Chi sao

Chi sao (Chinese 黐手, Cantonese chi1 sau2, Mandarin chǐshǒu) or “sticking hands”. Term for the principle, and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of “sticking” to the opponent. In Wing Chun this is practiced through two practitioners maintaining contact with each other’s forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and “feel”. This increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponent’s movements precisely, quickly and with the appropriate technique.

Chi sao is very similar to the hubud-lubad drills of Eskrima. It looks somewhat like the push hands training of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. (Some lineages even refer to Wing Chun as “combat Tai Chi”[1]. Chi sao is also taught in the Jeet Kune Do traditions, and uses modified versions of some of the component techniques such as the bong sao and jut sao. Baguazhang uses its own form of chi sao, which involves one hand of each practitioner being “stuck together” at the wrist while they try to unbalance each other or perform a Chin Na (joint-lock) technique.

Chi Sao additionally refers to the Luk Sao (methods of rolling hands) drills. Luk Sao participants push and “roll” their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain relaxed. The aim is to feel forces, test resistances and find defensive gaps. Other branches do a version of this where each of the arms roll in small separate circles. Luk Sao is most notably taught with in the Pan Nam branches where both the lager rolling dills and the method where each of the arms roll in small separate circles are taught.

In some branches (most notably the Yip Man and Jiu Wan branches) chi-sao drills begin with one-armed chi-sau (dan chi sao) which helps the amateur student to get the feel of the exercise. Each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other.

Chi Sao is only a sensitivity drill. An exercise used to obtain specific abilities. It must not be confused or mistaken as a sparring equivalent.

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