Twirling Wings (EPAK Purple #1)

Technique: Twirling Wings
Attack: Rear Two-Hand Stiff-Arm Shoulder Grab
Attack Direction: 6:00
Web of Knowledge: Grabs & Tackles
Family Group: Grabs - Shoulder & Lapel Grab
Official (24 Tech) Location: Purple #1
32 Tech Location: Orange #27
16 Tech Location: Purple #1
Form Locations: Short 3
Related Tracy Technique: Opening Cowl

Twirling Wings is the 1st required technique to obtain your purple belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. Twirling Wings is a defense against a rear two-hand stiff-armed shoulder grab placing it in the Grabs & Tackles category of the Web of Knowledge as well as the Shoulder and Lapel Grabs Family Group in the Grabs category of the Family Groups Grappling division.

In Twirling Wings we are introduced into twirling checks as we continuously use rotating motions to keep our opponent in check.  From the get go we have a rotating outward block followed by the rotating inward elbow, then we rotate our right arm into a checking position as we rotate with another inward elbow.


Twirling Wings – defense for a rear double shoulder grab.

  • Step 1
    • Tuck your chin down into your chest,
    • Slide your left foot back toward 5:00 to form a left rear twist stance,
    • Chamber your hands at your right hip in the cup & saucer position (right palm up, left palm down).
  • Step 2
    • Pivot counterclockwise to form a left forward bow stance facing 6:00,
    • Deliver a left vertical outward block to the outside of your opponent’s left arm,
    • Execute a right inward horizontal elbow strike to your opponent’s left lower ribcage.
  • Step 3
    • Pivot clockwise into a left fighting horse stance facing 6:00,
    • Deliver a left inward horizontal elbow strike to your opponent’s left lower rib cage,
    • Right hand checks your opponent’s left outer elbow.
  • Step 4
    • Left front crossover,
    • Cover out toward 12:00.

Additional Information


The Kenpo term wings represents the elbows. In this technique the twirling action of your wings (elbows) gives us the name Twirling Wings.


In the ideal phase your opponent is directly behind you (6:00). Your opponent grabs you from behind on each shoulder, at the base of the neck, with his arms fully extended.

This type of attack is typically used to control you and either hold you for another attacker from the front, to push you forward, to pull you back or to pull you back into a knee to the spine.

Basics & Maneuvers

  • Left Reverse Step Through
  • Left Rear Twist Stance
  • Left Neutral Bow Stance
  • Left Vertical Outward Block
  • Left Forward Bow Stance
  • Right Inward Horizontal Elbow Strike
  • Fighting Horse Stance
  • Left Inward Horizontal Elbow Strike
  • Left Front Crossover
  • Cover Out


  • Outside Left Elbow
  • Outside Left Rib Cage
  • Inside Left Rib Cage

Concepts & Principles

  • Angle of Disturbance
  • Angle of Incidence
  • Body Momentum
  • Bracing Angle
  • Chamber
  • Compact Unit
  • Continuity of Motion
  • Contouring
  • Fitting
  • Pinning Check
  • Pivoting
  • Solidify Your Base
  • Torque
  • Zone of Obscurity


  • What if …
    • your opponent is pushing you forward?
    • your opponent is pulling you backward?
    • your opponent’s left foot is forward?
    • your opponent’s right foot is forward?
    • your opponent steps away as you deliver your right elbow?
    • your opponent grabs your hair from behind?
    • you cannot reach your opponent’s rib cage with your elbow strike?

Related Techniques

  • Crossing Talon
  • Captured Leaves
  • Circling Wing
  • Cross of Destruction
  • Entangled Wing
  • Shield and Mace
  • Crossed Twigs
  • Menacing Twirl
  • Circling Storm

Historical Notes

  • In the 1975 Accumulative Journal, Twirling Wings was Purple Belt technique #3
  • The 1975 Accumulative Journal
    • has you step back to approximately 4:30.
    • indicates your left fighting horse should be facing 9:00 (yes your body should, but your opponent is still at 6:00 and you should be looking at him).
    • indicates that your right arm should simply guard high.
    • does not indicate an angle of departure.

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

TWIRLING WINGS (rear stiff two-hand choke)

  1. Have your left foot step back and to your right on a slight 45°angle (between 4 and 5 o’clock) into a left rear twist stance.
  2. Pivot to your left (into a left forward bow) while simultaneously delivering a left outward block to outside of opponent’s left arm and a right inward horizontal elbow strike to outside portion of opponent’s left ribcage
  3. Pivot to your right (into a horse facing 9 o’clock) and deliver a left inward horizontal elbow strike to Inside portion of opponent’s left ribcage or solar plexus as your right hand guards to the left of your face, always making sure that your right hand keeps a safe distance from your head In order to cushion any blow that might be directed to your head.




  1. The opening step I was taught is to step back with the left foot to 5 but that step back has to buckle the opponents right leg (this assumes that the attacker is stepping forward with the right leg to make the grab. I’ve tried the grab a couple of times and had others try it with me and the general tendency is to step with the right leg to close in.) to make the follow up block more effective.

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