Last night we worked  on snake applications again and Joe has some footage he’s working on to show some of this very soon.

We worked on some grappling and escape in free application as well as looking at specific applications. I was thinking about the grappling this morning. Some points came to mind from the training so here’s some notes about Snake Xing and the training we did last night.


David remarked that I was using all of my body. So when I’m in contact I don’t just use my hand or arm to control but my chest, head, elbow, leg, knee, hip. Anything that can press into the opponent can control them.

Using your body weight rather than strength is important.

If I sink my weight in a clinch then the opponent is drawn down with me if they try to use their strength they have to lift or push all of my body mass. Imagine trying to lift an 80kg sack full of water which moves and sloshes around!

When you make contact and stick to the opponent (somewhat specific to the heavy snake strategy) this must also affect the opponent in some way or they will simply hit you. Some people may call this “taking the centre”.

When you connect you need to make the opponent react, even this is a momentary tensing up or using their strength to pull their arm back, this can give you a momentary advantage.

Remain calm even when pressured. There is a line within the Xing Yi Classic of Unification which says

“Even though the structures are endless, the Qi is one… Thus when attacked you will not provide openings, and when pressed hard you will not become disarrayed”

and within the classic of fighting

“Do not be greedy and do not wither; do not assume and do not be negligent”

This means that you can use any method or technique when the movement and energy are unified, you move with the opponent and respond accordingly. Even when the opponent is pressing hard and seems to have an advantage you remain calm and work with what you are given.

Don’t try to make things happen as you want them to but work with the moment. Do not assume that you can make something work and do not forget that the opponent is trying to beat you too, you can’t be delusional.

Sometimes it will seem like I take strikes and just continue. This is not the case, I will always adapt and move to deflect a strike, I will never knowingly allow a strike to hit me full bore square and centre. Snake strategy wants to gain close control so will sometimes let a strike come very close or make contact but yield with the movement in the direction of the strike to suck or draw that limb in and trap it.

This drawing in of strikes can be quite scary to the practitioner especially to beginners, it involves allowing your opponent to come very close to landing heavy damaging strikes on you and you must remain composed. The beginner will often try to keep their distance or hold back strikes holding the opponent’s arms or pushing their arms away so as to stop the incoming energy. This is just a delaying strategy, with all your effort focused on defending you are not putting the opponent in any risk, there is no way you can beat them the best being to remain in stalemate, but often they will eventually find a way in.

So you must learn to accept the incoming strikes rather than press them away. Sometimes these strikes may land and though you turn them away they can hurt. You learn to accept this, sometimes you get hit, sometimes it hurts, but then it’s your turn!

Reacting to being hit or thinking you will be hit allows the opponent to gain the advantage, even momentarily and you then have to work double hard to regain your position. There is no rush to beat the opponent, they will help you overcome themselves.

Don’t worry too much about the “what if’s”. The specific applications don’t always work, or the conditions to allow them to work don’t always arise. This links again with the quotes above. If you spend time trying to manufacture or set-up an application then you might miss opportunities or the opponent may take advantage of this.

At one point I grabbed Joe’s arm and stuck to it and David said “what if he strikes with the other hand” and I just said “okay” and as Joe tried to hit me I twisted and wrapped the other arm, pressing both his arms into my body allowed me to release one of my own arms for a moment to strike. There was no set application just the use of principle and strategy from Snake.

There is always a “What If”, what if he kicks, what if he pulls out before the grab, what if he bends his elbow, what if he turns his back, what if he has a semi-automatic assault rifle… you just work with the what ifs.

The more experimental free practice you do the more the what ifs start to seem irrelevant, your opponent can do whatever they want and you will respond, not always with the best response but you will respond.

With more practice the responses will become more appropriate. With intimacy with your art and the animals the responses will adhere more with the art or the animal strategies. You will move away from painting by numbers to making masterpieces (slowly :))