Chi Sau allows us to explore what we can do once we touch arms with an opponent, if we wish to make the most of our training time and to develop a deeper understanding it makes sense to firstly ask ourselves

Why do we touch arms with our opponent?  

Questions like this never have a right / wrong answer, they are open ended and can have many answers, being as truthful as we can be will help us understand the difference between what we think we are training, what we are really training, what we are actually learning, what we can take away from our training and use, often our answers will not be what we think they are and will bring up other questions in unexpected directions that can lead to new discoveries about both ourselves and the usages and value of Chi Sau.

For instance

Q.  Why do we touch arms with our opponent?

A . To absorb and redirect their force.

This sounds reasonable and much like basic Chi Sau explanations until

Q. If we absorb and redirect their force and still get hit is this correct?

A. Hmmm.

Obviously the reason we touched arms with our opponent was in the first instance not about absorbing or redirecting force after all.

Let’s try again

Q. Why do we touch arms with our opponent?

A.  To prevent them from hitting us.

An answer that appears to tick the right boxes until

Q. Do we really need to engage their arms to prevent them from hitting us?

A.  Hmmmmmmmm.

Let’s try again

Q. Why do we touch arms with our opponent?

A.  Because they are attacking us.

Perfectly acceptable

Q. Did they attack our bridge or did we intercept their strike?


Without attention to the details Chi Sau becomes a social diversion that gets turned away from its main purpose of allowing us to find answers to problems we believe are likely to happen in a violent encounter, it becomes a game that is played for its own sake and diminishes its use as a training tool for fighting.

In Chi Sau we can work on attack, defence, how to move, how to stay still under pressure, how to redirect or how to smother but they should all be guided  by the idea of what the Bad Guy is trying to do to us, the question the Bad Guy is asking and the answer we wish to develop to deal with it.

Just rolling arms and talking about old times will not cut it when things get real.


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