Three Rules for Self Defense: Rule Five

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” 2 Timothy 2:4-5

We are currently sharing with you several “Rules of Three” that are part of training in Grace Martial Arts.

You can look at previous Rules here:

3 Lows

The martial arts concept of keeping something “low” is to keep it relaxed and under your control. Calmness (see Rule 4) is important in all of the “Lows.”


Shoulders low is the idea of relaxing the upper body to increase speed and power in movement. Raising the shoulders comes from tension, which can impede the effectiveness of a martial technique.

“Don’t make yourself tense, especially when you are in danger.” The Chinese Five Word Song, p 55


The elbow is a major joint of the body and should be moved appropriately for martial arts and self defense. Raising the shoulders and elbows inappropriately causes unnecessary tension in the body and slowness of movement.

Elbows, like the shoulders, should be kept low. Keeping the elbows low also means keeping them close to the body rather than moved away from the body. Elbows that are low are in the correct position to defend and counter.

“Now for application, if you meet the enemy he hits you to the side or holds your neck, your hand goes up, then to your eyebrow you turn and bring him into your body When the two hands come down, raise up your head and raise up your knee and your knee goes to this bottom part. Very helpful. Beginners should always remember that the hands raise up lightly, but not the shoulders. Shoulders and elbows are low.” The Chinese Five Word Song, p 67

We move our fingers and hands first in most applications, followed appropriately by our elbows for defending (blocking) and attacking (striking). If our movement follows this pattern, the need to raise our shoulders will rarely be needed.


Keeping our energy low speaks to our breathing. We breathe deeply to the lower part of our lungs and control our breathing so we have the enough breath to sustain us during defense, counter-attack and escape.

“A cat appears to be very quiet while waiting for the chance to pounce upon its pretty, when actually there is concentrated internal movement. You would never realize this from the cat’s slow and even breathing. Like the cat, during this period of waiting for the chance to attack, our breathing should be natural. Naturalness is the highest aim of our exercise. If you find there is tension in any part of your body, even in the breath, you are not in a ‘natural state.’ Instead, you are inhibited and unwillful. All should be natural. Breathing ‘naturally’ aids our Will to act by exercising our internal muscles.” The Chinese Five Word Song, p 35


Correct posture is an important part of what we want to have when defending against an attack.

“Don’t lean. Be straight. The spine is straight. Some students lean back and that’s bad. Some lean forward or to the side. Give the work to the legs. When you are straight, there is greater blood circulation to the brain.

  • Raise up your head.
  • Relax the shoulders.
  • Lower the elbows.
  • Relax the chest.
  • Weight is lowered.
  • Eyes straight ahead, forward.

These are important.” The Chinese Five Word Song, pp 27-28

Next Time

We will look at another set of Rules of Three for Grace Martial Arts when our special series continues.

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© Grace Martial Arts 2018



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