Striking Serpent’s Head (EPAK Orange #16)

Technique: Striking Serpent's Head
Attack: Front Bear Hug, Arms Free
Attack Direction: 12:00
Web of Knowledge: Hugs & Holds
Family Group: Holds and Hugs: Bear Hugs
Official (24 Tech) Location: Orange #16
32 Tech Location: Orange #14
16 Tech Location: Orange #15
Form Locations: Short 3
Related Tracy Technique: Front Bear Hug

Striking Serpent’s Head is the 16th technique required to obtain your Orange Belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. It is the defense for  a front bear hug with arms free placing it in the Hugs & Holds category in the Web of Knowledge and in the Bear Hugs family group in the Hugs and Holds category in the family groups grappling division.

In Striking Serpent’s Head we initiate our defense with a less on reverse motion with a reverse hammerfist, reverse body momentum and reverse back up mass. In addition to all the reverses, despite being in front of our opponent, almost all of our defense comes from your opponent’s rear. These movements are in an obscure zone teaching you that you can strike in areas your opponent cannot see while being right in front of their face.  The ending of these technique focuses on anchoring, control, and contouring.


Striking Serpent’s Head – defense for a front bear hug, arms free.

  • Step 1
    • Step back toward 6:00 with your right foot to form a left neutral bow stance facing 12:00,
    • Deliver a left inward reverse hammerfist strike to the base of your opponent’s skull,
    • Right hand cocks in a palm up half fist position near your chest.
  • Step 2
    • Grab the opponent’s hair with your left hand and pull his head back and down,
    • Pivot counter clockwise into a left forward bow stance buckling your opponent’s right knee,
    • Deliver a right snapping half fist strike (palm down) to your opponent’s throat.
    • Pivot clockwise into a left neutral bow stance, facing 12:00
  • Step 3
    • Left front crossover and cover out toward 4:30.

Additional Information


The final move of the base technique, the half-fist strike to the throat, resembles the head of a serpent making a strike thus the name Striking Serpent’s Head.  It is believed that this type of strike (half-fist) was traditionally called a serpent’s head strike along with being called a leopard’s fist/claw/paw.


The ideal phase places your opponent directly in front of you (12:00) who applies a bear hug around your torso with your arms free.

When you are grabbed in a bear hug and your arms are still free, you are left with significant advantages and a wide array of options thus in a technique like this you have plenty of leverage still.  As discussed earlier in yellow belt a bear hug is commonly used in the streets to give the attacker an advantage.  This advantage enables the attacker to pick you up and throw you, hold you down for others to attack you, squeeze you causing pain, discomfort and injury or simply to intimidate you.

Expanding on this, the person most likely to attempt putting you into a bear hug is someone who believes they are stronger than you and most likely they are physically larger than you as well.  It is important to practice often to develop a quick response to attacks in order to minimize the chances of your attacker ever completing the hold.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Right Reverse Step Through
  • Left Neutral Bow Stance
  • Left Inward Inverted Hammerfist Strike
  • Left Hair Grab
  • Left Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Snapping Half Fist Strike
  • Left Front Crossover
  • Cover out


  • Base of the Skull (Mastoid Bone)
  • Hair
  • Throat (Trachea)

Concepts & Principles

  • Anchoring
  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Contouring
  • Fulcruming
  • Leveraging
  • Point of Origin
  • Preparatory Cock
  • Stabilize your Base


  • What if …
    • your opponent is driving you back?
    • your opponent continues to push forward after you strike him with the reverse hammerfist?
    • your opponent is pulling you forward?
    • your opponent lifts you off of the ground?
    • you miss the reverse hammerfist?
    • your opponent tries to hit you with his right hand after the reverse hammerfist?
    • your opponent tries to hit you with his left hand after your reverse hammerfist?
    • your opponent is taller than you?
    • your opponent is shorter than you?
    • your opponent applies unbearable pressure?
    • you cannot step backwards?

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal this was Orange Belt Technique #14

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

STRIKING SERPENTS HEAD (front bear hug — arms free)

  1. Drop back with your right foot (to 6 o’clock) into a left neutral bow. Simultaneously hook your left hand around and back of opponent’s head so that your left knuckle or left inner wrist bone strikes to opponent’s left temple or mastoid while your right hand cocks into a half fist at chest level.
  2. Immediately have your left hand grab and pull opponent’s hair back (above the forehead)as you shift into a left forward bow (toward 12 o’clock) and execute a thrusting half fist to opponent’s throat, immediately returning to your left neutral bow after the half fist strike.



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