The Purpose of Chi Sau

23/02/2009

The Purpose of Chi Sau

Wing Chun's chi sau or 'sticking hands' is not really a fighting technique but rather an exercise to train the skills used in Wing Chun. It is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Correct training in chi sau will give many benefits including:

  • Improved hand speed.
  • Quicker reaction time.
  • Heightened sensitivity enabling one to find a gap in an opponent's guard instantly.
  • More power.
  • Better balance.
  • The ability to control an opponent's arms at all times.

The Necessity of a Solid Foundation

Martial artists from other styles sometimes miss the point with sticking hands when they try to add it to their style. In order to work properly sticking hands needs a solid structure (ie. the Wing Chun stance), so that incoming force can be transferred through the body structure to the ground. Wing Chun students usually spend a considerable amount of time developing their stance and practicing sil lum tao form before they even begin to learn sticking hands. To start earlier would be like trying to run before one has learnt to walk. For the same reason single sticking hands are taught for some months before the student moves on to double sticking hands. One must be able to perform the correct movements instinctively before trying to do separate movements with both hands at the same time. The forming of the shapes is very precise and subtle. The feel can only really be passed on through hands on contact with someone who has been taught properly. Students who are taught badly will get tired arms and shoulders when rolling. Students taught incorrectly will also find that while their sticking hands may work during training they will not be able to absorb and deflect heavy striking should they try to employ chi sau in a real situation.

Bio-Mechanics

Chi sau training makes the muscle groups work more efficiently. This is not done by building larger muscles through strenuous exercise; instead chi sau develops power through relaxation. By keeping all the muscles as relaxed as possible a Wing Chun practitioner stops opposing groups from working against each other. For example the biceps serves the purpose of closing the angle on the elbow, (as in a biceps curl), this is working directly against what happens during a punch, when the angle is extended. Logically any tension in the biceps will inhibit the speed and therefore the power of the punch.

Grandmaster Jim Fung

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