The Grasp of Death (EPAK Yellow #6)

Technique: The Grasp of Death
Attack: Right Arm Headlock
Attack Direction: 9:00
Web of Knowledge: Chokes and Locks: Locks
Family Group: Chokes & Locks
Official (24 Tech) Location: Yellow #6
32 Tech Location: Not found
16 Tech Location: Yellow #6
Form Locations: Not found in forms
Related Tracy Technique: Headlock

The Grasp of Death is the 6th technique required to obtain your Yellow Belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo.  The Grasp of Death is for a right arm headlock from the left flank placing it in the Locks & Chokes category of the Web of Knowledge and the Locks Family Group in the Family Groups Grappling division.

In Grasp of Death you will be introduced to flank attacks and this particular one is life threatening. You will learn how to pinch nerves in order to create a distraction in order to free yourself. You will realize that you do not have to be the stronger person in order to defend yourself. You will finally learn to apply an arm bar which can be used to control all three dimensional zones of your attacker.


  • Step 1:
    • Tuck your chin to the left against your chest.
    • Pull your opponent’s right wrist with you right hand, anchoring the elbow.
    • Step forward with your right foot towards 12:00 forming a right close kneel stance.
    • With your left hand reach between your opponent’s legs to grab the right inner thigh and pinch the fleshy area.
  • Step 2:
    • Bring your opponent’s right arm over your head and in front of your body pulling his right wrist to your right hip.
  • Step 3:
    • Step toward 10:30 with your left foot to form a left neutral bow stance.
    • Strike the back of your opponent’s right elbow with a left hammering inward block pushing forward and down creating a right arm bar.
    • Slap your left hand over your opponent’s right elbow for better control.
  • Step 4:
    • Hugging your opponent’s right arm against your body with your left hand.
    • Deliver a right snapping inverted vertical punch to the base of your opponent’s skull
  • Step 4:
    • Cover toward 1:30.

Additional Information


The name of the technique, The Grasp of Death, is derived from the severe nature of the attack as the attacker’s grasp can prove fatal if not properly and quickly defended against.

The original name for this technique was The Pincher. This was changed along with the swapping of 3 yellow belt techniques in the second version of the 24 technique manual.


Ideal phase of attack has the opponent  on your left flank (9:00) with their right arm wrapped around the back of your neck firmly securing your head in a vice like grip while pulling you down.

A headlock is a type of attack used by someone who is typically confident that they are stronger than you.  The grasp can break your neck, cut off blood flow to the brain, or close off the throat keeping you from breathing.  This type of attack can end in unconsciousness, injury, brain damage and even death.

Basics & Maneuvers Used

  • Front Step Through
  • Close Kneel Stance
  • Neutral Bow Stance
  • Arm Bar Lock
  • Transitional Forward Bow Stance
  • Downward Snapping Inverted Vertical Punch


  • Right Inner Thigh/Femoral Nerve
  • Right Elbow
  • Right Mastoid/Base of the Skull

Concepts & Principles Taught

  • Contouring
  • Distraction
  • Fitting
  • Fulcrum
  • Joint Lock
  • Leveraging
  • Rolling Check


  • What if …
    • your attacker is punching you with his left hand?
    • your attacker pins your right arm with his right arm as he applies the headlock?
    • your attacker is running you forward into an object?
    • your attacker tries to pick you up while in the headlock?
    • You are on your hands and knees when attacked and you are being pulled up?
    • a second opponent approaches from the front?

Related Techniques

Historical Notes

  • In the first manual for the 24 technique system, The Grasp of Death was called The Pincher.
  • The 1987 IKKA Studio Manuals did not indicate that the right snapping vertical punch should be inverted but it did in the 1975 Accumulative Journal.
  • Neither the 1975 Accumulative Journal nor the 1987 IKKA Studio Manuals indicate an Angle of Departure.

Historical Versions

1975 Accumulative Journal

THE GRASP OF DEATH  (left flank right arm headlock)

  1. With you bent over forward at the waist and opponent standing upright and applying a right arm headlock, simultaneously grab his right wrist with your right hand as you step forward right toward 12 O’clock into a right close kneel stance, immediately reach up in between his legs (as high as you can get) and grab the flesh with all four fingers to pinch (horse bite) his leg. (be sure you are checking the outside of his right leg with your left knee)
  2. As opponent releases his grip, bring his right arm over your head and down past your right vertical forearm (which acts as a check) while you stand up tall into a right neautral bow stance.
  3. Immediately step through left into a left neutral bow stance as you use your left arm to push his right elbow forward and down (arm-bar) to cause him to step forward with his left foot, (this also forces him to bend over at the waist) as you place his right arm across your thighs. Move your left arm into a left hand grab at his elbow (for better control).
  4. Execute a right downward inverted vertical punch to the base of the opponent’s seull or neck near his right mastoid bone.
  5. No cover out is required.

Unfinished Yellow Belt Manual by Ed Parker

GRASP OF DEATH (left flank – right arm headlock)

  1. With your head forced to bend forward, and your opponent to your left flank (applying a headlock with his right arm), initiate your action by simultaneously, (1) tucking your chin to the left and against your chest, (2) grabbing your opponent’s right wrist with your right hand, (3) stepping forward toward 12 o’clock into a right close kneel stance and (4) grabbing your opponent’s right inner thigh with your left hand, and pinching the flesh of that leg with as much strength as possible. Your opponent will experience a horse-bite effect if it is done correctly. Be sure to continue checking the outside of your opponent’s right leg with your left knee during the course of your action. (Your opponent’s right knee may bend and double up, or his leg may pop forward and up off the ground. In addition, your efforts should cause your opponent to loosen his grip.)
  2. As your opponent reacts to your pinch, and partially or totally releases his grip, have your right hand bring his right arm over your head and down to your chest, making sure that your right elbow is anchored to aid you in controlling your opponent’s height and width.
  3. Immediately release the grip of your left hand, and simultaneously (1) have your left foot step forward (in front of your opponent’s right leg) toward 10:30 into a left neutral bow stance, (2) strike the back of your opponent’s right elbow with your left forearm while (3) pulling in and toward you with your right hand. (This action should cause your opponent to step forward with his left foot prior to bending over at the waist.)
  4. ROLL your left forearm on the back of your opponent’s right elbow until your left forearm is parallel to the ground. Now slide your left hand to your opponent’s right elbow. While controlling your opponent’s right elbow with your left hand, pivot into a left forward bow facing 10:30. Immediately execute a right snapping vertical punch to the base of your opponent’s skull behind his right mastoid bone. (This action should cause your opponent’s head to move away, and possibly result in his body falling to the ground.)



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