Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday




There is a lot going on in Chi Sau,especially for the first few years of training, so many  physical combinations and explorations and that is apart from all the Mental and Emotional stuff, it is also a constantly evolving exercise that keeps us engrossed and self occupied to such an extent that it is really hard for Students to see that they are making some very basic errors that are preventing them from moving forward with any kind of constant improvement.

At the beginning no one really likes Form practice, everyone wants to do Chi Sau or free playing against set attacks, it is why we all take it up after all, so it is no surprise that the majority of Students leave most of what the First Form shows them back in the change room once they start playing Chi Sau.

The cause of most problems in Chi Sau is that we abandon the Body Stacking that is an integral part of the First Form, finding out why we choose to do this no easy task, first we need to become aware of the Physical, Mental and Emotional elements that are in play.

The Guy on the left is doing it dead wrong, he has completely abandoned his correct set up.   FAIL.
The Guy on the left is doing it dead wrong, he has completely abandoned his correct set up. EPIC FAIL.



We are all informed that the most important passage in the First Form for Chi Sau, is delivered before you even move your Arms at the sat art of the Siu Nim Tao Form.

Yes I am referring to the Set Up, raise the Head, open the Shoulders, contract the Anus, soften the Ankles and lower your Centre of Gravity into your Pelvis.

This is the very first thing we are taught and it is essential for everything we do, it is the way that Wing Chun prepares to act, to do Forms to do Chi Sau or to Fight, this is how we teach you to prepare to use your Body.

This Linear Stacking of our Body is the support for the Imaginary Ball, and as we know the Imaginary Ball is one of the fundamentals of Chi Sau, if this support is faulty then the Ball cannot work as it is intended, without this support it is almost not Chi Sau at all.


The Ball is a Mental Construct and has only the slightest connection to any physical shape and  any physical movements that we use, the Ball is completely separate from the Body, thinking that your Chest is somehow the rear of the Ball and that your Arms are the sides changes the way you were taught to stack yourself up in the First Form, changes your shape from a Wing Chun shape to something similar but very, very different and far less functional or effective.

Thinking that each Arm is the Circumference of this Ball and that it contacts you at the centre of your Chest just makes you pull the Shoulders around and cause you Chest to be concave, once again destroying the Body Stacking you built in the First Form.


As difficult as it is we need to find a way to disconnect ourselves from desiring an outcome, I almost want to be a witness to what is going on and not the participant.

This not an easy thing to do, the very act of training of practising, is Us Ourselves trying to DO the process of Chi Sau, this leads to us trying to DO something to our training partner and this leads to us trying to roll our imaginary Ball into or onto our training partner instead of rotating it on its support. Once the imaginary Ball rolls forwards it is essentially trying to leave its support, leave our Body, but in reality there is no Ball, just our Arm Structures, and they are connected to us at the Shoulder, so we wind up moving our Shoulders forward and this destroys the Body Stacking that we develop in the First Form.


If you observe someone that is competent at Chi Sau you will notice that their Chest is open, if you observe someone that is not so competent you will notice that their Chest is concave, this is by far the biggest single flaw in many Students Chi Sau, and the multitude of small problems this causes through out the whole Body are a constant challenge to Balance, Body Unity and the ability to have a tension free Muscles.


If only it was that easy.

Why do students abandon the Body Stacking that is inherent in the First Form?

Because all future issues stems from that.

Is it due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of understanding?

Is it due to a lack of trust?

Is it due to Ego and trying to impose yourself on your Partner that ultimately leads to pushing and the dislocation of your Set Up?

A good place to start trying to be more integrated is to widen your Torso, allow your Shoulders to just open up and to soften your Ankles. All of these are aspects of the Siu Nim Tao set up and initiating them may just get your Brain to connect to the First Form.


This is as much a Mental Self Image exercise as it is a physical reality, if you awareness is thinking sideways it is very difficult to pull your Shoulders around reaching for you partner and caving in your Chest.


Just that, let them open, do not get distracted by thoughts of them dropping in a certain direction or to a certain place, once you open your Shoulders you are no longer in control so they will drop to a place that is natural and easy {this will also encourage you to roll towards your own centre and not forwards} trying to control or guide where they drop to requires the intervention of Muscles, this creates tension and ultimately leads to the use of Force.

You will also begin to become aware of your Centre of Gravity as it drops from Shoulder height to Chest height, and then it is quite easy to keep your Centre of Gravity low in your Pelvis.

For some reason many Students think that dropping your weight means to drop it on your Partner, this is just another form of pushing, dropping your weight means exactly that, drop it,  stop holding it up allow it to sink….. into yourself.


Tensed Ankles prevent the free flow of energy, this creates tension in the Calf Muscles and begins to infect every Muscle in the chain above it right back up to your Shoulders, they are also the “Outpost at the edge of the Empire”, when you send a message to them to relax and be easy every other Muscle hears it as it is passed on and thinks “I think I will give that a go”.

Never forget that Chi Sau is Chum Kiu, even when standing still you should be using your whole Body to support your Arms.




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