Wing Chun is famous for its Chi Sao Sticking Hands practice. Training with Sifu Phu I didn’t start practicing this game for at least 5 or 6 years. Prior to that, I was playing a game we simply call the “Game of Hands.”
The game prepares a person to start rolling aka playing Chi Sao. Some folks think that sticky hands represent real fighting. It does not, instead, it does showcase a person’s ability to deal with pressure.
Wing Chun people who have had years of training and have done hard contact-free sparring understand that the practice of Chi Sao sticking hands can be as relaxing or as intense as the two practice partners agree on.
Before continuing full disclosure, you will see sometimes I spell Sao or Sau or sometimes I write fuk or fook, etc. They are all correct spellings and I use both versions of a word for SEO purposes.
Leading Up To Chi Sao Sticking Hands Practice
First, before you practice Chi Sao you should understand how to use these techniques and concepts.
- Tan Sau
- Fuk or Fook Sau
- Bong Sau
- Lop or Lap Sao
- Luk Sao
- Chi Gerk
- Center Line Theory
An exercise that you would practice before doing Chi Sao would be dan chi sao. A benefit of doing this type of training is developing forward energy and it also better prepares you for realistic scenarios as well as how to deal with your opponent’s force.
It’s important to mention that there are levels to playing wing chun sticking hands. Also, Chi Sao will look different and the emphasize and focus will be a little different between wing chun schools. A reason for this is that a good kung fu teacher will teach according to the individual student’s understanding.
We believe it doesn’t matter what your kung fu looks like. The only thing we are concerned about is if the energy placement is correct.
Learning how to play this sensitivity game teaches you how to bridge the gap between fighting at a hands distance, think jabs or kicks, etc. And it teaches you how to handle close-quarter fighting situations. (Which is where the majority of fights end up).
While it’s true many fights go to the ground, a big reason for that is that not many people know what to do once they enter close range.
Using Chi Sao In a Fight
This is another hotly debated topic. The question comes up can you use Chi Sao in a fight? I will be the first person to say Chi Sao isn’t fighting at all. However, training in it will help you if you ever find yourself in a situation where you will use the skillset you developed from your training.
When you practice rolling, you can literally practice for hours at a time. As you know real fights don’t last hours. In fact, real street fights generally don’t last 10 seconds. So the skills you develop in your training are meant for you to use within the first minute and more often than not the fight is over. Of course, there are no hard rules and there are always exceptions.
Chi Sao Partnered With Tai Chi Push Hands
There are many Wing Chun masters who have incorporated Tai Chi into their practice. Tai Chi helps you develop your internal energy which helps you in your sensitivity training and ultimately it will make you a better fighter.
Also, when you combine these sensitivity drills you automatically are doing good things for your health and wellness. The benefits of training in martial arts have been well documented. What I like so much about these two martial arts is you can competently do both of them well into your old age. Think your 80’s, 90’s, and beyond.
In fact I would dare say that practicing these 2 arts will help you make it to old age.
The Drawback Of Sensitivity Training
A question that comes up often is: How can I practice Chi Sao Alone?
The answer unfortunately is you really can’t train sensitivity without a partner. There are some things that you can do. However for the most part doing Chi Sao or Push Hands or any type of sensitivity training will require a partner that will 1. cooperate with you and 2. Not cooperating with you. Finally, you can use a wooden dummy to train with, unfortunately, that specific training tool doesn’t do much for feeling energy.
Understanding Chi Sao Basics
When you first start learning how to roll it’s important that you focus more of your energy on listening and feeling that you are attacking. I think it’s important at the early stages of learning this game you need to train with someone who isn’t just trying to win.
When your skill increases you can begin to increase the pressure being used and you can start working on your game. But in that early stage of learning, it’s more important to learn how to feel, learn how to relax. The sooner your body learns to relax the quicker you will start to learn how to feel the energy and move with energy correctly. Which is the main reason to train sensitivity.
After you’ve been playing wing chun sticky hands for a while you can start working on becoming a good fighter if that is your thing.