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Skills for Close Range Combat
Chi Sau, or ‘Sticking Hands’, is a Wing Chun training exercise designed to develop close range combat skills. In close range combat, your ability to see an incoming strike a punch and react by reflex is greatly diminished, which is where the skills developed through Chi Sau apply.
The aim of Chi Sau is to learn through touch any shift in an opponent’s body position which indicates an eminent attack. Training the arms to have ‘a mind of their own’ allows a Wing Chun practitioner to instinctively break an opponent’s structure and remove their ability to apply force.
A thorough understanding of the Siu Nim Tau form is essential before a student can undertake training in Chi Sau as movements between the two forms are closely related.
Benefits of Chi Sau
Correct training in Chi Sau offers many benefits including:
- Improved hand speed;
- Shorter reaction time;
- Heightened sensitivity, allowing one to find a hole in an opponent’s defence instantly;
- More power;
- Better balance;
- The ability to control an opponent at all times; and
- The ability to apply the strongest structure against the weakest structure of the opponent.
How it is Practised
In practicing Chi Sau, the Wing Chun exponent learns to intercept an opponent’s arms, trap his hands and strike through simultaneously. The exercise is performed with constant forward force and the arms ‘soft’ and relaxed enough to ‘stick’ to those of the opponent.
The arms are moved in a continuous, circular motion involving movements known as Tan Sau, Dai Sau, Fook Sau and Bong Sau. Using the concept of a circle, the Wing Chun exponent's arms are constantly repositioned or 'rolled' while searching for or creating an opening in the opponent’s defence so that the Wing Chun exponent may strike through.
Chi Sau Exercises and Drills
These exercises build on the structural aspects of the Siu Nim Tau form, further developing relaxation and looseness in the joints. Students progress through Single Chi Sau, where the basics are taught using one arm, to Double Chi Sau, where both arms are used simultaneously, to refining and building the skills of both in Lap Sau.
Once competency is attained in the static Chi Sau arm movements, stepping and pivoting is introduced, training the practitioner to utilise body mass, deflect an opponent’s force and adjust positioning. Once he is able to move freely and maintain all other Chi Sau movements, other skills including trapping, engaging and disengaging with an opponent and arm movements from the three Wing Chun empty hand forms and Mook Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy form) may be introduced.
Blindfold fighting is a true test of Chi Sau skills, testing the ability of the practitioner’s arms to operate independently of sight and to control and manipulate a partner by touch and reflex. It takes many years of training under a qualified master before these movements become natural reactions.