Circling Wing (Purple #12)

Technique: Circling Wing
Attack: Rear Two Hand Choke
Attack Direction: 6:00
Web of Knowledge: Locks & Chokes
Family Group: Chokes & Locks
Official (24 Tech) Location: Purple #12
32 Tech Location: Orange #31
16 Tech Location: Blue #6
Form Locations: Short 3
Related Tracy Technique: Crash of the Eagle

Circling Wing is the 12th required technique to obtain your purple belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. Circling Wing is a defense against a two hand choke from behind, placing it in the Locks and Chokes category of the Web of Knowledge as well as the Chokes Family Group in Chokes & Locks category of the Grappling  division.

In Circling Wing you check your opponent and take advantage of the fulcrum created with his grabbing your neck to force an easy release of your neck.    With the importance of protecting your throat and time of essence, making use of the “with” principle will help economize time as you counter strike at various heights and depths while controlling your opponent’s zones of protection.


Circling Wing – defense for a rear two-hand choke.

  • Step 1
    • Turn and tuck your chin down and to the right side of your chest,
    • Step toward 1:30 with your left foot to form a left forward bow stance,
    • Cock your fists at your left hip in a cup & saucer fashion ( left palm up, right palm in).
  • Step 2
    • Pivot clockwise toward 7:30 into a right neutral bow stance,
    • Deliver a right outward overhead elbow strike onto your opponent’s right arm,
    • Continue pivoting into a right forward bow stance facing 7:30,
    • Deliver a left four finger thrust to your opponent’s eyes.
  • Step 3
    • Pivot counterclockwise into a right neutral bow stance.
    • Deliver a right upward elbow strike to your opponent’s chin.
    • Slide your left hand down your opponent’s right shoulder and arm checking at his elbow
  • Step 4
    • Pivot counterclockwise toward 1:30 into a right reverse bow stance.
    • Deliver a right back hammerfist strike to your opponent’s groin.
    • Left hand covers high.
  • Step 5
    • Right front crossover and cover out toward 1:30.

Additional Information


The term wing in American Kenpo refers to the elbow.  In this technique you will circle your elbow (wing) over top of your opponent’s arms in order to escape, thus the name Circling Wing.


In the ideal phase your opponent is directly behind you (6:00), and your opponent grabs your neck with both hands while keeping his elbows bent.

In a choke like this most of the pressure will be applied with your attacker’s thumbs. This pressure is adequate to prevent blood, the carrier of oxygen, from getting to and from your brain.  As with any attack that impairs your breathing and/or blood  flow in the neck it is important to ensure that your airway is clear and that you negate the attack immediately. The inability to breathe and prolonged restriction of blood flow will quickly cause unconsciousness and ultimately death.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Left Front Step Through
  • Left Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Neutral Bow Stance
  • Right Outward Overhead Elbow Strike
  • Right Forward Bow Stance
  • Left Four Finger Thrust
  • Right Upward Elbow Strike
  • Right Reverse Bow Stance
  • Right Back Hammerfist Strike
  • Right Front Crossover
  • Cover Out


  • Right Wrist
  • Right Elbow/Arm
  • Eyes/Face
  • Chin/Jaw
  • Groin

Concepts & Principles

  • Anchor
  • Angle of Cancellation
  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Angle of Manipulation
  • Borrowed Force
  • Changing of the Guard
  • Closing the Gap
  • Continuity of Motion
  • Contouring
  • Frictional Pull
  • Hugging Pin
  • Marriage of Gravity
  • Pivoting
  • Pressing Check
  • Purposeful Defiance
  • Reverse Motion
  • Sliding Check
  • Torque
  • Transitional Moves
  • With


  • What if …
    • your opponent’s arms are straight and locked out?
    • your opponent is pushing you forward?
    • your opponent is pulling you back?
    • your opponent’s right leg is forward?
    • your opponent’s left left is forward?
    • you are unable to step forward?
    • you are being choked from behind while seated?
    • you are being choked from behind while on the ground?

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal, Circling Wing was purple belt technique #7
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal has you pivot clockwise toward 7:00 ending in a right neutral bow stance facing 8:00.
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal has you pivot counter clockwise into a horse stance when delivering the upward elbow strike and does not mention the sliding check but rather has you cover your ribs with the left hand.
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal has you pivot toward 1:00 in the final move but does not indicate an angle of departure.

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

CIRCLING WING (rear two-hand choke — arms bent)

  1. With feet together, have your left foot step forward and to your right on a 45°angle (between 1 and 2 o’clock) into a left neural bow as your right arm cocks horizontally across your waist.
  2. Pivot clockwise (turning toward 7 o’clock) as you circle your right elbow over and down (right outward overhead elbow) on to the right arm of your opponent to hurt and pin that arm. Complete the pivot into a right forward bow (facing 8 o’clock) while delivering a left four finger thrust to opponent’s eyes.
  3. Pivot in place to your left into a horse as you deliver a right upward elbow strike to opponent’s chin. Your left hand should be guarding close to your right ribs.
  4. Pivot again to your left (toward l o’clock) into a right reverse bow as you strike with a right back downward hammerfist to opponent’s groin with your left hand guarding.


  • Make sure that you protect your throat on the first move.
  • Be sure to circle your right arm high over your opponent’s arms and pivot rapidly to ensure that you break your opponent’s grip.
  • Take notice that with your attacker’s elbow’s bent you are unable to step backwards for one of two reasons; he is either pushing you forward preventing you from stepping back or is too close for you to properly execute the technique with a step back.
  • Ensure a continuous flow on all of your strikes
  • Try and note the use of Reverse motion, especially in the extended version.


  • A common variation, that works depending on your attacker’s grip type,  is to pin your opponent’s right hand to your right shoulder as you step forward with the left foot. The steps would look like this;
    • Step 1
      • Pin your opponent’s right hand to your right shoulder with your left hand,
      • Step toward 1:30 with your left foot to form a left forward bow stance,
      • Cock your right arm horizontally across your arm.

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