Sleeper (Purple #21)

Technique: Sleeper
Attack: Right Step Through Punch
Attack Direction: 12:00
Web of Knowledge: Punches
Family Group: Punches
Official (24 Tech) Location: Purple #21
32 Tech Location: Purple #3
16 Tech Location: Blue #14
Form Locations: Form 5
Related Tracy Technique: Sleeper

Sleeper is the 21st technique required to obtain your purple belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. Sleeper is a defense against right step through punch from the front, placing it in the Punches category of the Web of Knowledge as well as the Punches Family Group in the Striking division.

Like Dance of Death and Thundering Hammers this technique is designed to teach you the value of initiating your moves from point of origin. Each of these family related techniques targets a different height zone. In this technique you will be introduced to pressure holds, particularly a type of sleeper hold, in order to subdue your opponent and then in the final part of this technique you learn the spiraling staircase concept of taking an opponent to the ground.

The Technique


In the ideal phase your opponent is directly in front of you (12:00) in a left fighting stance. As your opponent steps forward with his right foot, he delivers a right straight punch toward your face. It is assumed that you are unable to step backward.


Sleeper –  defense for a right straight punch.

  • Step1
    • Step forward with your left foot on a 45° angle toward 11:00 into a left neutral bow stance facing 12:00,
    • Deliver a left inward block to the outside of your opponent’s right arm,
    • Allow your right arm to hang naturally by your side.
  • Step 2
    • Pivot counterclockwise to form a left forward bow stance.
    • Deliver a right inward upward diagonal wrist strike to the left side of your opponent’s neck.
    • Your left hand is checking your opponent’s right arm.
  • Step 3
    • Slide your right foot behind your opponent’s right leg into a modified horse stance,
    • Your left hand grabs your right wrist from behind your opponent’s neck,
    • Press in and downward against your opponent’s neck.
    • Pivot toward 10:30 into a left forward bow stance,
  • Step 4
    • Slide your left foot back toward 4:30 forcing your opponent to the ground,
    • Deliver a right knee drop into your opponent’s right ribcage, putting yourself in a left close kneels stance,
    • Deliver a right vertical punch to your opponent’s face,
    • your left hand is pushing your opponent’s arm across his body to keep it in check.
  • Step 5
    • Shift your right foot toward 12:00
    • Execute a left front crossover as you rise up
    • cover out toward 10:30


  • What if…
    • your opponent throws a right hooking punch instead?
    • your opponent punches low?
    • your opponent pushes your right shoulder instead?
    • your opponent does not step through (left leg still forward)?
    • your opponent precedes his punch with a right kick?
    • your opponent is taller or shorter than you?
    • you deflect your opponent’s punch across his body preventing you from getting underneath your opponent’s arm?


  • Practice this technique mechanically to ensure that you are executing the movements properly. You should not have to muscle your opponent to the ground.
  • Be sure that you tightly hug your opponent to prevent him from gaining the leverage necessary to counter attack.
  • Be sure that your opponent has lost his balance before sliding your left foot backward prior to throwing him as you will lose your balance instead.
  • Keep your head close to your opponent’s in order to increase the pressure of the choke.
  • If you get your right shoulder into your opponent’s right armpit, then by simply raising up slightly you will cut off blood flow on both sides.

Additional Information


The name of this technique comes from the application of pressure to your opponent’s carotid artery which cuts off the flow of blood to the brain causing your opponent to pass out or essentially puts them to sleep.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Left Front Step Through
  • Left Neutral Bow Stance
  • Left Inward Block
  • Left Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Inward Upward Diagonal Inner Wrist Strike
  • Modified Horse Stance
  • Left Close Kneel Stance
  • Right Knee Drop
  • Right Vertical Punch
  • Left Front Crossover
  • Cover Out


  • Outside of the Right Arm
  • Left Side of the Neck
  • Back of the Right Knee
  • Right Rib Cage
  • Face

Concepts & Principles

  • Anchor
  • Angle of Cancellation
  • Angle of Deviation
  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Bracing Angle
  • Buckle
  • Cat Around
  • Contouring
  • Counter Balance
  • Direct Rotation
  • Hugging Checks
  • Leverage
  • Marriage of Gravity
  • Pivot
  • Rotational Force
  • Sandwiching
  • Slipping
  • Stabilize your Base
  • Zone of Obscurity

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal, Sleeper was Purple Belt Technique #22.
  • the 1975 Accumulative Journal indicated;
    • pivoting into a forward bow stance facing 10:00.
    • sliding your right foot back toward 5:00 to force your opponent to the ground.
    • sliding your left foot toward 2:00 as you rise then execute a right front crossover and cover out toward 2:00.

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

SLEEPER (front straight step through right punch)

  1. Standing naturally with feet together, step to your left on a 45° angle with your left foot (to 11 o’clock) into a left neutral bow as you strike with a left inward block to outside of opponent’s right arm (preferably at or above the elbow) and cock your right arm parallel to your right thigh (right arm is hanging naturally to the side).
  2. Pivot (in place) into a left forward bow as you deliver a right inward upward diagonal inner wrist strike to opponent’s left side of neck. Your left hand is checking opponent’s right arm (bracing angle check).
  3. Immediately step around and back of opponent’s right leg (cating around and back in the process) with your right leg (into a modified horse stance) and have your left hand grab your right wrist from back of opponent’s neck to apply pressure that would put your opponent to sleep.
  4. Pivot toward 10 o’clock into a left forward bow and immediately shift your left foot back to 5 o’clock while forcing your opponent to the ground as you follow-up with a right vertical punch to opponent’s face simultaneously with a right knee drop (left close kneel) to opponent’s right ribs. Your left hand is pushing down on your opponent’s right arm. At this point the head of your opponent should be facing between 5 and 6 o’clock.
  5. Raise up to a left neutral bow and slide your left foot to 2 o’clock (left reverse step through); right front crossover and cover out again toward 2 o’clock.

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