Shao tran / Nikkyo in Seiyunchin kata

Seiyunchin is a kata that contains many locks and holds within its bunkai.  This is hardly surprising when one considers the meaning of its kanji: to control and pull in battle.

For me the "king" of all qin-na wristlocks is the one I know as "shao tran" (or more accurately, "xiao chan" meaning "small wrap") - also known as the "z-bar" and (in aikido) as "nikkyo/nikyo" (although I avoid using the latter since the wristlock is only a small part of the particular series of techniques described by that name and which translates as "second lesson").

Seiyunchin covers many variations of shao tran in its applications.  I was recently asked to describe these, so I prepared the following short video in response:

When practising shao tran you should take care not to use brute force: shao tran is a technique that requires very little pressure.

The late ju-jutsu master Jan de Jong used to tell me that the weight of one finger was all it took to produce excruciating pain - and he would then proceed to demonstrate this most ably. I have never in my life experienced such pain. While I was pain, furiously tapping my thigh, he would say, in polite terms: "So you see sir, it takes very little effort" (he called everyone "sir" despite being arguably one of the greatest living masters of jujutsu at that time).

Twenty something years later I've got a fairly good feel for shao tran, but still nothing like Master de Jong had with his 60+ years of experience.

The golden rule is, if you have to push hard, you're not doing it right.

When you get it right (ie. just the right angle of the z-twist, just the right angle of pressure) your opponent should collapse like a sack of wheat, tapping his/her thigh furiously. It's very satisfying.

In the end, it's all in the angles. And every opponent's angles are subtly different due to his or her unique physiology. 

I always say to beginners that one day they'll be able to "feel" the subtle differences in a new opponent when they apply the lock on him or her, a bit like an experienced safe-cracker.

For the time being, if you're not getting an easy response from your partner, back off or you risk damaging his wrist joint by using brute force. Just keep practising...

Copyright © 2008 Dejan Djurdjevic