Chi Sau translated literally means sticking hands. Sticking hands is a unique form of training used in Wing Chun Kuen. It is an excellent way for practitioners to sharpen their skills and techniques at short range, improving reactions, sensitivity, speed and strength. It is also an excellent way for students to train against each other putting Wing Chun concepts into practice.
Beginner students engage in single sticking hands in which only one side of the body and consequently one arm is used, while more advanced students engage in double sticking hands utilising both arms and feet.
When performing Sticking hands, the practitioners maintain constant contact with each other, testing each other and constantly seeking to exploit any weak points within their framework. Strength In Wing Chun and sticking hands comes from training the framework which comprises of the Bridge Hand and the Horse Stance.
Briefly described the Bridge hand, like a bridge stretching across a river should be strong and flexible. The whole arm and it’s joints in use is called the bridge hand. In order to use the bridge hand fast, powerfully and effectively, the practitioner requires to have balance.
A good balance comes from having strong hips, backbone, knees, ankles and toes. This is called the Horse stance and is essential in supporting hand techniques and hand movements, which together form the framework.
Chi Sau can be practiced in 2 different ways:
a) Technique against technique – this is more of a set drill than anything else. You face your opponent and deliver pre-agreed techniques. Your opponent allows you to follow each move to completion until a state of familiarity is achieved. Then knowing what the initial attack will be, he will counter and then counter-attack. This method of chi sau training is excellent for developing your frame work, conditioning your joints for strength and teaching correct posture, balance and distancing.
b) Free Style Chi Sau – as the name suggests there are no predefined techniques but the aim of each opponent is to control and dominate the other using techniques. This does not necessary need to result in a free style fight but instead each opponent tries to work out under pressure what his weak points are so he can improve them and as well as send the correct strike signal to your opponent when ever you exploit his weak points.
Kung fu is not something that only relates to Chinese martial arts. Because it’s never the style that demonstrates kung fu. It’s never the technique that demonstrates kung fu. It’s the martial artist. In China, kung fu never refers just to martial arts. It really isn’t a mystical thing. This may sound ridiculous but look at the ‘Generation game’ on TV. Experts come on and demonstrate their various skills – be they cooks or carpenters or whatever. They show the contestants exactly what to do, but the contestants just can’t do it – despite having just as big a brain and just as many hands, fingers and tools as the Masters. Ironically, there seems to be more evidence of ‘kung fu’ in the generation game than in most martial arts movies.
Within Chi Sau, there are three basic concepts:
a) On Incoming power or energy, no matter the direction, you absorb it. You cannot absorb until you can yield. In order to absorb or yield you have to be strong. If you absorb when you are strong, you are able to yield. If you absorb when you are weak, your bridge hand will collapse. Yielding uses the whole body to absorb or to change from one hand technique to another seamlessly without collapsing the bridge hand and using the correct angles. You must have strength in your frame work to be able to yield. Your bridge hand and horse stance are vital in yielding.
b) Within the same distance and space, when you move forward, you should project your energy towards your opponent using your framework. You use this concept to dominate your opponent’s distance and balance to make his bridge hand collapse in order to open up his framework. You require strength in order to achieve this or else your energy will be rigid and agitated.
c) When your opponents bridge hand collapses and there is no block hand or barrier in the way, this is the time to strike straight forward to the body of your opponent using your energy and power. In order words “hand free straight hit”
Improving vastly in Sticking Hands, depends a lot on adhering to these principles and adopting the right mentality. The student must know his weak points in order to improve them and he must also know his opponent’s weak points in order to exploit them.
The right mentality during Chi Sau is learned by observing some simple principles and suggestions as listed below:
1) Never take your partner lightly – This applies to whoever your partner is, whether stronger or weaker. Your framework should be maintained at all times.
2) Concentrate – This is essential during training in order to be able to react fast and also to be able to focus energy in to a point of application.
3) Seek for your opponent’s weakness – Two suggested areas are his bridge hand and horse stance.
4) Deal with the person your are facing and his energy and not his hands.
5) Stick to your opponent.
6) Breathe naturally.
Applying these suggestions and concepts consistently to your sticking hands training will produce vastly improved reactions, sensitivity, speed, timing and strength. These benefits that can be developed from Chi Sau training can also be applied to other areas of Wing Chun, the results are absolutely incredible and hard to put into words. It needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated!
Chi Sau training is an on going learning experience in which you can learn from practitioners of both higher or lower standard than yourself. It is truly a fascinating and ingenious training system. It’s true value can only really be appreciated by those who train earnestly and have a desire to learn from it.
In the second part to this article, which will be featured in next edition, we will be delving deeper into the most advanced sticking hands theory ever produced in this country. This promises to be an article one should treasure.
Let the Millennium be for remembering what has been forgotten about connection and unity among all things, living and not living.
Let 2000 be the year for embracing what is most feared.
Let 2000 be the year for opening what has been closed, softening what has been hardened into obstruction.
Let the Millennium be for entering into the transcendent, timeless moment when one experiences the divine.
Let 2000 be the year of creativity, passion and love.
Let the Millennium be about learning to trust life.
Master Simon Lau. Year 2000