Tripping Arrow (Blue #12)

Technique: Tripping Arrow
Attack: Front Bear Hug, Arms Free
Attack Direction: 12:00
Web of Knowledge: Holds & Hugs
Family Group: Holds & Hugs: Bear Hugs
Official (24 Tech) Location: Blue #12
32 Tech Location: Purple #25
16 Tech Location: Green #12
Form Locations: Not found in forms
Related Tracy Technique: Reaching For The Moon

Tripping Arrow is the 12th technique required to obtain your Blue Belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo.  Tripping Arrow is a defense against a Front Bear Hug with your arms free, placing it in the Hugs & Holds category of the Web of Knowledge and the Bear Hug Family Group in the in the Holds & Hugs category of Grappling division.

Tripping Arrow is designed to teach you the concept of a strikedown counterbalanced with a buckle and how to make use of a forward bow stance to buckle and trip your opponent.  While the initial move of Tripping Arrow appears to leave you open you prevent your opponent’s retaliation by controlling his Height Zones.  Several new basics will be utilized for close range striking and the striking of your opponent’s lower height zones which brings us to Tripping Arrow’s introduction of strikedowns.

Many styles of Martial Arts use takedowns to force their opponent to the ground.  Takedowns utilize the throwing actions to force and opponent to the ground, and it is the impact with the ground that causes the initial injury.  Although considered a takedown, strikedowns are much more effective.  Since you are striking your opponent to the ground, his injury occurs instantly, as well as with the resultant impact with the ground.  Strikedowns are often counterbalanced with buckles.

The Technique


In the ideal phase your attacker is directly in front of you (12:00) and grabs you in a bear hug, leaving your arms free.


Tripping Arrow —  front bear hug, arms free.

  • Step 1
    • Step toward 9:00 with your left foot to form a horse stance,
    • Your left hand grabs your opponent’s right shoulder and pulls downward,
    • Deliver a right inward horizontal heel palm strike to your opponent’s left jaw hinge (finger in, thumb down).
  • Step 2
    • Circle your right foot clockwise, around and behind your opponent’s right leg (toward 4:30) and buckle it by planted firmly into a horse stance,
    • Simultaneously circle your right hand counter clockwise, delivering a right overhead inward downward elbow strike to your opponent’s chest as you cock your right hand, palm up and out, at your right shoulder.
  • Step 3
    • Pivot counterclockwise toward 9:00 form a left forward bow stance,
    • Deliver a right thrusting heel palm strike to your opponent’s jaw,
    • Maintain a grab on your opponent’s right arm with your left hand as he falls to the ground and reinforce this by grabbing with the right hand as well.
  • Step 4
    • Pull upward on your opponent’s right arm with both of your hands,
    • Deliver a right thrusting heel stomp into your opponent’s right armpit.
  • Step 5
    • Release your opponent’s arm,
    • Sweep your opponent’s right arm with a right front crossover sweep toward 4:30
    • Cover out twice.


  • What if…
    • your arms are pinned?
    • your opponent lifts you off the ground?
    • your opponent buries his head into your chest?
    • your opponent grabs onto your right arm as he falls?
    • your opponent is taller than you?


  • The first move will pin your opponent’s right arm, underneath your left arm as you lower your center of mass and shift your opponent’s weight to his right leg.  It is vital that you pull downward on your opponent’s right shoulder as this will nullify his leverage preventing him from delivering an otherwise possible knee strike to your groin.
  • The circling motion of your right arm in a counter clockwise motion maintains a continuous motion, clears your opponent’s left arm and builds up power for the downward elbow strike to the sternum, culminating with the cocking of the right hand at the right shoulder.
  • It is important that you properly land in a horse stance and then shift into a forward bow.  Many students try to land in directly into the forward bow stance usually in an attempt to make the technique faster.  Proper form and timing are vital to this technique.  Practice timing the shift into the forward bow stance with the heel palm strike to the face.
  • On the heel stomp, depending on your opponent’s position, you may need to strike the chin, ribs or kidney. Placing it in the armpit can help facilitate a shoulder dislocation.
  • Note the similarities and differences between this technique and Snapping Twig.


  • Some schools teach a variation where you drive your left elbow into the opponent’s forearm on the initial move.  Keep in mind, the initial move as taught is designed to pin your opponent’s right arm under your left arm.

Additional Information


In American Kenpo, the Forward Bow Stance used to be called the Bow and Arrow Stance. In this technique you use a forward bow and arrow stance as a means of tripping your opponent. Thus the name Tripping Arrow.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Left Side Step Through
  • Horse Stance
  • Right Inward Hooking Heel Palm Strike
  • Right Overhead Inward Downward Elbow Strike
  • Left Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Thrusting Heel Palm Strike
  • Right Downward Heel Stomp
  • Front Crossover Sweep
  • Cover Out


  • Right Shoulder
  • Jaw (Mandible)
  • Sternum
  • Face
  • Right Armpit
  • Right Arm

Concepts & Principles

  • Anchor
  • Angle of Cancellation
  • Angle of Contact
  • Angle of Departure
  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Angle of Entry
  • Angle of Execution
  • Angle of Incidence
  • Backup Mass

Concepts & Principles (Con’t)

  • Body Alignment
  • Body Momentum
  • Bow and Arrow Stance
  • Buckle
  • Center of Mass
  • Double Check
  • Contouring
  • Control Manipulation
  • Counter Balance
  • Counter Manipulation
  • Diversified Angle of Retreat (with foot)
  • Economy of Motion
  • Fitting
  • Gravitational Check
  • Guidelining
  • Mid-Point Balance
  • Obscure Zones
  • Opposing Forces
  • Pinning Check
  • Point of Delivery
  • Point of Origin
  • Purposeful Release
  • Rounding The Corners
  • Sliding Check
  • Solidify Your Base
  • Strikedowns
  • Tripping
  • With

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal, Tripping Arrow was Blue Belt Technique #9.
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal indicates the following differences for Tripping Arrow;
    • that you should circle your right leg toward 3:00
    • that you should circle your right arm clockwise to cock your right hand at your right shoulder.
    • that you should heel stomp your opponent’s chin.
    • that your angle of departure is 5:00

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

TRIPPING ARROW (front bear hug — arms free)

  1. With feet together and opponent applying front bear hug with your arms free, step to your left with your left foot (to 9 o’clock) into a horse; simultaneously hooking your right heel of palm horizontally and in to strike opponent’s left jaw hinge. Your left hand is checking and anchoring your opponent’s right shoulder or arm by forcing and pulling it down thus nullifying opponent’s leverage and ability to deliver a right or left knee kick.
  2. Immediately circle your right foot clockwise and back and around of opponent’s right leg (to 3 o’clock) and buckle it by planting heavily into a horse stance. Right hand also circles clockwise and cocks at your right shoulder (palm up).
  3. Without hesitation, pivot to your left (toward 9 o’clock) into a left forward bow as you thrust your right heel of palm to jaw of opponent, thus tripping him over your right leg, still maintaining left hand grab on opponent’s right arm.
  4. With opponent on his back and your left hand grab now at opponent’s right wrist, have your right foot heel stomp under opponent’s chin. If your opponent turns from the momentum and slips out of your grasp, stomp kick to opponent’s right kidney or ribs.
  5. From stomp kick, release grasp and sweep opponent’s right arm with your right foot as you execute a right front crossover and cover out to 5 o’clock.

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