Trapping hands is a popular aspect of Wing Chun. By definition this classical Wing Chun technique can be described as the action of crossing and therefore trapping your attacker’s arms. That said, Wing Chun trapping may be more effective and relative to a self defence confrontation than a boxing, kickboxing, or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match. So, why is trapping trained extensively within the Wing Chun community?
Trapping hands is a popular aspect of Wing Chun. By definition this classical Wing Chun technique can be described as the action of crossing and therefore trapping your attacker’s arms. This action takes a degree of skill since you are required to manipulate the arms of the person attacking you. That said, Wing Chun trapping may be more effective and relative to a self defence confrontation than a boxing, kickboxing, or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match. It is also certainly not a movement that we would suggest in our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. So, why is trapping trained extensively within the Wing Chun community?
Well partly because there is a misunderstanding of the action of trapping. To the untrained eye it may look like some sort of lock found in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or any other martial art. However, it differs in that the arms are typically crossed and not locked together. In fact, the idea is shrouded by the myth that once applied your attacker will be magically incapable of moving. Of course the reality is that any person who has their arms trapped will fight frantically to free them. In doing so they may lift or pull their arms out to punch back in retaliation.
So why do we train Wing Chun trapping hands and is it really useful for self defence?
The simple answer is that as a technique it has limited value for a self defence confrontation. In this context, the only advantage that you gain is the opportunity to quickly strike your attacker once their arms are incapable of defending. Put simply, if your attacker cannot quickly retrieve their arms, then you will have a clear path to attack their throat or any other target above the arms. However, most aggressors can and will attempt to retrieve their arms to attack you.
Yet the concept of Trapping is more ingenious than a simple trick in which you think you have rendered your attackers arms incapable. Trapping in Wing Chun develops your awareness of time, space, and energy. Once trapped, there becomes a sense of urgency in which you must strike or seek to reinforce the trap. In this sense, practicing trapping improves your timing and ability to move quickly with both arms. Understanding the physical changes in the space between you and your attacker is also important. Here, your ability to close the space between your bodies not only reinforces the trap but gives you more leverage in which to hold their arms in a crossed position. Hence it allows you to conserve your energy.
Tapping is essentially the ability to control space, but the training builds an awareness of how your attacker’s arms move in a restricted space. The benefit of this is that you will develop a quick awareness of where both arms are relative to your physical position. Overall, trapping is useful for self defence because it allows us to cross the arms of the attacker. If their arms are crossed then they will find it very difficult to swing punches at you. Hence, your attacker cannot defend against your counter attack. However, you only have a split second in which to follow up when you trap the person’s arms, so use it wisely.
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