Crossed Twigs (Blue #15)

Technique: Crossed Twigs
Attack: Rear Two Hand Wrist Grab
Attack Direction: 6:00
Web of Knowledge: Grabs & Tackles
Family Group: Grabs: Wrist Grabs
Official (24 Tech) Location: Blue #15
32 Tech Location: Purple #28
16 Tech Location: Green #8
Form Locations: Short Form 3
Related Tracy Technique: Shackle Break

Crossed Twigs is the 15th required technique to obtain your Blue Belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo.  Crossed Twigs is a defense against a two hand wrist grab from the rear, placing it in the grabs & tackles category of the Web of Knowledge as well as the Wrist Grabs Family Group in the Grabs category of the family groups Grappling division.

This technique was designed in order for you to appraise the merits of using a matching counter to control your opponent’s zones of protection and prevent his retaliation.  Torque and Marriage of Gravity are the sources of power for your actions and you are acquainted with the  principle of compounding by the logical insertion of an elbow strike to your opponent’s jaw. Finally a focus is placed on the flow of action and economization of motion.

The Technique


In the ideal phase your opponent is directly behind you (6:00). Your opponent grabs both of your wrists in order to restrain you; his right hand grabbing your right wrist and his left hand grabbing your left wrist.

An opponent grabbing you in such a position has several options available to him other than simply restraining you. You could be restrained as another attacker strikes you, he can pull you backward putting pressure on your shoulder joints, he could pull you backwards as he drives a knee into your lower back or it could be used as a transitional stage to put you into a more serious type of grappling maneuver (hug, hold, choke, lock).


Crossed Twigs –  defense for a rear double wrist grab.

  • Step 1
    • Counter grab both of your opponent’s wrists with your hands,
    • Step toward 1:30 with your left foot to form a right reverse bow stance,
    • Pull your opponent downward and forward with both of your hands.
  • Step 2
    • Pivot clockwise to form a right neutral bow stance facing 7:30,
    • Deliver a right outward upward elbow strike through your opponent’s right jaw as you cross your opponent’s arms (right over left).
  • Step 3
    • Pivot clockwise into a right forward bow stance facing 7:30
    • Continue the flow of action of your right arm, crossing your opponent’s arms, by pulling his right arm down and behind you.
  • Step 4
    • Release your grasp with your right hand,
    • Deliver a right inward overhead elbow strike to your opponent’s upper spine,
  • Step 5
    • Release your grip with your left hand,
    • Deliver simultaneous right and left downward heel palm strike’s to your opponent’s left kidney and left rib cage, grabbing and pinching them,
    • Execute a left upward knee kick to your opponent’s right ribs.
  • Step 6
    • Plant your left foot back to point and origin
    • Execute a right front crossover
    • Cover out twice toward 1:30.


  • What if…
    • your opponent pulls you back?
    • your opponent forces you forward?
    • your opponent cross grabs your wrists from behind?
    • your opponent grabs your elbows instead of your wrists?
    • your opponent breaks your grip before the elbow strike?
    • your opponent breaks your grip as you are crossing his arms?
    • you are unable to step forward?


  • As you pivot clockwise, keep your opponent’s left arm below the level of your buttocks. Alternatively, you can use your buttocks to anchor your opponent’s left arm in place.
  • It is important to keep in mind that steps 2 through 4 are meant to be one continuous flow of action.
  • Be sure that when you are crossing your opponent’s arms, you do not pull the right arm horizontally.  You open yourself up to an elbow in the face. This could even occur without your opponent’s intent should you lose your grip on his wrist.
  • To maximize the effect of the right inward overhead elbow strike employ marriage of gravity by dropping into a right wide kneel stance as the elbow makes contact with your opponent.
  • Consider working on tightening your circular paths of action. See how it improves your timing and places your moves in sync; increasing the speed and force of your strikes.
  • Practice counter grabbing a partner’s wrists and get the proper feel for its application. Doing so will induce proper and successful manipulation of your opponent.
  • Compare to other techniques and determine how creating an Angle of Disturbance works in your favor.
  • Note the various types of body momentum used in this technique and how often it occurs.
  • Work on timing when applying the sandwiching effect in order to maximize its potential.

Additional Information


In American Kenpo the term twig is used to represent the arms. In this technique your opponent’s arms (twigs) are crossed as part of your defense giving us the name Crossed Twigs.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Left Front Step Through
  • Right Reverse Bow Stance
  • Right Neutral Bow Stance
  • Right Outward Upward Diagonal Elbow Strike
  • Right Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Inward Overhead Elbow Strike
  • Right Wide Kneel Stance
  • Left Downward Heel Palm Strike
  • Right Downward Heel Palm Strike
  • Left Upward Knee Kick
  • Right Front Crossover
  • Cover Out


  • Face
  • Jaw
  • Upper Spine
  • Left Kidney
  • Left Rib Cage
  • Right Rib Cage

Concepts & Principles

  • Anchoring
  • Angle of Cancellation
  • Angle of Disturbance

Concepts & Principles (Con’t)

  • Angle of Entry
  • Angle of Execution
  • Angle of Incidence
  • Backup Mass
  • Body Momentum
  • Borrowed Force
  • Continuity of Motion
  • Contouring (Fitting)
  • Control Distance
  • Detaining Check
  • Economy of Motion
  • Figure 8 Pattern
  • Gravitational Check
  • Lower Case/Upper Case
  • Marriage of Gravity
  • Matching Counter
  • Obscure Zones
  • Opposing Forces
  • Pivoting
  • Purposeful Compliance
  • Purposeful Defiance
  • Rounding The Corners
  • Sandwiching
  • Solidify Your Base
  • Torque
  • With

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

1975 Accumulative Journal

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal, Crossed Twigs is Blue Belt Technique #12
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal has you; step toward 1:00 on the initial move, pivot clockwise toward 7:00, crossover and cover out toward 12:00.
  • The 1975 version has you deliver a right horizontal elbow strike to your opponent’s jaw which creates two problems; the angle isn’t correct requiring you to cock before delivering the strike and it invites you to continue the flow of motion horizontally which opens the possibility of your opponent delivering an elbow to your face.  The angle has been officially changed in future versions.

Historical Versions

CROSSED TWIGS (rear two-hand grab to wrists)

  1. With feet together and opponent grabbing your wrists from the rear counter grab both of opponent’s wrists (right to right and left to left) as you step to l o’clock with your left foot (into a left neutral bow ).
  2. Pivot clockwise facing 7 o’clock (still maintaining wrist grabs) as you cross your opponent’s arms (right over left) in the process, have your right elbow strike horizontally and outward to opponent’s right jaw and continue to pull opponent’s right arm down with your right (have your left hand which is grabbing opponent’s wrist pull down and below the level of your buttocks).
  3. Release only your right grasp and circle counter clockwise with your right looping inward overhead elbow strike down to upper spine of opponent.
  4. Release your left grasp and with your right, double heel palm, grab, and pinch opponent’s left kidney and ribs as you kick your opponent’s right ribcage with your left knee.
  5. Replant your left foot to point of origin. Right front crossover and cover to 2 o’clock.

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