Trapping (martial arts)

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Trap Fighting
Focus Striking
Hardness full contact
Famous practitioners Paul Varelans
Olympic sport No

In martial arts, trapping refers to both a combat range and a technique used to immobilize an opponent in such a way that they cannot escape yet are still susceptible to very close range striking. Sometimes referred to as clinch fighting or stand-up grappling. The other combat ranges are: Kicking, Punching and Grappling.

Trapping range[edit]

The trapping range is usually entered from boxing range, where the majority of punching takes place; although not always. It is at this range where hand immobilization (trapping), knee strikes, elbow strikes, headbutts, and foot stomps take place. While in the trapping range, fighters utilize forward pressure as much as possible while striking. This makes defense against these strikes very difficult as the defender is constantly being forced back away from his opponent. Trapping is usually accomplished by simultaneously trapping an opponents arms while applying short range strikes.

The trapping range is usually the least understood of the four combat ranges. In any physical altercation the interaction between two opponents can be classified within the four combat ranges. The natural flow and continuity of a fight can move between ranges very rapidly or slowly depending on the circumstances.[1]

An important concept in range classification is that they do not necessarily need to flow in natural order of proximity. Fighters can move between a kicking range to a grappling range immediately, totally bypassing the punching and trapping ranges. The flow between combat ranges was defined as "closing the gap" by martial arts pioneer Bruce Lee.[2] It was Lee who formalized many of the concepts and classification of the combat ranges which he utilized in constructing his martial arts system of Jeet Kune Do.[3] The trapping range falls between the punching and grappling ranges. It differs from the punching range in that the strikes all travel a shorter distance than a full punch. Strikes are usually performed rapidly and with increased frequency. These strikes are usually difficult to counter as they travel shorter distances than punches and kicks and thus leaves less time to react. The trapping range differs from the grappling range in that the grappling range usually does not employ strikes as a means of subduing an opponent. Grappling weapons in that range typically consist of chokes, arm-bars, leg locks, and ankle holds. The grappling range usually employs techniques that attempts to subdue an opponent rather than incapacitate them through strikes designed to render them unconscious.


There are various hand trapping and immobilizing techniques that can be utilized in the trapping range. An opponent's attempt at blocking a strike can be turned into a devastating trap. Traps can cross an opponents hands, in a manner where they cannot continue to block. These types of traps can be seen especially in Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do [4] Hand trapping can be followed by some type of muscle or nerve destruction. This can be done by attacking inherent vulnerabilities in the construction of human hands and arms. Hand trapping skills can be important to offset an opponents blocks. An opponent's block is sometimes referred to as an obstruction. Fighters well versed in the trapping range learn techniques that will remove these obstructions, or go around them. This training enables a fighter to strike their opponent while immobilizing their arms. Effective traps are ones that tie up an opponent's two arms while utilizing just one of your own.

See also[edit]


  2. ^ Hartsell, Larry (1984). Jeet Kune Do Entering to Trapping to Grappling. New York: Unique Publications. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-86568-051-7. 
  3. ^ [1] Jeet Kune Do: About Trapping
  4. ^ [2] Jeet Kune Do's Trapping Range Pt. 3.

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