Snaking Talon (Blue #9)

Technique: Snaking Talon
Attack: Two Hand Push
Attack Direction: 12:00
Web of Knowledge: Pushes
Family Group: Pushes
Official (24 Tech) Location: Blue #9
32 Tech Location: Blue #2
16 Tech Location: Green #9
Form Locations: Form 4
Related Tracy Technique: Crossing The Mountain

Snaking Talon is the 9th required technique to obtain your Blue Belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. Snaking Talon is a defense against a two hand push from the front, placing it in the Pushes Category of the Web of Knowledge as well as the Pushes Family Group in the family groups Striking Division.

Snaking Talon uses a snaking movement to deflect and control an opponent’s attack thus introducing you to controlling your opponent’s height and width while following the path of a figure 8.  It is an example of the squeegee principle which allows room for error.  The same action that cancels your opponent’s height zone can be used to borrow force.  Another important theme introduced in Snaking Talon is the use of your environment as an offense where you will be introduced to using a crossover as a cocked weapon as well as the rear (reverse) chicken kick as a defensive weapon.

The Technique


In the ideal phase your opponent is directly in front of you (12:00) with his back is against a wall.  Your opponent then steps forward with his right foot and pushes towards your chest with both hands.


Snaking Talon – defense for a high two-hand push.

  • Step 1
    • Step back toward 6:00 with your left foot to form a right neutral bow stance facing 12:00,
    • Deliver a right inward downward diagonal parry to your opponent’s left arm.
    • Your left hand checks medium height.
    • Continue moving your right arm underneath and to the outside of your opponent’s right arm.
    • Deliver a right outward downward diagonal parry to the outside of your opponent’s left arm.
    • Left hand checks at your solar plexus.
  • Step 2
    • Continue your right hand’s flow of motion, grabbing your opponent’s right wrist with your right hand.
    • Slide your right foot back into a transitional right 45° cat stance.
    • Pull your opponent’s right arm down toward your right hip
    • Deliver a right front snapping ball kick to your opponent’s groin.
  • Step 3
    • Without planing your right foot, execute a right front crossover toward 7:30.
    • Swing the opponent’s right arm toward 9:00.
  • Step 4
    • Release your opponent’s right wrist.
    • Pivot counterclockwise to deliver a left spinning back heel kick to your opponent’s abdomen.
    • Hop onto your left leg while edging toward your opponent
    • Immediately follow with a right back kick (chicken kick fashion).
  • Step 5
    • Execute a right front cross over
    • Double cover out toward 7:30.


  • What if…
    • your opponent’s left foot is forward?
    • your opponent throws a left-right punch combination?
    • your opponent throws a right-left punch combination?
    • your opponent attempts a two-hand choke?
    • your opponent grabs your lapels with both hands?
    • your right arm is injured?
    • you are standing on a slippery surface (ie. ice, mud)?
    • you cannot step backward?
    • your right hand slips off your opponent’s wrist?


  • The first move is meant to be a continuous motion of your right arm in a figure-eight pattern, breaking this move into step-by-step movements doesn’t do it justice.  It is vital that it be kept in mind that this technique, and this belt level for that matter teach fluidity of motion.
  • After parrying your opponent’s left arm, it is quite possible that your opponent’s momentum is still driving his right arm forward.  Be cautious as you are snaking your arm and delivering the outward handsword block to the outside of the right arm as you can easily catch yourself.  Naturally, timing and proper technique are the most critical factor here but the insertion of a minor left inward parry will assist you in clearing your opponent’s arm.
  • Be sure to use Geometric Paths when executing your figure eight pattern, do not overreach your blocking arm and be sure to keep your right elbow anchored.
  • After the front snapping ball kick, the 1975 Accumulative Journal has you step toward 7:00 with your right foot into a right front twist stance vs the modern stepping toward 7:30 with your right foot into a left rear twist stance. The difference is not really in the direction you are stepping but in the name of the stance.  Although the footwork is the same, the name of the stance determines the direction you are facing.  The 1975 version has you facing away from your opponent as you would be facing toward the direction of your  ‘right front‘ foot .  The updated version has you facing your opponent as you would face toward the same direction as your ‘left rear’ foot.
  • It is important to be thoughtful of looking over the left shoulder first (as you execute the left spinning back kick) and then look over the right shoulder as you deliver the right back kick.
  • It should be kept in mind that your attacker has his back to the wall.  After you deliver the left spinning back kick, your opponent hits the wall which would typically cause your opponent to bounce off the wall or begin to fall forward.  Either way the attacker is now moving in your direction and your response is to stop his forward progression with a right rear kick.  If your opponent is not coming towards you after your left kick, the right kick is pointless.
  • Study the relationship between Snaking Talon and Five Swords.
  • Study the relationship between Snaking Talon and Delayed Sword (as well as it’s predecessor, Retreating Warrior).
  • Determine what techniques Snaking Talon may be grafted to.


  • The first variation in this technique is in the attack itself.   Everyone has their opinion on the push, be it a driving two-hand push, a non-committed two-hand push, simply a forceful two hand shove.  The common theme however is the fact that it is a two-hand push.  Another factor about the attack that is often left out is the key fact that the technique as described places your attacker’s back to the wall.
  • An option for step 2 is to deliver a left inward heel palm strike to your opponent’s right elbow joint at the same time you  jerk their right arm toward your hip and deliver the front snapping ball kick to their groin.
  • Another option for step 2 is to insert a four-finger eye strike as you jerk your opponent’s right arm toward your hip and deliver the front snapping ball kick to their groin.
  • While rare, some schools actually teach you to plant forward after the right front snapping ball kick in order to gauge distance between you and your opponent.
    • Opinion:  I personally have not seen this variation in any official documentation or notes, but I have seen it.  While this sounds feasible written out it alters the original technique.  First it changes the attack, your attacker could no longer be against a wall, as he would need to go back after moving in to attack.  Next you would have to alter step two by removing the grab and jerking motion then changing the front snapping ball kick to a front thrusting ball kick. Only then could your opponent stumble back enough to provide enough distance to allow or require you land forward and deliver the left spinning rear kick.  Finally without the wall, your technique would end here as your opponent would not move forward after the left spinning rear kick to the solar plexus.  I believe that this variant is better suited as a what-if scenario. If anyone has any further insight into this variation, please share with me. It is quite possible that I am simply missing something.
  • Different schools will teach different directions to move when executing the right front crossover into a twist stance.  These directions range from 7:00 to 9:00. The actual direction to move is not set in stone but is situational.
  • Some schools will teach the chicken kick, some will teach a two kick combination.  Regarding the chicken kick this is also broken down into two schools of thought. Those that deliver the first kick as a minor kick (to gain momentum) and those who deliver it with force working off your opponent’s body to deliver the second.

Additional Information


In American Kenpo, the term talon is used to represent a wrist grab and the snaking is used to refer to an action that twists or entwines around various parts of your opponent.  Snaking specifically comes from the figure eight pattern of your right arm as it entwines through your opponent’s arms, ending in a wrist grab or talon.  Thus we have the name, Snaking Talon.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Left Reverse Step Through
  • Right Neutral Bow Stance
  • Right Inward Handsword Block
  • Right Extended Outward Handsword Block
  • Right Transitional 45° Cat Stance
  • Right Front Snapping Ball Kick
  • Right Front Crossover (again at end)
  • Left Rear Twist Stance
  • Left Spinning Back Heel Thrust Kick
  • Right Back Heel Kick
  • Cover Out


  • Radial Nerve
  • Right Wrist
  • Groin
  • Solar Plexus

Concepts & Principles

  • Anchoring
  • Angle of Cancellation
  • Angle of Deflection
  • Angle of Deviation
  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Backup Mass
  • Body Momentum
  • Borrowed Force
  • Catch(ing)
  • Contouring
  • Controlling the Gap
  • Counter Balance
  • Environmental Impact
  • Figure Eight Pattern
  • Obscure Zones
  • Opposing Forces
  • Positional Checking
  • Sandwiching (Environmental)
  • Spinning
  • Squeegee
  • Transitory Moves

Related Techniques

  • Alternating Maces (Y-2)
  • Hooking Wings (P-15)
  • Destructive Twins (B-22)
  • Circling Fans (3rd Br-3)
  • Parting of the Snakes (3rd Br-19)
  • Entwined Maces (2nd Br-21)

Historical Notes

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal, Snaking Talon was blue belt technique #18.
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal
    • has you step toward 7:00 into a right front twist stance.
    • describes the double back kick as a ‘reverse chicken kick’.
    • indicated 6:00 as the angle of departure.

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

SNAKING TALON (front two-hand push)

  1. With feet together, drop back with your left foot to 6 o’clock into a right neutral bow as your right hand loops a figure eight, first with a right inward handsword on the outside of opponent’s left hand and a right extended outward handsword on the outside of opponent’s right hand, grasping his right wrist with your right hand while fading back into a right front 45° cat stance.
  2. While your right hand pulls opponent toward you (to your right and down), deliver a right ball kick to opponent’s groin (kicking toward 12 o’clock).
  3. With your right kicking foot still in the air, have it right front crossover into a right front twist stance toward 7 o’clock.
  4. Immediately pivot counter clockwise and deliver a left reverse spinning back kick to opponent’s abdominal area toward 12 o’clock.
  5. With back facing your opponent, hop on to your left leg while edging toward opponent (gauge distance correctly) and deliver a right back kick (this is actually a reverse chicken kick) to any opening opponent may have preferably the face or chest.
  6. Right front crossover and cover out twice toward 6 o’clock.

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