Wing Chun System – Chi Sao
September 16, 2017 Sifu Garry's

Wing Chun Kung Fu Chi Sao

When someone mentions wing chun, the first thing that comes to mind is, Chi Sao.

Chi Sao, is an extremely important component of the wing chun kung fu system.

There are also different versions of chi sao other martial arts systems have developed.

Chi Sao, is often referred to as “sticking hands” or contact reflexes.

Chi Sao is not a style of fighting. It is a training method to enhance our close range combat skills.

By practicing chi sao, one will improve contact sensitivity and superior positioning.

Finding the path with the least resistance and developing forward intention stems from training SLT.

Practicing Chi Sao also enhances trapping and controlling skills.

Practitioners will lock arms and learn to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure and “feel”.

This increased sensitivity from these drills will help to attack and counter an opponent’s movements precisely.

In the wing chun system, a practitioner will not retract his attack and look for another opening.

A wing chun fighter, upon encountering a “block” will redirect the force and the path with the least resistance.

The main intention of a wing chun practitioner is to attack and control the opponents centreline.

As we close the gap, chi sao is an excellent tool for redirecting the opponent’s attack.

This will enable to counter through the path with the least resistance and continue to attack and control the center line.

Chi Sao will only work when there is some form of contact with your opponent.

During a fight, if there is no contact or very little contact, chi sao cannot be activated or utilized.

If you are fighting a Boxer, it is virtually impossible to use chi sao, because of the dynamics involved.

This is why, I believe, there are other equally important fighting concepts to develop when training wing chun.

In my travels to China over the last 6 years, I have experienced 3 diverse forms of chi sao in the wing chun kung fu system.

Rolling arms chi sao (lok sao) is the basic 2 arm chi sao that most wing chun schools practise.

There are wing chun schools that practice huan sao chi sao, generally from the Kulao and Yuan Kah San Systems.

The most surprising form of Chi Sao I have seen is in Foshan, from Ip Man’s legacy.

They lock arms and forcibly attack their opponents centre line with powerful punches.

The following comments do not have any inferences to any wing chun schools in China or Australia.

The comments are my personal views, in general, and should not be taken politically.

Sifu Garry believes, a student must have a fundamental structure or foundation of wing chun.

If not, he will only use his brute force to overpower someone, when starting chi sao too early.

I think a practitioner must have a good understanding of SLT and its concepts, which is a work in progress.

In my teachings, apart from SLT, I will introduce a new student to street survival techniques.

This will include arm grabs, chokes, pushes and shoves, stick and knife attacks, and so on.

This training also indirectly introduces the new student to chi sao, especially when grabbing and shoving are involved.

Wing Chun Drilling is an essential skill requirement.

This enables the practitioner to improve his footwork balance and coordination.

In the Jee shin wing chun system, we have 5 stages of combat.

Non contact position which is just outside the kicking range.

Contact stage which is wrist range.

Exchange range which is at the elbow.

These first 3 ranges of combat will dictate what the practitioner can use practically and successfully.

If we can bridge the gap successfully on the opponent and make contact we can then use our chi sao skills.

In the Leung Bik/Ip Man system, we incorporate high kicks and high elbow attacks, using a high guard.

Our SLT form is practised at head level, as well.

The Jee shin wing chun system has flying entry techniques to bridge the gap quickly.

Our first intention is to make contact with the arms, take the balance and control the opponent.

This is where chi sao may take its place.

We are an attacking style of wing chun.

When making contact our chi sao skills or close range reflexes must be very efficient.

People have said to me, “chi sao is crap”; “come and try your chi sao on me” and I have replied,

“I don’t need to”. When you touch me or make contact, then, I will use my chi sao.

I also have met wing chun people that think the best position to be in, is close range.

Sifu Garry states:

If you are fighting someone taller and larger, being in close would be suicide.

It is the last place you would want to be.

That’s why the 3 stages of combat must be used, dynamically and practically.

My schools do spend a lot of time practising various forms of chi sao.

We also concentrate on bridging the gap and countering random attacks.

If the opponent tries to grab, push or overpower us, then our chi sao comes into play.

The Leung Bik/Ip Man system is such a practical street fighting system.

It can be adapted for any type of competition.

Traditional Wing Chun is a very practical self defence system for the streets.

It is a true Taoist system.

Go with the flow and adapt to any situation.

In Jee shin wing chun system, we do not start basic single arm chi sao for at least 6 months.

Initially, students need to develop their coordination.

Students need a good understanding of range and distance and develop their footwork.

A good fighter hits and doesn’t get hit and his tool to allow this to happen is footwork.

Concentrate on balance training, which will enhance your speed and power.

Develop an arsenal of techniques to call upon to improve your coordination and reflexes.

Then, you will have a solid foundation to improve your chi sao skills.

Chi Sao is a brilliant wing chun training method to enhance close range fighting skills.

But, do not start it too early!