Chun Snatch: The King of the Technical Variation

Garage Strength

Who knows what a Chun Snatch Is?!

Within my exercise classification categories, I put a very heavy emphasis on lifts known as technical variations. Technical variations are movements that are a tad bit slower in nature, the load cannot be overly intense and the execution must teeter on the realm of perfection. The goal of the movement must be entirely understood and the lifter must understand the transfer to the full lift!

I was first taught an understanding of technical variations by Norik Vardanian. Norik and I spent a bit of time together and discussing training from 2014 to the end of 2016. During this time, he taught me a ton about movement, patience, and training in general. Norik LOVED/LOVES the muscle snatch. When I say muscle snatch, it MUST be understood that a classic muscle snatch must be executed without any contact and ideally without a hook grip. 

The muscle snatch shows us how well an athlete can move their knees back, it shows us patience on a flat foot and it shows us the strength needed within the upper body. It is also a great movement to use when attempting to identify the overall reactiveness of an athlete within a training session.

However, over the last 2 years I have been playing around with a movement I discovered on the depths of the internet. After the 2017 World Championships, I was reviewing virtually every piece of footage that Hookgrip, Sick Angles and All Things Gym released that included Kuo Hsing-Chun. She had been an athlete that dating back to 2014 had started to catch my technical eye. As she has developed, more and more videos have shown her in training, shown her technique and most importantly, her warm ups.

I started to see her doing a technical variation in warm ups that I had never seen before. Over the next 6 months, I analyzed this unique technical variation, I studied it close to 1,000 times over and then implemented it into my athletes training. The four things this movement taught the lifter was HUGE:

⇨ How to move the knees back to get the shins vertical.

 ⇨ How to RECIPROCATE the knees forward as the bar passes through No Man’s Land

 ⇨ How to be patient on a flat foot

 ⇨ How to make contact, hold plantar flexion AND use the upper body in a vertical pattern

No Man’s Land is the point from just under the knee cap to 4-6 inches above the knee, where most lifts are lost.

At a quick glance, this movement seems like the secret to conquering all things technique. Well, maybe it is...The exercise is incredible for teaching the lifter proper movement mechanics. As they liftoff the hamstrings are the prime mover and lengthened, as the bar moves through No Man’s Land, the quads ALSO get lengthened while the ankles must hold dorsiflexion. Finally, the upper body MUST coordinate with the hips, then the knees and finally the ankles to hold a nearly perfectly balanced lift.

The major benefits behind this movement are incredible.

1. It is slower to execute and easier to make technical adaptations at the slower speed.

2. It teaches the lifter how to properly utilize knee movement while holding a dorsiflexed ankle joint.

3. It teaches patience on the flat foot while the hips extend first.

4. It teaches proper knee extension and proper trunk positioning on the finish, all while coordinated with the upper body!

One of the major struggles I had initially with what we refer to as the “Chun Snatch” is the fact that contact is being made. For years, I felt that any movement that is a “muscle” type movement should not include contact. From this perspective, we STILL execute muscle snatches without contact. However, while utilizing the Chun Snatch, we make contact. Both movements are excellent and can be used to train different qualities of technique and strength. 

From a coaching perspective, Chun Snatches show us where our athlete is from a technical perspective. They show us the technical understanding and the blatant technical errors arise immediately. As these errors show their ugly face, we are able to cue the lifter on a slower movement which in turn makes it easier to feel and understand through improved proprioception. Overtime, this movement carries over VERY well to the full lifts but only if the technical goals remain the same. Below is a technical comparison that shows an immediate issue between the master (Kuo) and our resident beast (Anna) struggling with the Chun Snatch.

Use this lift to relearn the proper mechanics behind the snatch. Start to comprehend and understand how to use the legs AND back effectively during a lift. Don’t forget the ankle joint, ensure dorsiflexion is optimal and maintain solid posture and feeling throughout the various positions. This lift takes time, patience and technical understanding to master but when it is executed 1,000-2,000 times correctly, the technical gains are impressive!

For more information on weightlifting technique, check out our two courses at Weightlifting University! If you are interested in more technical viewpoints and want to have a greater understanding of the sport, comment below with any questions and we will get right back to you. Feel free to share this article on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter...hell, even SnapChat and a video on TikTok will get us more exposure.

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