The Four Open Hand Forms of Wing Chun

Today we talk about the four types of open hand forms in Wing Chun.

There are four open hand forms in my school, they are: Sil Lim Tao, Chum Kiu, Mook Jong (Wooden Dummy) Form, and Biu Tze. I believe they all fit a certain role in Wing Chun.

1) Sil Lim Tao (Foundation) – Learning the fundamental techniques

2) Chum Kiu (Defense) – Learning to defend, counter, and make contact with opponent

3) Wooden Dummy (Application) – Learning to apply our techniques and moving around an opponent

4) Biu Tze (Attack) – Learning to use aggressive techniques to attack our opponents with our elbows and finger thrusts (to opponent’s eyes)

These are just my perspectives of the form. What do you think? What’s your take on each form? Let me know in the comments!

Doing Our Wing Chun Form with Intent

Today we talk about focusing on our intent while we do our Wing Chun form!

What do I mean by intent? I’m referring to the things that goes through my mind when I’m doing the Wing Chun forms.

At the beginning, I focused on the movement.

Now, I focus on the intent and thinking about the application as I go through the form.

Let’s use an example. We’re going to use Fook Sau because we’re going to give Fook Sau some love this episode.

When I do Fook Sau during Sil Lim Tao, I…

– …focus on keeping my elbows in, towards my center, because the Fook Sau occupies the same space that a straight punch needs to strike through.

– …keep my fingers relaxed but still together because I don’t want to end up flexing my arms and creating more tension.

– …let my wrist rest because if I’m in contact with my opponent, I can rely on sensitivity.

Now going through the entire form, my mind is thinking about something different for each movement because each movement has a different purpose. I should no longer zone out and go through the motion. I mean I can but I rather be in the moment and focus on each part of the form.

Question: When you do your form, what goes through your mind? Let me know in the comments!

Chambering the Punch in Wing Chun Forms

Today we’re going to talk about chambering the punch.

My Sifu has explained it to be a part of our training to train our mind to be at two places at once. This is the fundamentals of remembering we have two hands that we can use at the same time.

When we’re going through the forms, we are doing two different things with our arms at the same time.

It may not seem that way but when you pay attention to it, you’ll realize it takes effort to keep one arm chambered while the other moves through the motions of the techniques.

By actively focusing on both the movement of the technique and keeping the other arm in place, we’re splitting our thoughts to focus on two things.

Tip: Keep elbows in and as close to my side when my arms are chambered.

Overtime, through repetition, practice, and training, it becomes a part of us and we can just do it without having to think about it.

Question
What other little details have you noticed in your Wing Chun that has a greater purpose for your training?

Additional Notes When Doing Open Hand Forms

  • Don’t bob up and down when doing the forms. Stay the same height throughout the form
  • Keep the pace of each movement in the form the same
  • I used to rush through every technique and form so I can move on to the next NEW thing. The problem was that by doing so, I didn’t pay attention to all the little details along the way which would have helped me understand the next technique or form better.

    If I were to do it all again, I would tell my younger self to stop rushing, take your time, and pay attention to the details.

    I’ve been doing the open hand forms for years and only now am I discovering that some of my movements and form are slightly off. This makes it a little difficult to correct because of muscle memory but by writing up these notes and reviewing them, they make a great reminder on what I need to focus on when I do the forms. Mastery is in the details.

    Shan Wu Kung Fu School – Learn Wing Chun in New York City

    If you’re looking for a Wing Chun school in New York, come visit the school I train in! You can sit in, and watch, for the entire class. Sifu Thierry Remion will be available to answer any of your questions during class.

    You can visit the official school website here: https://www.shanwuwingchun.com

    Location

    The Clemente Soto Velez Center

    107 Suffolk St.
    Studio 203
    New York, NY 10002

    Schedule

    Wednesdays 6:30pm – 8:30pm
    Saturdays 10:00am – 12:00pm

    Let’s Talk About Sil Lim Tao

    Sil Lim Tao or “Little Idea” is the first form of the Wing Chun system. The form covers the fundamentals of Wing Chun.

    Many people may rush through forms to get to the next without understanding how important it is before moving on. I have to admit that I was one of those students and it wasn’t until I was learning Biu Tze did I realize how my training could have been more effective if I paid attention to my body when I was doing my previous forms.

    Here’s a short video explaining my reasoning behind doing Sil Lim Tao slowly.

    Basically, if you are new to Wing Chun, your body has not adapted yet so it’s harder to perform Wing Chun techniques. By doing the form slowly, you work out parts of your body that you have never worked out before because you hit the smaller muscles that aren’t normally triggered when exercising or doing things in your everyday life. These muscles are activated when you start your Wing Chun training. Similar to working out at the gym or at home, you don’t see results if you speed through the workout. Instead, you should take your time to put effort into maintaining good form to obtain better results.

    So the next time you’re doing your form, pay attention to your body. If you feel tension in parts of your body as you’re doing your form, you’re exercising new muscles that will help you to improve your technique and form in Wing Chun!

    Let’s Do Sil Lim Tao Together

    I recorded this video on my phone because I wanted to capture my entire body doing the form. Since the sound quality wasn’t great, I mixed in some music. Let me know if it’s too distracting!

    This is the first time I recorded myself doing my Sil Lim Tao form in a very long time. I was definitely nervous and slightly tensed.

    I’m glad I took this chance to see how my form looks and definitely took notes on where I can improve. Here are the things I noticed:

  • The Huen Sau close is too fast, I should do it slower to really work my forearms.
  • My foot placement wasn’t aligned and I didn’t notice it while I was doing the form.
  • After the meditative section of the form, I should maintain the same pace but instead I sped up.
  • Each strike should be more clear and prominent. I sped through them.
  • Overall, I should slow down and focus more on each movement.

    I hope you guys try recording yourselves doing the form as well. It’s a good way to spot your mistakes and improve your form!

    Sil Lim Tao on the Wing Chun Dummy

    Last week I asked you guys for ideas and suggestions for future Practice Wing Chun topics. David sent me an email asking about practicing open hand forms on the Wing Chun dummy so I decided to create a mini series that covers just that. I’m still accepting ideas and suggestions or questions. I will cover them all!

    This week’s video suffered a bit of technical difficulties in the last half of the video. The camera moved and lost focus, and everything is a blur. But the audio is still informative so I have left the video as is. I plan to make up for it in Part 2 and review it again. But if you can’t wait and want it corrected now, let me know and I’ll make an addendum video.

    But other than that, let me know if this video is useful for you and would like to see more videos like this.

    And, if you’re already practicing your open hand forms on a dummy, what are your tips? Share them in the comments!

    Section 2 is much more complex than section 1. It requires the form to be broken down into 9 smaller sections. This also makes it easier to apply the movements to the dummy. If you require more details for each section, let me know!

    Almost all the sections in Part 3 can be done on the Wing Chun Dummy. If you’re training the Sil Lim Tao form, I think Part 1 and Part 3 are the easiest to work with because it doesn’t require readjusting the dummy’s position or striking a different part of the body.

    I think Part 3 is very straight forward with the exception of three strikes: The Rib Strike, Fingers Down Palm Strike, and the Upper Palm Strike. I hope that the video is enough to demonstrate how it’s done but if not, please let me know and I will create another video to add on to it!

    It was a lot of fun doing the Sil Lim Tao form with the Portable Wing Chun Dummy and I’m looking forward to hearing what you guys think about it. Also, let me know if you find this series useful!

    Additional Notes

  • Fingertips in Jum Sao should be nose level
  • Jum Sao uses forward energy not downwards
  • The meditative section of SLT (Tan Sau and Fook Sau) should end at 135 degree angle of the arm
  • Bong Sau should come out like Tan Sau: Forward and center then flip to Bong Sau
  • The section with closing swipes, the top swipe starts from elbow crevice, not the bicep
  • And if you don’t know Sil Lim Tao and are looking to learn the form, I would recommend checking out Sifu Chuck’s training videos. You can read my review here.

    Chi Sao Sessions with Other Wing Chun Lineages

    Meeting Different Wing Chun Lineages and Styles

    Session 1

    I met Benny at a family barbecue. We started talking right away once I heard him mention Wing Chun. We talked about our experiences with the martial art, who our Sifus are, and our lineages. I discovered that his Sifu learned directly from Wong Shun Leung and I told him my Sifu learned directly from Ip Chun, so we’re both from the Yip Man lineage.

    We eventually Chi Sao. It’s always interesting to Chi Sao with different people because everyone has their own style, even if we learn from the same teacher. I’ve also had Chi Sao sessions with other people outside of class before and it was always a mixed experience because it would either end in a draw (meaning our defenses/offenses negated each others strikes) or I get smacked up! So this was a new perspective for me to Chi Sao someone where I had more experience.

    I was very casual with Benny because he was new to Wing Chun and just started learning Chi Sao. One thing I noticed right away was that he was not protecting his centerline, which was the same for me when I started but when I mentioned that to him, he said he would Pak the attacks aimed at his centerline. So I tested his defense by attacking his centerline but he wasn’t able to react fast enough.

    The next thing I noticed after several minutes of Chi Sao was that he never switched arms when rolling. His “resting” arm was also not resting at all so he was rolling with both arms while I had one arm rolling and one arm resting.

    After half an hour of Chi Sao we stopped our session, asked each other questions, and discussed the differences between our styles. Benny asked me about shifting and I told him I shift using the middle of our foot whereas he does it on his heels. Some differences that I noticed between Wong Shun Leung and Ip Chun, from our Chi Sao session, was that Ip Chun style is more focused on the centerline and being ambidextrous when striking or defending.

    Even though we had different Wing Chun training, he was able to pick up a few things from our Chi Sao session. More importantly, we both had fun being able to Chi Sao and discuss Wing Chun!

    Do you have experience with other Wing Chun practitioners outside of your Wing Chun school? Tell us about it in the comments below!

    Photo Credit: Snake vs Crane

    Session 2

    Today I share a video of me doing Chi Sao with another lineage! Let me know if you can spot the difference in our style!

    The only thing I was focusing on in the video was trying to land a clean strike on my friend Marc. He made it very difficult because he was constantly applying pressure and not giving me a clear opening to strike. I do land a few strikes but they were not clear or precise compared to the one’s that Marc landed on me. He’s a tank.

    Since I couldn’t land good strikes I had to change my strategy to a defensive one and try to keep away from his strike while looking for a way to counter. The problem was I never had a clear strike so all I ended up doing was defending. Just defending is a losing strategy because defenses fail and it doesn’t stop the opponent’s momentum.

    I still need to work on a lot of things but I have been more focused on my mobility, being able to move around, and changing the angle.

    The weekly Wing Chun meet ups have been really valuable for me and I’ve learned a lot. So if you’re in New York City and want to hang out and do Wing Chun together, let me know! But if you’re not, you should try to see if there’s a meet up in your area because I highly recommend it! Cheers!

    Chi Gerk – An Introduction to Sticky Legs

    I recently started learning Chi Gerk and it’s a completely different than anything I’ve done in Wing Chun. This is because the core component of Chi Gerk is utilizing our legs and kicks. This can be hard for some people to grasp since most of Wing Chun training focuses on the upper body with only a minimum amount focused on our lower body. But the good thing about Chi Gerk is that it has two fundamental combinations whereas in Chi Sao, there are a lot more.

    Here’s a basic guide to getting started with Chi Gerk.

    You can start with these basic warm ups that can train your balance on one leg.

    Step 1: Start with the left foot by picking it up so that your knees are ninety degrees. All the weight should be on the back leg (in this case, the right one).

    Step 2: Rotate the left foot clockwise. The rotation should come from the knee not the ankle. Do ten and then go counter clockwise.

    Step 3: Go back to the lifted leg position. Kick forward and backwards loosely. Do this ten times.

    Step 4: Go back to the lifted leg position again. This time, swing the left foot from left to right. Do this ten times.

    Step 5: In this last step, go back to the lifted leg position and hold. Count to ten.

    Step 6: Take a quick ten-second break and repeat Steps 1-5 with the opposite leg.

    After your warm up, get a partner and practice rolling your legs, going back and forth, and swinging them side-to-side.

    This is done by getting in Chi Sao position but with out rolling the arms. Then, lift one of your legs up and bring it against your partner’s opposite leg so the outside of your leg is sticking to the outside of your partner’s. Now just roll your legs by kicking back and forth loosely. You might be off balanced so be sure to keep the weight on your back leg and make sure your shoulders are squared with your partner’s so that your centerlines are facing each other.

    If you’re still falling out of position, hold each other’s hands for balance. And when you get the hang of it, try it with rolling hands. (Note: I still can’t do this.)

    Going back to the two Chi Gerk combinations. There are two because there are only two ways to go about striking in Chi Gerk. The strikes are either coming from the outside or attacking from the inside and they all require shifting on one leg. This is where it gets tricky because shifting on one leg requires the momentum of your rolling leg. This has been tough for me as my legwork and balance needs a lot of work.

    When I get better at Chi Gerk, I’ll definitely share more training techniques for sticky leg. But for now…

    Do you have any training tips for Chi Gerk? Share them in the comments below!

    Why not Chi Gerk?

    This week we talk about Chi Gerk or why Chi Gerk isn’t discussed much.

    Throughout my entire Wing Chun learning experience, I have only had TWO classes that focused on Chi Gerk (Sticking Feet/Leg). And I believe the reason is because Chi Gerk is very advance.

    To start with Chi Gerk, you need to be able to:

    – Have a stable foundation (root)
    – Have good balance
    – Multitask between upper and the lower body while simultaneously reacting

    Of course, you don’t need all these things but then Chi Gerk won’t be practiced efficiently.

    I have a lot more to learn before I think it’s worth investing time in but I do have a lot of fun when I do mess around with Chi Gerk!

    Have you learned Chi Gerk yet? If so, what do you think? Let me know in the comments!

    Double Your Efficiency in Wing Chun

    After practicing Wing Chun for over 2 years, I think I’m finally beginning to understand Wing Chun. You may already realize it yourself and I guess I have too but never thought of it as a key to effective Wing Chun training until the other day in class…

    The way my class is structured is that we begin with warm ups and then we do our open handed forms, which include Sil Nim Tao, Chum Kiu, and Biu Tze. Afterwards, we divide the class into two lines where seniors are paired with juniors. I always jump on the junior line because I get the chance to work with the senior students and learn from them.

    Once we’re partnered up, we do training drills. After that, we start Chi Sao. We change partners every few minutes. Since I’m in the junior line, I rotate from senior to senior.

    One thing I constantly look forward to in class is having Chi Sao sessions with Joe. Joe is one of the instructors at my Wing Chun school and he kicks my ass. He doesn’t hold back and tells me exactly what I’m not doing properly. I always learn an important lesson from Joe and here’s one that really stuck with me…

    Your defense is in your elbows. I don’t mean elbowing a person when they try to strike. I mean the position of your elbow when you use Bong Sau or Tan Sau. If your elbow is raised too high, it means your shoulders are raised and you expose your lower body where your ribs are. If they’re too low, you risk exposing your upper body and head.

    It’s hard to maintain good elbow etiquette when your body starts getting tired. You know the feeling, don’t you? When you’re doing Chi Sao with someone and your shoulders begin tensing up and your arms are dropping. That’s fatigue kicking in.

    There are a lot of reasons for fatigue. For me, there are days I exercise the day before class and my muscles are still recovering so my arms get tired quicker.

    How should we deal with fatigue and be more efficient?

    My solution for fatigue is to acknowledge it. We get tired, it happens and knowing that, we shouldn’t spend energy throwing useless strikes and doing unnecessary movements.

    Don’t expend all your energy. Know when to strike by waiting for the opening. Flow and stick to your opponent, ride it out so your opponent opens their centerline to you. The best thing to do is wait for your opponent to get tired and slip up, then go in for the counterstrike.

    In the game of stamina, who ever runs out first loses.

    What are other ways you came up with to be more efficient in Wing Chun? Leave your tips in the comments below!

    Everything You Need to Know About Chi Sao

    The 80-20 Principle of Chi Sao

    Over 80% of successful strikes, defenses, or both are from doing only less than 20% of the basic Wing Chun techniques we first learn. In Chi Sao, it’s no different.

    Chi Sao (Sticky Hand) is a Wing Chun drill that can be considered as light sparring. In Chi Sao, we learn how to effectively gauge sensitivity as well as actually striking and defending against a partner but we tend to do flashy or overcomplicated attacks when we Look Sau (roll our hands) during Chi Sao. Most of the time a simple Pak and Punch is enough to get to the opponent. But why do we learn all these other techniques in Chi Sao if we’re only going to be only using the same few techniques 80% of the time?

    The reason is because we learn different techniques is so when we train with a partner we are helping them react to different attacks. It also teaches the sensitivities of different type of attacks so when we feel an attack come a certain way, we logically connect them to the defense drills that we’ve practiced over and over.

    Master your Chi Sao Technique

    By doing the same few techniques over and over, you’re building muscle memory for those techniques and this will help you improve and master them. If you have heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, well in Chi Sao, by doing a single type of attack or defense repeatedly 10,000 times should be enough for you to own that skill and to be very comfortable doing it. When doing your techniques come natural to you, it allows you to start focusing.

    Think about your own Chi Sao training sessions. Think back about when you Chi Sao and the techniques you use and the effectiveness of the ones that you use the most often. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one technique that you have the highest success of striking and the least amount of success your opponent has defending. If you’re already aware of what technique you use that is effective, the next step you need to do is focus on the why.

    The reason this is important is because once you realize what your strengths are, you can now focus on your opponents’ weaknesses and why they’re failing to defend against you. If your technique is successful against the majority then the majority has the same weaknesses. Help your fellow Wing Chun practitioners out. Tell them where they need improvement and show them why they’re unsuccessful. They will be thankful because it’s hard to realize our mistakes and address a solution.

    Feel free to comment below on your Chi Sao training and if the 80-20 principle applies to your Wing Chun.

    Psychology in Chi Sao

    I write up my class notes to share every month. You can read my previous class notes here.

    So, how does sharing class notes help me improve my training? This is why.

    The purpose of these monthly class notes is to:

  • Reflect on what I learned
  • Look back on what I can improve
  • Inspire you to jot down your own notes and improve YOUR training
  • Share my goals and what I want to improve next
  • Get feedback from my peers
  • September was Chi Sao month. I focused on Chi Sao and it’s psychology when practicing with a partner. It definitely made class more interesting and had me very anxious to practice Chi Sao!

    General

    Practice with force in class because it’s the only place where it’s safe to do so.

    Psychology

  • Lead with a strike so the opponent feels danger and react to it
  • Make the opponent react. The goal is always to make the opponent move because if they don’t move then they’re not in any danger and if they’re not in danger, my attack is useless
  • Chi Sao

  • If you begin flailing arms when you’re not in a good position, reset and find the best position to be in and go from there
  • Once you feel the opponent preparing something, go with the flow but counter them
  • If one arm is blocking the other needs to be striking
  • Four quadrants, do not cross quadrants
  • When striking, imagine striking through and past them
  • Final Notes

    Chi Sao was very enjoyable this month because of the new perspectives that my Sifu introduced. I believe the psychology behind Chi Sao is very important: Make the opponent react then exploit their reaction.

    Additional Chi Sao Notes

  • Don’t hesitate rolling when arms are switching in between rolls. Practice rolling in and out without hesitating when switching.
  • Always make sure Tan Sau and Bong Sau has 135 degree angle where the elbow bends.
  • Fook Sau is relaxed from forearm to wrist.
  • When both my arms are resting on opponent’s, follow with arms and not the elbows. Don’t bend elbows. Move with the rolling by raising or lowering the Fook Sau arm.
  • Keep Fook Sau in the centerline. Stick wrist to opponent’s wrist.
  • Keep fingers together to avoid them from being grabbed or jammed.
  • When rolling, transitioning from resting hand to rolling hand, pull in and shoot out when opponent is about to roll into Tan Sau
  • Roll to top when I’m in Tan Sau and lead with the thumb out
  • Bong Sau doesn’t stay static. Once block connects, flip to Tan Sau
  • Step in and lead with strikes
  • Chi Sao

  • Never pull unless it’s Lop Sau
  • Pin opponent, push into them. Bump them
  • When pinning opponent’s arm, make sure that my arm crosses theirs and it’s not parallel
  • Lead with strike first
  • Step in with weight on the back leg
  • Roll with a tune or beat
  • Tan Sau + Bong Sau roll is done as if there is a ball between the hands where each wrist overlaps the other
  • Use elbow to damage or pin opponent. The idea is to use every part of the body, if possible, for maximum efficiency.
  • Tan Sau should hurt the opponent. Blocking should make the opponent think before the next time they strike.
  • If my arms are pushed outside, Pak opponent’s arm and use my sticking arm to roll out and strike. Always look for openings and don’t wait on opponent’s next move; don’t wait, initiate.
  • Fook Sau is 135 degree
  • You miss 100% of the attacks you don’t make
  • Dealing With Frustration During Chi Sao

    Today we talk about the frustration that can occur during Chi Sao.

    For me, it happens at least once per class when I am doing Chi Sao with a junior or senior student partner. They would throw attacks where I can’t find a counter, or answer, to them and I get stuck. I know a possible solution is to use my strength or speed to get out of the situation but one principle that I’ve been training by is one that my Sifu always says. He says to not rely on power or speed but rely on good technique.

    It’s a hard principle to follow because my instincts are always to rely on my strength and speed. Even so, I stop to think of a solution by only relying on my techniques. Of course, this doesn’t always work because a lot can happen in a moment during Chi Sao. In this episode, I share two examples.

    My question for you, do you experience this? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments!

    Look at My Eyes When I Chi Sao With You

    Eye contact is hard.

    Try making eye contact with strangers on the streets. My initial reaction is to look away.

    It’s hard to maintain eye contact because it’s usually for people I’m close with: friends, family, colleagues.

    In Wing Chun class though, it’s even more difficult because during drills or Chi Sao, my opponent is literally a feet away. It feels uncomfortable to maintain eye contact at such a close range. So instead, I would stare at my opponent’s hands. I would also stare everywhere else except my opponent’s face and eye area. And I wasn’t the only one, other people in my class would look to the side of me or past me (because they were taller than me).

    I think it’s important to work past this because I believe we can see a person’s intent through their eyes. Also by focusing on the face area of my opponent, I have the peripheral view of their body so when they’re about to do something, I can see it coming.

    Let me explain. I think that the farther the movement is from the brain, the easier it is to spot it, if you’re looking.

    For instance, let’s use a straight punch. If you look at my punch, you can see the movement from my neck first because I start tensing, then my shoulder raises, my biceps flexes, my elbow extends, then finally my fist.

    The hands are the last thing that moves when a strike comes.

    If I’m spending my time just staring at my opponent’s hands, I am already too late and my opponent has already thrown the punch. All I can do is avoid it by blocking, shifting, or deflecting. I think that’s where the term “chasing hands” comes from.

    Let me know if you think eye contact is important for you.

    Question: What do you pay attention to when you’re doing Chi Sao?

    Eyes Closed Chi Sao

    Today is another class note focused on Chi Sao, more specifically, Eyes Closed Chi Sao!

    The idea behind Eyes Closed Chi Sao (ECCS) is to shut out all your visual distractions and focus on finding openings created by your opponent.

    When I first tried this, it was scary because I couldn’t see what my opponent was going to do with my eyes closed. But when I got used to it, it made it much easier to focus on my opponent’s intent. I don’t know how to describe it any other way but “intent”. I could feel when my opponent is about to step forward or strike, etc. This was because my eyes were closed, I could no longer rely on my sight but had to use my other senses to Chi Sao.

    It’s a very fun drill and I encourage you to try it out with your training partner. Go soft so you don’t hurt each other, especially if it’s your first time. Just roll and see if you can find each other’s openings and try to strike when the opportunity presents itself! Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

    Using a Rash Guard in Wing Chun

    Today we talk about using a rash guard or compression sleeve in Wing Chun.

    It’s summer in New York and it gets really hot in class. This leads to a lot of sweating and it makes training a bit messy when I’m sliding off my opponent’s sweat.

    I’m trying out the rash guards (or as I like to call them, Chi Sao Guards) and here’s what I think so far:

    – It keeps my sweat separate from my opponent and my arms no longer slide off my opponent’s arms during drills and Chi Sao.

    – I’ve never wore long sleeves in class before so wearing these rash guards has been my first experience with sleeves in Wing Chun. I find it uncomfortable and prefer using only my arms.

    – It doesn’t affect my sensitivity or my techniques but once again, it feels different than when I’m just using my arms.

    I plan to continue using them for the remainder of the summer but in the mean time I’d like to know what your take is and if you wear any extra athletic wear for your Wing Chun training. Let me know in the comments!

    Keeping Your Cool in Chi Sao

    Today we talk about keeping your cool and not losing your temper during Chi Sao!

    I see Chi Sao as a game. The goal of playing a game is to win. The goals to winning Chi Sao may not always be clear so the most basic of objectives are to:

    – Be the first to land the strike on my opponent
    – Be the last one capable of striking
    – Be the one with the best technique

    These are great objectives but if there is no clear end to it, it will just continue to be a game of tag and exchanging strikes. This can continue to escalate to a point where either person can become agitated and start losing their cool. This leads to more aggressive behavior, a lost of technique, and regression to determine who’s stronger.

    But I realized that when both persons are clear on their objectives, there is no ego or lost of temper because it is clear what they’re trying to accomplish. I think it’s important to talk to your training partner before each Chi Sao session so that it is clear what both of you are trying to accomplish so that once it’s accomplished, it’s okay to reset positions and start again. I think communication is key to avoiding unnecessary conflict.

    Do you ever lose your cool during Chi Sao or any type of training drill? Let me know how you dealt with it in the comments!

    Defend and Strike in Chi Sao

    Today we talk about defending and striking in Chi Sao, also known as the art of multitasking.

    One of the things that my Sifu always says during Chi Sao is, “never defend with two hands”. If a person is attacking me, they’re probably only going to use one arm which means their other arm is free. So if I use both my arms to defend one of my opponent’s arm, right away I’m at a disadvantage. They have a free hand.

    The same can be applied for striking. If I’m attacking with both my arms, one of them has to be in guard position or else I open myself up for a counterstrike. And personally, I don’t think a two hand strike is an effective way to attack.

    The solution is to always defend and strike. We have two hands so it is possible to do both. It may take time to getting used to it in Chi Sao but if you watch the previous episode (#049), I talk about creating my own Wing Chun form that consisted of my Chi Sao techniques. By having my body memorize the technique, I let my muscle memory guide my body and let my mind think about the next step, whether it’s counter striking or following up with another strike.

    What do you think about this idea of always multitasking in Chi Sao? Let me know in the comments!

    Pinning Your Opponent in Chi Sao

    Today we talk about Chi Sao and how to properly pin your opponent.

    To pin your opponent efficiently, you need to do 4 things:

    1) Strike first so that your opponent feels danger

    2) Clear your opponent’s arm as they defend or react to your strike, meanwhile blocking their other arm from countering you

    3) Step in to close the distance

    4) Bump them to disrupt their flow

    5) Oh and this should all be done simultaneously 🙂

    Do you guys do anything similar in your Chi Sao training? I’m definitely interested in hear what you guys do so let me know in the comments!

    Learn Chi Sao

    If you haven’t learned Chi Sao (Sticky Hands) yet or want to learn different Chi Sao drills, you need to check out Sifu Chuck O’Neill’s Chi Sao video courses. He has two videos out on Chi Sao, the first video is called “Chi Sau Foundations” and is for those who are just starting Chi Sao. The second video is called “Chi Sau Advanced Techniques” and it goes over eight Chi Sao techniques. I have both videos and I have to say that I was surprised…

    We’re both from the Yip Man lineage but his approach to beginning Chi Sao was much different than the way I learned it. Sifu Chuck explains each drill by breaking them down into three sections: introducing the drill, reviewing it, and then adding key points to why the drill is important.

    I actually learned a lot from his hour long “Chi Sau Foundations” video. One thing that differentiated my Chi Sao training and Sifu Chuck’s is that he goes in details the importance of foot work in Chi Sao. Upper body is important but it requires both lower and upper body working in unison for us to be truly effective in Chi Sao and in Wing Chun.

    The videos can be downloaded right away and you can begin training as soon as it’s done downloading.

    You can buy Sifu Chuck’s video course here. (Disclaimer: I will earn a commission if you purchase through this link. I have personally used Sifu Chuck’s videos and I am recommending them because they are helpful and are products that I trust, not because of the commissions that I may earn from you using these products. Please do not spend any money unless you feel you really need it and will help you reach your goals.)

    If you’re an absolute beginner to Chi Sao, I recommend grabbing a friend or training partner to watch the videos so that you can train along. One note though, don’t try to digest everything in one day, there’s a lot of information in each video but the benefit of having a downloadable video course is that you can rewatch it whenever you want.


    Preview of Sifu Chuck’s Chi Sau 1 Video

    Photo Credit: S_R2009

    All The Ways You Can Relax and Take Care of Your Shoulders for Wing Chun

    I know I mentioned how to keep the shoulders relaxed at the end of Part 1 of the Body Conditioning series but I want to delve in to it more and explain the importance of having relaxed shoulders in Wing Chun.

    Chi Sao, Tan Sau, Bong Sau, Gan Sau, Fook Sau, punching, and all any other moves that involve using our arms require the shoulder to be loose. Once your shoulders are relaxed, the rest of your body follows. Wing Chun becomes the most effective when we’re relaxed.

    For many beginners, and even intermediate students of Wing Chun, keeping the shoulders relaxed is one of the hardest things to do. It’s a natural reaction to resist an attack by defending with force and strength. It takes a lot of training to overcome this bad habit but it’s definitely possible.

    Here are 3 ways to train your shoulders to relax.

    1. Drop your shoulders. If you’re naturally hunched over or have big shoulders, just drop them by reaching your hands towards the ground. You might feel some tension from your neck. The tension comes from the stretching of your neck.

    This is something you can do anytime and anywhere. Once you feel yourself stiffening up while you’re walking down the street or when you’re sitting at the dinner table, or whenever you feel tense, drop your shoulders.

    2. Stretch your shoulders. You can do this by going into Tan Sau and pulling your elbows towards your centerline with the opposite hand.

    In addition to stretching your shoulders, you’re also conditioning your elbow to be closer to your centerline.

    3. Be aware of your body. Of the three, this is the hardest to do because Wing Chun already requires doing multiple things at once and adding this to the list won’t make training easier. But if you can recognize what makes you tense up, you can use that knowledge to focus on figuring out what you can do to keep calm and relaxed when facing the situation.

    For me, one thing I notice when I Chi Sao is that my right arm and shoulder are much tenser than my left side’s and I believe the reason for that is because I’m right handed and I usually begin rolling with my right arm. During intense Chi Sao sessions, it’s my opponent that tells me to loosen up because they can feel my arms stiffen up before I do and they take advantage of this. So to adapt, I become aggressive by striking instead of waiting to defend when I feel myself getting stiff. It’s not always a good tactic to cover myself with a frenzy of strikes but it helps condition myself to react.

    Ultimately, the benefits of this training is to keep us relaxed. Remaining calm and adapting to challenging situations keeps us fluid and from not overreacting when facing new challenges, whether in Wing Chun or in life.

    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!

    What should I do when my shoulders are sore from too much Chi Sao

    How to keep your shoulders relaxed in Wing Chun

    Body Maintenance

    There are two types of body maintenance: staying fit and preventing damage.

    Staying fit means exercising and making sure our body is sharp and ready to train or practice Wing Chun.

    Preventing damage means taking care of the body and addressing any issues you have now.

    If you’re doing martial arts, I consider you an athlete because we use our bodies differently than normal people.

    I believe taking care of the body should be higher priority than training through pain because it can make things worse in the long run.

    I recommend physical therapy for any current muscle or joint damage especially if you’ve been dealing with them for a while. Look for physical therapists in the sports science field because they work with athletes and know how to treat damages for high impact and intense physical activities.

    Without a well maintained body, you can’t train properly, so take care of it!

    My question for you is: Are there any damages on your body that’s been bothering you? If so, why haven’t you gotten it checked?

    Wing Chun Training Without a Partner

    Learning Wing Chun and practicing Wing Chun are two different things! All I have to do to learn is go to class. But to practice, it’s hard for me to set up a time to train with my friends outside of Wing Chun class because everyone is busy, including myself. Most of the time, my only option is to practice by myself.

    How to practice Wing Chun at home

    I normally go through all my forms including the weapons form. Even though I don’t have the weapons at home, I still do the forms openhanded.

    Butterfly KnivesWing Chun Butterfly Knives

    Wing Chun Long PoleWing Chun Long Pole

    I also practice my Wing Chun dummy form without a Wing Chun dummy by using my imagination and just doing it with my eyes closed. It’s funny because when I finish, I never end up where I started! I think training without a dummy has its benefits because it forces me to imagine a target and making sure my form is correct. It’s hard sometimes when going back to class and practicing on an actual mook jong just because it’s really there and I’m practicing on something physical.

    Another important thing I try to keep my focus on during my Wing Chun training is shifting. After training in Wing Chun for over a year and a half, I have to say that shifting is still one of my weak points. It still hasn’t come naturally for me to shift when being pushed; I still take a step back. The only benefits that I have reaped from shifting training is shifting while keeping my hands in a Tan Sau and Bong Sau – this itself has strengthened my Tan Sau and Bong Sau and thanks to muscle memory, I have also been able to automatically shift when I do one or the other together.

    Training Alone vs Learning Alone

    This week I talk about a question I get asked often, “which videos (or learning material) do you recommend to LEARN Wing Chun?”

    My answer has always been, “Find a Wing Chun school first.” It’s more practical because you’re learning with proper instruction and you have a class full of people to practice with.

    Books, videos, and other learning materials don’t provide that. You need someone to correct and teach you proper form or you end up with bad technique.

    But! This doesn’t mean that books or videos are useless. I use both. I didn’t buy them to learn, I bought them to help with my training. I use them to review and build on top of what I already know.

    So my question for you is, do you have books, videos, or anything else to help with your training? Let me know in the comments!