Chi Sau is Chum Kiu, we seek our partners bridge and then try to roll it away, the seeking of the bridge in Chi Sau is an “Internal aspect”, we seek to place our awareness in our partners bridge, we are not “Externally” pressing our partners bridge, we are not trying to find it.

Think about this for a moment.

If Chi Sau is to prepare us for combat, and if Wing Chun is a “Counter-attacking” martial art we have no need to try to find our opponents arm / strike because it is in the process of finding us, we just wait and meet it.

 It can be very difficult to maintain this Internal idea while playing Chi Sau, our Ego wants to get involved and tries to control or manipulate our opponent, we can even engage in a type of sparring through Chi Sau, which if you think about it, and you are honest, is a total contradiction of all Wing Chun theory.

What is the learning objective of Chi Sau?

If Chi Sau is Chum Kiu and Chum Kiu is how we address the moment of contact then Chi Sau is equally about how we address the moment of contact. 

In application we would be talking split seconds of active contact and not minutes of rolling.

Make contact – roll away, break contact – punch.

Wing Chun uses chain punching when attacking, or at least relentless striking, so we would make contact and break contact in the blink of an eye.

In training when practising basic Lok Sau, the rolling arms, only one person, partner “A” can be actively involved in a Wing Chun learning objective, the other partner “B” deliberately and purposefully suspends all Wing Chun theories and engages in pushing and applying direct force to “A’s” bridges. In this way “A” can work on how to maintain his shape, his “Body Being”, rolling away “B’s” force and taking the weight into his own body.

“B” is not trying to hit “A” just apply steady pressing {however it is beneficial if the shapes are like strikes}, in this way “A” can experiment using Chum Kiu pivoting and shifting under pressure, observing what happens when you pivot with a Chum Sau, shift sideways with a Tarn Sau or shift back with Jut Sau.

Without presence of mind, constant awareness of the objective, and good supervision this can degenerate rapidly into  Arm Wrestling.

Chi Sau is not concerned about moving our opponents arms, this happens as a by-product caused by our own movement, Chi Sau is about developing trust in the fact that we cannot be prevented from moving our own arms any time and anywhere we think fit irrespective of the amount of force presented to them.

This is how we gain confidence in our defensive structures and ideas, this is how we learn.

Another learning objective in Chi Sau is the development of sensitivity.

Sensitivity to what?

I have heard it said that we are gaining the sensitivity to feel what our opponent is intending to do so that we can pre-empt them, even if this was possible it would only be of use when playing Chi Sau when we are rolling for minutes, it would be redundant in the split second of make contact – roll away, break contact – punch which is the reality of what Wing Chun does in combat. 

I do wish to be sensitive to my partner, but only in so much that I can be aware of where his weight is coming from so that I can understand what shape I need to be for it to enter my frame and settle in my centre so that I can destroy his stability with my movement, once I have this knowledge tied down and stored away it will become the shape I choose to make contact, mostly I want to be sensitive to myself, to what is happening to my “Body Being” while engaged.

Information is drip fed to us through our Forms, jigsaw pieces dropping at different times for no real reason, my Sifu once told me “this is just where that particular piece of information is stored”, for instance there is an aspect of the Mok Jan Jong that is essential for Chi Sau if we wish to be able to transfer it into a fighting skill, and that is as soon as any resistance is placed on our arm we move away from it, we change our shape, change the relation ship, this is Chi Sau in application.  Make contact – roll away, break contact – punch.  It may be contained in the fourth Form but most of us are introduced to it when we start Dan Chi Sau as running palms.

Chi Sau allows us to see the full gamut of the Wing Chun defensive idea, we are learning how to defend ourselves equally on both sides of our body and from multiple directions.

Chi Sau rolling is a practice tool that has us deliberately defending with both arms at once, Wing Chun does not do this, in fact we advise against it, so it is not a suggestion for a plan of engagement, it is the exploration of ideas, and like so many of the things we do with both arms a way to maximise our training time.

As popular as it is Chi Sau sparring is a practice to be avoided, if you wish to have a go at each other get it on properly with a partner throwing genuine, random shots at you so that you can identify how everything we do is based in Chi Sau but not Chi Sau.

Chi Sau sparring is defending with two arms and then forcing a strike through your partners bridge, what part of “when the arms are FREE strike through” does this reflect?


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