A NOTE ON CANTONESE

I use the Jyut Ping (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

As mentioned in a previous article, Free Ci Sau is a balance between:

  1. Hitting your opponent while not getting hit yourself
  2. Disrupting your opponent’s balance while strengthening your own

3 Common Mistakes I see in Free Ci Sau are:

  1. Arms get too wide
  2. Arms don’t affect your opponent’s balance
  3. Too stiff

1 – arms get too wide

Wide arms Chi Sau/Chi Sao

Problem:

Your arms get too wide and therefore always stay ‘same side’ – i.e. left arm to right arm/right arm to left arm.

It is therefore often difficult to trap 2 hands of theirs with 1 of yours, and so you need to get on the ‘diagonal, outside’ i.e. left arm to left arm/right arm to right arm.

Potential Cues:

  • “Get on the diagonal”
  • “Elbows in front of your body more” (to keep your arms closer)
  • “Punch down the middle” (to make them defend by bringing their hand in)
  • “Come under your own arm” (to get on the diagonal – good if opponent is taller)
  • “Come over your own arm” (to get on the diagonal – good if opponent is shorter)

2 – arms don’t affect your opponent’s balance

Bad stance - Chi Sau/Chi Sao

Problem:

You opponent is too comfortable in their stance and therefore more of a threat.

If they are constantly trying to regain their balance, it is much easier for you to find opportunities to hit them without getting hit yourself.

Potential Cues:

  • “Sink more to disrupt their stance”
  • “Get power from the ground, not from your shoulders”
  • “Elbows low and by your side, connected to the ground”
  • “‘Feel’ their stability via your arms”
  • “Use different 3D Lines” (e.g. diagonal, up, to the left – Left Tiu Sau or Right Zam Sau)

3 – Too stiff

Problem:

Your arms are too stiff when changing which means:

  • Your arms can’t move as quickly
  • You are less sensitive to what your opponent is doing
  • You are more at risk of injury
  • You are more susceptible to losing control of your emotions
  • You tire more quickly as you are using more effort than needed
  • Your strikes will have less forward momentum

Don’t worry if at first you sometimes ‘lose’ in Free Ci Sau whilst staying soft.

It is better than being stiff and winning with force, but never training how to redirect a stronger opponent’s force.

Potential Cues:

  • “Go slower while staying soft” (people often tense up as the speed increases)
  • “Don’t fight force with force” (my Sifu often used to say: “Fong3 Sung1″/放鬆/”Relax” or “Mou5 Zong6″/冇撞/”Don’t clash”)
  • “Think: ‘Softer’ – don’t worry if you feel weak” (you can’t actively ‘do’ softer like you can ‘do’ a move – just think: ‘softer’ and accept that you might feel weak for a while until it becomes a habit)