General Principles of San Shou Kuai Jiao - Part 4, Opportunity, Speed, and Ingenuity

By Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang and Tai D. Ngo


Paul vs Derek - Throw
Paul vs Derek - Throw

In a fight, you must be able to seize the opportunity when it comes. Opportunity can be found or created. It is based upon your opponent's body gestures, techniques, or mistakes made during the fight. When there is an opportunity, the proper San Shou Kuai Mao technique must be applied correctly in order to throw your opponent.

Opportunity comes and goes rather quickly. If there is an opportunity and you are not able to catch it, or you hesitate to make a decision, it will vanish in the blink of an eye. Once the opportunity has passed and you still try to apply a technique, you may be giving your opponent a chance to reverse the situation. For example, when your opponent attacks you with a right punch to your face, you may quickly dodge to the right and use your left hand to grab his right wrist to control him, and then apply an appropriate San Shou Kuai Jiao technique to throw him down. But if your timing is wrong and reaction is slow, his arm has already been pulled back before you can grab it. You have missed the chance. If you continue to execute the grab, your opponent can take the opportunity to attack you.

Opportunity can be created. An experienced fighter is able to use strategies and tricks to open his opponent to attack. Of course, it is not easy to catch every possible opportunity during a fight. Your skills and knowledge will grow along with your experience, but not without hard work. Therefore, the more you are able to practice with different partners, the better you will increase this experience, and train yourself to recognize and take advantage of opportunities.


Ingenuity is the skill in San Shou Kuai Jiao training that teaches you how to apply your techniques cleverly. In fact, ingenuity must be combined with others skills such as reaction, speed, endurance, and durability of the body as a whole. It is the most advanced product of all martial arts skills combined. In a complex situation such as a fight, you can not just rely on one or two particular skills to defeat your opponent. Instead, you must use techniques, footwork, the ability to move your body well, the ability to use strategies, and the ability to improvise and take advantage of situations.

Ingenuity is the ability to take advantage of situations. Each individual person will apply this skill differently. If you are physically stronger than your opponent, take that as your advantage. But if you are not as strong as your opponent, you can not blindly match muscle power against muscle power. You must observe your opponent's movement carefully and then apply appropriate techniques cleverly. In order to improve this type of skill, reaction ability and the use of strategy must be emphasized. Ingenuity will improve through training, analysis, and experience.


Speed is one of the most important elements in martial arts training. Without proper speed, all the martial arts techniques in the world will not help you. There are different types of speed emphasized in martial arts training. Common speed training emphasizes the quickness of the eyes, hands, body, legs, footwork, and mind.

The most important among them is the speed of mind. The mind is the control center of the body. Although the speed of the entire physical body is important, the mind has the most important role in deciding which reactions to perform and what strategy to apply to the situation. If your mind is uncertain and slow to respond, then your decisions will not be firm and your reactions will be slow. This means that your hands and feet will also be slow, since their movements are controlled by the mind. Mind also plays the main role in directing the eyes to observe and react to your opponent's movements. When the state of your mind is firm and your spirit is high, every part of your body will able to respond to your opponent's strategy. On the other hand, when you lack focus and your spirit is low, your reaction will be slow.

As we mentioned above, the mind controls the speed of the physical body, and the reaction time of the mind plays an important role in the art of fighting. Therefore, reaction must also be emphasized in training. Generally speaking, reaction is the ability of your body to respond to sudden changes. The ability to react fast in San Shou Kuai Jiao is very important. When fighting, you and your opponent's body gestures and techniques change very quickly. To be able to react to sudden changes during a fight, you must not only have appropriate techniques, but also good speed.

Speed is a key factor for a successful throw in San Shou Kuai Jiao. Your hands and legs must coordinate. There is a saying when applying San Shou Kuai Jiao techniques in fight; "Eyes like lighting; Hands like an arrow; Waist like a coiling snake; Legs like a drill" The above saying points out the importance of the speed of eyes, hands, body and legs which San Shou Kuai Jiao depends on to win the fight. With good speed, your techniques will be more sudden and not give your opponent time to react to your attack. If your movements are agile and lively, your opponent will not be able to discern your intention until it is too late.

The important point is that speed and reaction are a crucial part of San Shou Kuai Jiao training. If you have only good techniques but no speed and reaction, you will not able to apply the throwing techniques efficiently. Therefore, speed and reaction must be emphasized in San Shou Kuai Jiao training.