Little Things = Big Things: The RIGHT Way To Train Your Chi Sau Skills For Self Defense and the Street

I always say that the best and quickest way to get better at Wing Chun in the only way that counts- personal protection and combat skill-is to keep the end goal (again, personal protection and combat skill) in the back of your brain while concentrating fully on whatever task you are working on.

I train Wing Chun for fighting skill and to be able to use it in a street situation should I ever need to.  However, that does not mean that my training deviates away from structure and technique work.  Not at all.

What it means to Wing Chun folks is simple: if you plan to ever use your Wing Chun in the street or in a combat sport, you need to familiarize yourself with functionalizing your skills, not abandoning them in favor of thai kicks and right hooks.

Functionalized Wing Chun training is more conceptual in nature and crosses any lineage lines, so it can be easily integrated with any other form of training or left alone can be developed in devastating fashion.

In the above clip my training partner and I are simply working on maintaining forward pressure and triangular structure.  This round was not about hitting: it was about maintaining structure and forward pressure and moving forward when the opportunity presented itself.

In line with what I just said earlier: we compartmentalized our rolling so as to focus on different skills all while knowing that everything we do has its’ roots in self-defense and in such a situation I can think of nothing more important than preserving your structure.  That will allow you to escape, re-assess or engage any attacker on your terms.

Overcommit to anything and shit will be decided for you, and usually not in the way you would have liked.

Chi Sau is one of those things that is all too often completely mistaken for either actual fighting itself or some weird, non-contact “patty cake” drill that makes about as much sense as pulling punches an inch from the guy’s chest like the old karate tournaments used to be.

I know every Wing Chun guy and his cousin has weighed in on this issue but here goes: chi sau is a drill; it is not fighting.

When I see two people chi sau and it degenerates into either blind chain punching or some herky-jerky posing like something you’d see in a 1970’s Run Run Shaw movie follwed by some half-assed flailing like two salmon just pulled out of a river under the guise of “realism” all I have to say to those folks is this: if you want to train fighting then get yourselves some face cages, MMA gloves, groin cups and have at it!  That’s what they are there for.

On the other hand, training chi sau where the end game is trying to stick to each other’s wrists no matter what leads to such deviation from centerline dominance and forward pressure that these folks look like they’re driving a school bus.

Again, chi sau is a drill that is done to hone a very specific set of skills – namely structure, body unity and the idea of shooting the hands forward when there is no obstruction; it is not a fight, however, for it to be useful at all it must retain all of the combative attributes of fighting.  You must de-focus your mind away from merely getting a “hit” in.

Notice how my hands consistently shoot from the center towards my partner’s center.  When my attack is stuffed or stopped do I reach around or try to pose with a tan-da?  Nope.  I readjust based on stepping drills and forward pressure, shoot my hand forward and create an opening.  When there is no obstruction, I shoot forward.

Now some folks will look and think, “all they are doing is punching forward, banging their arms together like two kids playing swords.”

I can see how it may look that way at first but think of this: we are honing and developing very acute angles of attack and deflection which was the whole point of this round.

This type of training actually echoes the luk dim boon gwun (6 and a half point pole) training very closely in the fact that both types of training seek to have us identify and exploit very acute angles.  This will lead us to moving less and conserving energy to really steamroll any thug or prick who ever decides to attack us.  As the saying goes, a place for everything and everything in its’ place…

You have to train yourself to strike at the right time with the right structure and base it off of openings (presented or created) and not loop-a-dooping your arms around to the sides or all over the place for the sake of touching your partner.  Structure is KEY.


Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby

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