Ip Man stated that there are 3 hands {Sau’s} in Wing Chun, Tarn Sau, Fook Sau, and Bong Sau.

A standard training model in Wing Chun is to study the bio-mechanics of all the Forms, especially the first Form, known to most as the S.L.T. 

As a result, training tends to become full of statements like “Rise up, sink down, focus forward, and relax”.

As important as these things are they have the potential to lead students away from the true purpose of  Wing Chun, which is of course dealing with violent people that mean us harm.

In the lineage that I am part of, there are almost 500  moves in the 6 combined Forms.

It is inevitable that students will get lost and start thinking that at least some of these moves are important.

I assure you, THEY ARE NOT.

They may even believe that these moves are a representation of what Wing Chun is.

Once again, THEY ARE NOT.

They may start believing that to be successful in a fight you must relax when in truth, most people who survive violent street encounters do not recall what they did that was so successful.

Usually, it was a lucky punch that saved the day.

As Arnold Palmer once noted when a spectator called one of his shots lucky  “it sure was, and the more I train the luckier I get”.

So, training is important if we ever hope to get lucky.

What should we be training? 

What should we look at taking away from that training?

What are all of the Forms and all of the buzzwords teaching us to understand?

Learning a Form or even all the Forms will only teach us how to do a Form.

Chi Sau will only teach us how to do Chi Sau.

Relaxing will only ever help us to relax. 

Many of my contemporaries will of course argue with this, but there is no getting away from the fact that all training is catastrophically task-specific.

This is mostly due to the way that our brain stores information and has little to do with the training methods of past Grand Masters.

What is our training trying to teach us?

Keep it simple.

Wing Chun always tries to keep things simple, it is teaching us how to dissipate force and expel force, it is teaching us how to hit another person and how to avoid being hit by another person.

That’s it.

Every move in every Form can be used for defensive purposes or attacking purposes, so it cannot be the move itself that is important.

If we think about it we can parry with a punch, we can strike with a Fook Sau, studying punches and Fook Saus in their own right is pointless.

We should study what it is they are trying to achieve, once we understand this we can do it with any posture, any movement, any name.

What we are trying to achieve is shaped exclusively by our Intention.

Intention” is a wide subject, even in something as simple and limited as Forms, so in this instance, I prefer to call it the “Inherent Attribute”, or even easier just “Attribute” of the move.

Ip Man stated that there are 3 hands {Sau’s} in Wing Chun, Tarn Sau, Fook Sau, and Bong Sau.

Everything else stems from them, this is why the first Form is at the core of Wing Chun, it introduces this Trinity for our examination.

It is the Attributes of this Trinity that everything is built upon, not the shape or where it is situated in the Form.

What is the Attribute of  Tarn Sau?

Although we have a shape that we call Tarn Sau we could redirect incoming force with any shape, hence Dai Sau and Bill Sau appear as variations of the Tarn Sau shape, in fact, a Fook Sau latch operates as redirection and when doing so could be seen as working as a Tarn Sau.

Tarn Sau introduces The Attribute of Redirection.

What is the Attribute of Fook Sau?

From my singular perspective, for instance during Chi Sau, the aspect of
Fook Sau is about controlling the space behind my bridge, and not an attempt to exert control on the opponent.

However, if wanted to I could control my opponent by pressing with a Pak Sau or Chum Sau even folding the elbow over but either way, Fook Sau is about control.

It does not matter what I am using if I am controlling my space or controlling my opponent’s Arms with any shape. I am accessing the Attribute of Fook Sau.

Fook Sau introduces The Attribute of Control.

What is the Attribute of Bong Sau?

Bong Sau is the Wing Arm, whenever or wherever we move our Arm we are flapping our Wing, all our Arm movements are us flapping our Wing. 

If we follow this rationale then every time we move our Arm anywhere we are performing Bong Sau, if we are performing the movement we normally refer to as Tarn Sau I am utilising my Bong Sau with the redirection attribute.

Think about that for a moment, digest it.

When performing what we normally refer to as Fook Sau I am utilising my Bong Sau with the control attribute.

Think about that, digest that.

When I strike I simply put a hand weapon such as a Fist, a Knife Hand, or Palm on the end of my Bong Sau.

Bong Sau introduces   The Attribute of Movement.

So much less to learn. So simple.

From this perspective Chi Sau becomes almost magical, all I do is control my own space behind my bridge {Fook Sau}, yet my partner is constantly redirected my action {Tarn Sau}.

This approach to training simplifies all applications, I either redirect or control, and of course strike.

The latter Forms teach us new ways to use our whole body, a Butterfly Knife or a Pole to redirect or control.

First and foremost of the Wing Chun Principles is Simplicity.

Think about that, digest that.




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