m really impressed with your article, such great & useful knowledge you mentioned here
  10. JeniferLoby

    JeniferLoby Banned Banned

    Informative and very impressive post thanks for sharing.
  11. Hans Larrave

    Hans Larrave New Member

    Now this is how you post on a Forum.

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