Tan Sau, Bong Sau, and your Scapula!

This week I discuss something that has changed how I go about using my shoulders in Wing Chun!

The scapula is vital to our shoulders and if you were like me, you’re probably unaware of how important it is to shoulder movement.

I’ve been recovering from a shoulder injury since October and have been going to physical therapy (sports medicine) to work on it.

During my first session, while going through the motions of using my shoulders to diagnosis the problem, my physical therapist (Eric) said I “hike my shoulders” when I use them. This looks like I’m bringing my shoulders to my ears when I’m raising them. Eric says that is because I wasn’t using my scapula to support my shoulders and instead, was using my traps (the muscles between the neck and shoulder).

This made me realized that I did the same when I rolled from Tan Sau to Bong Sau in Chi Sao. I would rely on my traps to roll and this would fatigue my shoulders. I decided to try using my techniques with focus on relying on my scapula.

In November, I went to class to try it out and also to give my shoulders a stress test to see if I can return to class. I didn’t try to go all out and instead focused just on my technique. This is what I discovered:

– Using the scapula put less strain on my shoulders and I didn’t feel the same heaviness and fatigue from when I relied on my traps.

– I focused a lot more on my structure. The height of my Tan Sau and Bong Sau was higher when I used my traps but now with only my scapula, the position is much lower, so I need proper structure to defend properly.

– My sensitivity improved and surprisingly made it easier for me to spot openings during Chi Sao.

This was all from just one class. I won’t be returning to class until December but I hope to return with the same results!

This worked for me but I’m not sure if it will work for you. But! Try focusing on using your scapula the next time you’re doing Chi Sao or using techniques that requires your shoulders and let me know if it helps! Very curious!



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Hey there, welcome!

My name is Edgar and I started learning Wing Chun in August 2009. This website chronicles my Wing Chun training and offers my perspective to other Wing Chun practitioners. I am not an instructor or a grand master, I am just a student.

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