Obscure Sword (EPAK Orange #22)

Technique: Obscure Sword
Attack: Right Flank Left Hand Rear Shoulder Grab
Attack Direction: 4:30
Web of Knowledge: Grabs & Tackles
Family Group: Grabs: Shoulder/Lapel Grab
Official (24 Tech) Location: Orange #22
32 Tech Location: Orange #21
16 Tech Location: Purple #16
Form Locations: Not found in forms
Related Tracy Technique: Broken Staff

Obscure Sword is the 22nd technique required to obtain your Orange Belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. It is a defense against a left hand shoulder grab from the right rear flank. This places Obscure Sword in the Grabs & Tackles category in the Web of Knowledge as well as the Shoulder Grabs family group in the grabs subcategory of the Grappling Division of Family Groups.

This technique stresses the importance of environmental awareness due to the initial attack and defense coming from blind areas.  In Obscure Sword we will learn to use the opposite of purposeful compliance, purposeful defiance, to elicit a specific response from your opponent before using purposeful compliance to unleash our hidden strike.


Obscure Sword – defense for a right rear shoulder grab.

  • Step 1
    • Pin your opponent’s left hand with your left hand
    • Step forward to 12:30 with your left foot to form a left forward bow stance facing 12:30,
    • Cock your right hand below your left elbow in a handsword position.
  • Step 2
    • As your opponent tugs, pivot clockwise to form a right forward bow stance facing 4:30.
    • Deliver a right outward horizontal handsword strike to your opponent’s throat.
  • Step 3
    • Pivot counter clockwise into a right neutral bow facing 4:30,
    • Deliver a right extended outward block to clear/check your opponent’s left arm,
    • Left hand covers low,
  • Step 4
    • Deliver a left front snapping ball kick to your opponent’s groin, planting back.
  • Step 5
    • Right Front Crossover
    • Cover out toward 12:00.

Additional Information


As we have come to learn the term Sword in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo is the term used to symbolize a handsword strike. In this technique you will deliver a handsword strike from an angle obscurity or rather from an area that your opponent is unable to view, thus the name Obscure Sword


In the ideal phase, your opponent is behind you and to the right (4:30) and grabs your right shoulder with his left hand.

While the shoulder grab itself isn’t extremely dangerous the fact that your opponent is grabbing you from a blind spot make it that much so. You have no idea what is coming next and have to rely on instinct and feel to know how to react.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Left Forward Step Through
  • Right Reverse Bow Stance
  • Right Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Outward Horizontal Handsword Strike
  • Right Neutral Bow Stance
  • Right Extended Outward Block
  • Left Front Snapping Ball Kick
  • Right Inward Raking Hammerfist Strike
  • Right Front Crossover
  • Coverout


  • Left Hand/Wrist
  • Throat (Trachea)
  • Left Inner Forearm
  • Groin/Bladder
  • Face

Concepts & Principles

  • Angle of Deflection
  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Body Rotation
  • Borrowed Force
  • Counter Manipulation
  • Opposing Forces
  • Pinning Check
  • Pivot
  • Point of Origin
  • Purposeful Compliance
  • Purposeful Defiance
  • Solidify your Base
  • Obscure Zones
  • Object Obscurity
  • Torque


  • What if …
    • your opponent pushes you forward?
    • your opponent follows the grab with a right punch?
    • your opponent follows the grab with a right kick?
    • your opponent grabs your right arm with his right hand at the same time?
    • you are unable to step forward?

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal this was orange belt technique #21.
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal has you pivot into a forward bow facing 5:00.
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal does not indicate an angle of departure.
  • Prior to 1975 a version was taught having you plant back from your kick at a further distance as the beginning of a shuffle away from your opponent.

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

OBSCURE SWORD (flank left hand shoulder grab)

  1. With feet together, step directly forward (to 12 o’clock) with your left foot into a left neutral bow facing straight ahead with your right handsword cocked to your heart (palm up) simultaneously pin opponent’s right hand with your left hand to your right shoulder.
  2. Immediately pivot to 5 o’clock into a right forward bow while delivering a right outward handsword to opponent’s throat.
  3. Deliver a left kick to opponent’s groin and plant your left foot back to your former position with your hands in fighting position.



Having just kicked your opponent in the groin, forcing them to bend over it is quite common to toss in an additional move before executing a crossover or as you execute the crossover. The common variations are:

  • Right Inward Raking Hammerfist Strike to your opponent’s face.
  • Right Roundhouse Punch (hook punch) to the left side of your opponent’s face.
  • Right Inward Striking Claw to the left side of your opponent’s face.
  • Right Inward Collapsing Heel Palm Strike to the left side of your opponent’s face.

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