Trapping for Fighting

Today I’d like to discuss the technique called trapping. In my many criticisms of the empty handed Filipino Martial Arts, I use the phrase “patty cake” to insult what many of you regard as your unique, bread-and-butter technique. Do I do this for reaction? Yes, I do. Do I really think trapping is no good? No, I don’t.

But don’t get your panties all in a bunch yet.

If you plan on selectively quoting my articles in order to discredit me on some remote blog or forum or Facebook discussion, consider this:  I am as real a martial artist as many of you will ever meet. Unlike many like me, I am on the computer—now on Facebook (thekuntawman at yahoo dot com)—and I do all the things internet warriors do. But don’t get it confused, in person, I may smile and be friendly, but I will still embarrass you on the floor. Even moreso if you decide to “compare’’ techniques. I am not an internet warrior, and doing what many of you do to martial arts characters on the net will ensure that you will be offered a match should we meet in person. I am not a very nice guy if you are bold enough to accept. By the way, of those FMA guys who bad mouth me on the internet—NONE have ever accepted an in-person challenge. Funny how my winning smile can pull the bitch out of the toughest of martial artists.

Now, trapping has its place in the martial arts. FMA people do tend to overemphasize the utility of trapping, yet they underemphasize its use in sparring, and therefore are not very good at it. I can beat most trapping artists with a jab-cross, but it isn’t because of the merit of trapping; it’s because I understand punching and most trap artists do not. Another good reason is that I use a fight-based training method and most that use trapping use a drill-based learning method. There is a big difference between the two, and if you go back and revisit some of the articles I’ve written on training versus practice, you will understand what that difference is.

First, trapping is not something beginners should be spending much time on. If I had it my way, beginners wouldn’t spend any time on it at all. Before a student can begin to even entertain the idea of using a trap on a living, breathing, combative opponent, he must first know how to punch. He should have more than simply the basics of how to punch, but he should be well-versed at it. He should know how to use his maximum speed without compromising the form of his punch, as well as how to hit full power while keeping in form. He should also understand the timing of a punch (both in executing and countering one). He should know the concepts of punching in combination, power mechanics, and movement. If punching is the cake, then trapping is the sprinkles. If you have dry, tasteless cake, adding a ton of sprinkles only gives you a cake that looks good. Hopefully you can make the connection.

In order for you to have effective trapping, you must have good command of your hands. You must be able to punch (literally) with your eyes closed. You should be able to function in the clinch, and rely on sensitivity and not your eyes. You must never be caught out of position while exchanging; otherwise you will neither have immediate access to those trapping skills—nor your access to counter-trapping skills.

You must also be able to both stop and evade a punch as well. Trapping does you no good if you do not have the ability to stop your opponent’s hands, as in the process of exchanging blows you will have to control your opponent and stop his other hand from attacking while you “do the do”. If the opponent is able to hit you at will, your hands will not have a target when you are attempting your traps. If you are lucky enough to catch a hand or forearm, you will not be able to capitalize on the opponent’s very temporary immobilized position.

Which leads me to the next point. You must understand the dynamic nature of fighting with hands. All who overemphasize trapping do so because they do not understand what fighting with hands is all about. If you did, you would know that a good majority of techniques out there that represents “in fighting”, “close quarters” and “trapping” simply won’t work. Why? Here’s a secrets:  Trapping is a temporary… no, VERY temporary… no, split-second… no, milli-second thing. Yes the trap is in the blink of an eye, and if you go to Youtube and search “Panantukan” or “trapping fighting” or one of the other buzz words, you will notice that almost all the guys out there—even those who are considered the best—think that trapping snares you all the time in the world to do what you have to do. Trapping is so temporary, that if you can trap a real jab—you are one bad mofo.

Let’s repeat this, kiddies. TRAPPING =/= JAB DEFENSE. In other words, the first indication that your Guro will get his ass whipped in a match with thekuntawman is that he attempts to convince you that you can trap a jab. A real jab.  Let’s put a “period” at the end of this point. No further explanation is necessary. Period.

Okay, coming up on a thousand words, so my bat-indicators and spidey-sense is telling me I am about to teach people for free again. Now, if you want to learn how to trap for real—and you are in Northern California, then plop down the $45 to take my Punching Seminar on Feb 19th. It’s from 2 – 4 p.m., and you will need a headgear (preferable with a face cage, people keep stealing mine), handwraps, closed-fingers gloves, and a focus mitt. Come in 30 minutes early and I will teach you to wrap your hands and how to make a fist. And be prepared to stay over about an hour, as we may go longer than two hours. Hit me on Facebook if you’d like to learn more.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

4 thoughts on “Trapping for Fighting”

  1. I was a little confused by the article, though that is due to my own fault. When you say trapping, are you referring to when catching their arm and can then progress to a throw or hold/submission?

    I am confused, because I utilize two other forms of what I would consider trapping, through I could honestly just be confusing terminology. I hope you will correct me.

    One trap I use, particularly against taller opponents who cannot handle my much shorter (and thus utilizable in short range) reach, is to step on their foot, stopping them from retreating. I’ve gotten very good at it, to the point if I do it I can pretty much gaurantee the person is not moving, no matter their size. Of course, I say that because that is the case nowadays. There is always an exception, and more to the point, someone will find a way around it, apart from the ones I have.

    Because after a while people do it to you, though don’t quite wield it as effectively. They don’t apply enough pressure. I consider this a trap, because it brings the fight, in many aspects, not only to my playing field, but I literally can reach their height, or close to it, depending how much I actually stand on the foot and maintain a grounded stance otherwise.

    Another, is that I will throw a kick in a manner so that they WILL either grab or catch it. It is true they could throw me, but the majority of the time people just grab and try to attack, which is what I’d like. I’ve noticed people who do this are often those who are more… personal in the match. When you get strikes in, they feel they must hit you back, as opposed to focus on say blocking, or evading more. So of course it’s a matter of choose what strategy, for the right opponent. And while a lot of people say I’m crazy for doing that, often it means they’ve handicapped themselves. They have one arm to block both of my arms which always engage in a flurry.

    And I use a heavy burst, between 6-8 hand strikes. And if i wanted, they could break cinderblocks. Anytime I do a hand drill, and one of my strikes falters because of fatigue, or laziness, or whatever bullcrap reason I can come up with, I automatically redo the ENTIRE drill from scratch.

    Trapping I think can mean a number of things, so I am hoping you could clarify or correct what I wrote. Apologies for the length.

  2. I teach that trapping is indeed an opportunity that passes in about 200ms and if missed can’t be gained and also that looking for a trap is a big mistake as your mind will be fixed on trying to make something happen as opposed to actually doing something about what is happening in the here and now. It is rare to see a good trap, most happen when a fellow has his opponent against a wall as localizing the opponent gives you a better window to work trapping, and your consistent pressure slows down the response time of the opponent.
    A way to trap a jab is when it is on it’s way in (and you best know what you are doing) and never forget the opponent has other tools you may have to immediately contend with (if you know anything at all). In a way the ability to have very quick recognition and springing off that trigger is essential to pulling off any effective method as relying on luck equals having no concept of strategy.
    I am once again in agreement that the way this material is demonstrated does a grave injustice to REALITY and what really matters is getting things right so you need not suffer or your loved ones the consequences of unrealistic training…no matter whom it may “honor”….Bottom line is this…”What you pass on in class be sure it can save your ass.”

    Peace Out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.