Chi Sao – Using the Basics to Create Something New

When I first started Wing Chun, I spent a lot of time trying to learn the basics and be as effective as I could with them. With Chi Sao (Sticky Hands), we learn several basic combinations to go on the offense with and the way to defend against them. I noticed that when I am partnered with a senior student when we do Chi Sao, the senior student would always do something different from what I’ve learned which makes me panic and creates more openings for me to get hit. I tried to be more aggressive and started to combine my combinations but the senior students were always at least three steps ahead of me and countered all my attacks.

Bruce Lee and Yip Man Doing Chi Sao

I was practicing on my portable Wing Chun dummy the other day and as I was practicing the Wing Chun dummy form, I saw a new combination. It wasn’t really a new combination but a mixture of several things I’ve learned from the dummy form and from my Chi Sao combinations. This had me pondering, is this how the senior students practice, by creating new combinations from mixing the basics? That had to be it. After I learned the basic Chi Sao combinations and its variances, my sifu didn’t teach me anything new, so I’m sure the other seniors in my class had to have created their own combinations based on their experience with Chi Sao.

Chi Sao is still a sensitivity training. It doesn’t matter how good my combinations are, it’s about being able to be soft and covertly strike than try to muscle my attacks through. Whenever I get too aggressive, my opponent is able to feel my attacks coming, thus being able to counter me. Now, when I do this, my adrenaline kicks in and I lose focus of my opponent’s sensitivity, making me more vulnerable for attacks.

I am not saying that mastering Chi Sao is the path of being a Wing Chun legend but Chi Sao does demonstrate the level of experience one has in Wing Chun. I still believe that mastering the basic in Wing Chun, whether it is a striking, defending, or remaining calm, is key to being a complete Wing Chun practitioner.

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