Dance of Death (EPAK Orange #3)

Technique: Dance of Death
Attack: Front Straight Right Punch
Attack Direction: 12:00
Web of Knowledge: Punches
Family Group: Striking: Punches
Official (24 Tech) Location: Orange #3
32 Tech Location: Orange #3
16 Tech Location: Orange #3
Form Locations: Form 5
Related Tracy Technique: Dance of Death

Dance of Death is the 3rd technique required for Orange Belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo.  Dance of Death is for straight right punch from the front placing it in the Punches category of the Web of Knowledge as well as the Punches Family Group in the Family Group Striking Division.

In Dance of Death we are introduced into take downs, the figure eight pattern (a use of the continuity of motion learned in the last technique) as well as Family related moves.  Aside from the introduction of new ideas, Dance of Death, details the value of initiating your moves from their point of origin.


Dance of Death – defense for a right straight punch.

  • Step 1
    • Step toward 11:00 with your left foot to form a left neutral bow stance.
    • Deliver a left left thrusting inward block to your opponent’s right arm.
    • Your right arm rests and hangs naturally at your side.
  • Step 2
    • Maintain a left hand check on your opponent’s right arm.
    • Pivot counterclockwise to form a left forward bow stance.
    • Deliver a right underhand reverse handsword strike to the groin.
  • Step 3
    • Slide your left hand down behind your opponent’s right knee and pull upward,
    • Step forward with your right foot to form a right neutral bow stance,
    • Deliver a right inward horizontal elbow strike to your opponent’s right rib cage.
  • Step 4
    • Deliver a right outward downward back knuckle strike to the inside of your opponent’s left knee
    • Left hand holds the opponent’s right leg.
  • Step 5
    • Drop into a right wide kneel stance
    • Deliver a right inward downward finger slice to the groin.
  • Step 6
    • Clear the opponent’s leg to the right with your right hand.
    • Execute a right front crossover and a double cover out toward 7:30

Additional Information


The name Dance of Death isn’t really evident until you learn the extended version of this technique in 1st Brown.  The series of moves in the extension, which involve several stomps, appear dance like when performed in the air. This sequence can have a very devastating result that can lead to death, thus the term Dance of Death.


In the ideal phase your attacker is directly in front of you.  They throw a right straight punch with their left leg forward.

This technique is often taught incorrectly as a right step through punch with the attacker stepping forward with his right leg while throwing the punch.  While the technique can work for a right step through punch, as evidenced by the B version of Tracy’s Dance of Death (Tracy’s 3rd Brown),  it is important to realize that this technique is designed for a right straight punch with the left leg forward because if the right leg is forward you run the risk of having their right leg tracking up your right leg and into your groin during the take down.

If there is to be a step through at all with the right punch, it would be a left step through, thus making this a right lunge punch with a left step through.

Basics & Maneuvers Used

  • Left Forward Step Through
  • Left Neutral Bow Stance
  • Left Thrusting Inward Block
  • Left Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Underhand Reverse Handsword Strike
  • Right Forward Step Through
  • Right Inward Horizontal Elbow Strike
  • Right Outward Downward Diagonal Back Knuckle Strike
  • Right Inward Downward Diagonal Finger Slice
  • Right Wide Kneel Stance


  • Right Elbow
  • Groin
  • Back of the Right Knee
  • Right Rib Cage/Solar Plexus

Concepts & Principles Taught

  • Angle of Cancellation
  • Angle of Deflection
  • Angle of Departure
  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Body Momentum
  • Bracing Angle
  • Clearing
  • Continuity of Motion
  • Contouring
  • Figure Eight
  • Marriage of Gravity
  • Obscure Zones
  • Pivoting
  • Point of Origin
  • Slipping
  • Takedown


  • What if …
    • your opponent steps through with his right leg?
    • your opponent attacks with full body momentum?
    • your opponent precedes his punch with a right straight kick?
    • your opponent jabs with his left hand before throwing the right punch?
    • your opponent grabs your right arm as he falls?
    • your opponent’s right leg slips from your left grab after he falls?

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal has you step toward 11:00 during the initial step
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal has you step toward 10:00 to buckle the right knee.
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal ends with the take down.
  • The 1987 Studio Manuals have you step toward 10:30 on the initial step.

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

DANCE OF DEATH (font straight right punch)

  1. Standing naturally, step forward and to your left to 11 o’clock (into a left neutral bow) with your left foot (to get out of the line of attack). simultaneously strike to the outside of opponent’s right punch with your Lift Inward block as your right arm rests and hangs naturally to the right side of your body.
  2. With your left hand still guarding (with a left bracing angle), strike to opponent’s groin with A right upward vertical reverse handsword while pivoting into a left bow.
  3. Immediately step through and to your left to 10 o’clock into a right neutral bow with your right foot (to buckle opponent’s right knee) as your right elbow strikes horizontally and into opponent’s right ribcage while your left hand grabs back of opponent’s right knee and pulls toward you so that your left hand grab concludes the grab (after sliding along the leg) at your opponent’s right ankle.

Unfinished Orange Belt Manual by Ed Parker

DANCE OF DEATH (Front straight right punch, with left leg forward)

  1. Standing naturally, step forward toward 10:30 with your left foot into a left neutral bow (facing 12:00) as you get out of the Line of Attack. Simultaneously deliver a left inward block to the outside of your opponent’s right punch (ending at or above the elbow) as your right arm hangs naturally to the right side of your body. (Your inward block will nullify the width of your opponent’s body.)
  2. Immediately pivot into a left forward bow (facing 12:00). While still maintaining a left BRACING ANGLE CHECK to your opponent’s right arm with your left hand, strike to your opponent’s groin with a right underhand reverse handsword. (This strike should cause your opponent to bend forward at the waist, and possibly move back.)
  3. Immediately step through with your right foot into a right neutral bow (facing 12:00) “with” a right inward horizontal elbow strike to your opponent’s right lower ribcage. During this action, your left hand (1) CONTOURS down the right side of your opponent’s body, (2) slides along his right leg (which is not the lead leg), (3) grabs the back of your opponent’s right knee, and then (4) pulls toward you, so that your left hand grab concludes at your opponent’s right ankle. Be sure to have his right foot pass to the left and outside of your left thigh, and pin his left foot to your left hip with your left hand. The pull and strike must counteract each other to be effective. (Please refer to the NOTES to study the WHAT IF factors that can alter your plans.)
  4. Use of precise synchronization of BODY MOMENTUM should help you to drop your opponent onto his back. In anticipation or your opponent’s left leg popping up (Unintentional Move), execute a right outward back knuckle strike to the inside of your opponent’s left knee. Immediately (1) have your right hand continue in a “figure 8 pattern”, (2) drop into a right wide kneel stance, and (3) while taking advantage of marriage of gravity execute a right inward downward handsword to your opponent’s groin. (Be conscious of the possibility of your opponent’s legs drawing together.)
  5. Right front crossover, and cover out toward 7:30.



Speak Your Mind