The Way of the Nail

The Way of the Nail is a forgotten artform.

It’s especially useful for ladies, but not only for them, since God gave men fingernails too.

There are two main strike-oriented styles in fingernail based combat: Snake style and Tiger style. Snake style employs darting fingers from maximum range, as in JKD. Tiger style is more structural, like Wing Chun – it focuses on Chi Sau range.

There is also Eagle Claw style, but this is more of a grappling style – it’s concerned mostly with wrist grabs, throat grabs, elbow grabs, eye gouges, nut grabs, etc. Eagle Claw is best done with only slightly protruding fingernails – this is not something I teach – I’m focusing on styles compatible with indefinitely long fingernails here. Styles where you won’t get yourself tangled up either.

The Role of the Fist, in the Way of the Nail

With long fingernails, the fist is different – you can not fully clench your fist without stabbing yourself in the palm. So you do a Tai Chi Single Whip hand structure instead – you can still punch this way. It should be more of a cleanly measured precision shot. Ensure you have a straight wrist during point of impact. The fist may twist one way or the other, to help drive the ‘glancing chipping’ or ‘sinking digging’ energy like the Drilling Fist from Xing Yi. These punches have their place in the way of the nail – but punching has less range than finger-striking, and fingernails give you even more range.

Nailed vs nail-less fingers

Fingernails increase your range, not only because they extend the length of your reach, but because their hardness & sharpness combined with the sensitivity of the primary target (eyes) means you barely need to reach your target and flick your fingers to achieve the desired effect. Nail-less finger strikes require more pressure and motion, not only closer range.

It’s also easier for an empathetic warrior to be dispassionate when flicking fingernails because you don’t ‘feel’ the target in so much gory detail when you make contact via nails.

If you wish to learn the Way of the Nail, you’ve come to the right place. I teach private lessons from my home in Swanage, Dorset. Fill in the form below to get the ball rolling.