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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

The 2 Positions of ‘Rolling’ are:

  1. Fuk Sau (straight forearm)/Taan Sau (straight forearm)
  2. Fuk Sau (straight forearm)/Bong Sau (diagonal forearm)
Chi Sao Taan Sau
Fuk Sau/Taan Sau
Chi Sao Bong Sau
Fuk Sau/Bong Sau

NOTES:

  • ‘Rolling’ is a way of starting to spar that:
    1. is fair (excluding arm length differences)
    2. has a touch
    3. has momentum
  • To change between the 2 positions, ‘spring-load’ the angle of both elbows to 90° before going to the new positions at 135°. This will help give you more pressure forward rather than just going in a circle.

The ‘Braces’ Lines

Braces Line

Notes:

  • The ‘braces’ lines are halfway between the 1st centreline (middle line) and the elbow out position (where the arms are in the photo)
  • By keeping our elbows on these lines and therefore in front of the body, we can exert more pressure forwards.

1 – Fuk Sau/Taan Sau

Chi Sao Taan Sau
Chi Sao Taan Sau

Notes:

  • The Taan Sau hand is under the Fuk Sau hand
  • Both forearms face straight forwards
  • They also face diagonally upwards (viewed from the side) in order to cover a larger area
  • Elbows are as low as possible in order to better connect to your stance

2 – Fuk Sau/Bong Sau

Chi Sao Bong Sau
Chi Sao Bong Sau

Notes:

  • The Bong Sau hand is above the Fuk Sau hand
  • The Bong Sau forearm is diagonal like 1-Handed ‘Cross Hands’
  • The 3rd Centreline is in line with the 1st Centreline
  • Elbows are as low as possible (as above)
Wide Chi Sau Students

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)
Chi Sao London

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

The 6 Ci Sau Openings are:

  1. Left hand directly
  2. Left hand coming round their arm
  3. Left hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (over or under your own arm) – i.e. LH to LH
  4. Right hand directly
  5. Right hand coming round their arm
  6. Right hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (over or under your own arm) i.e. RH to RH
Wing Chun Chi Sao
Ci Sau aka Luk Sau Pun Sau

Notes:

  • These openings only refer to moves that go forwards (rather than backwards e.g. Hau Paak Sau)
  • All examples can be reversed if using Left Hand Bong Ci Sau
  • LH = Left Hand
  • RH = Right Hand

1 – left hand directly

Chi Sao London
Left Hand Directly

Example move:

Notes:

  • Be sure to turn them so that their LH is less of a threat

2 – left hand coming round their arm

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Left Hand coming round their Arm

Example move:

Notes:

  • Be aware that they can hit you first as you Hyun under their arm – be quicker than them and follow up with Hau Paak Sau if they do punch

3 – LEFT hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (over or under your own arm)

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Left Hand ‘diagonal, outside’

Example move:

  • ‘Diagonal, outside’ LH Punch (over or under your other arm) – attacking their LH Fuk Sau

Notes:

  • Go over your own arm if:
    • you are both facing each other
    • their arm is low (often when your opponent is shorter than you)
  • Go under your own arm if:
    • they are turned
    • their arm is high (often when your opponent is taller than you)
  • In order to turn them you can first use RH Bong Sau (with Zyun Maa)

4 – Right hand directly

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Right Hand Directly

Example move:

  • LH Gwaat Daa – attacking their RH Taan Sau

Note:

5 – right hand coming round their arm

Right Hand round their Arm

Example move:

  • RH Hyun Sau (anti-clockwise for RH) into RH Zam Daa

Note:

  • Only use this move if their LH is pushing down and their elbow is in – if not they can hit you very easily with their LH

6 – Right hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (OVER OR UNDER YOUR OWN ARM)

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Right Hand ‘diagonal, outside’

Example move:

  • ‘Diagonal, outside’ RH Punch

Note:

  • Go over or under your own arm according to the notes in no.3 above
  • To make him turn you can first use LH Hap (‘same side, outside’)
Sifu James teaching - Wing Chun London

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 Jyut Ping, see here. For a dictionary see here or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

Intro

3 Reasons to train Free Ci Sau in Wing Chun:

  1. Fun – allows students to express the Kung Fu outside of set drills
  2. Effective – trains us to be dominant in a ruleless, close range situation
  3. Safe – low rate of injuries if monitored by a good coach

1 – Fun

Free Chi Sao Wing Chun London

Along with continuous improvement, the most important factor that determines whether someone keeps training over a long period is whether training continues to be fun.

In our school the last half an hour of every class is dedicated to expressing the moves creatively. Here we train to use our moves instinctively against someone who is also adapting in response to us.

Ways to keep Free Ci Sau fun:

  • Handicaps – if one person is getting consistently dominated, introduce handicaps (as in golf) to the more advanced trainee to ‘even up’ the exchange. One example of a handicap would be for the trainee with longer arms to have a wall behind them so they can’t step back and take advantage their longer reach
  • Positive Constraints – ‘rules’ to guide students to focus on different aspects of fighting e.g. one trainee occasionally throws a hook, or both trainees have to use more low strikes
  • Stay Soft (放鬆 Fong3 Sung1) – it can sometimes get frustrating training with tense trainees who are also skilled. Rather than blaming them for something they may have little control over, it’s better to ask if you can both can do Free Ci Sau slower, which will make the exchange more productive for both of you and hence more enjoyable

2 – Effective

Free Chi Sao Wing Chun London

In our view Wing Chun is designed to be most effective at standing, close range – midway between boxing and grappling ranges.

We have moves in Cam Kiu and Biu Zi that work to deal with longer and shorter ranges, however these are used mainly to get us back to our preferred Siu Lam Tao range.

From there we can leverage our training of Free Ci Sau to dominate this range in a ruleless situation.

Just as sparring in boxing is not an accurate recreation of actual fighting, neither is Free Ci Sau in Wing Chun.

The 2 main aspects to focus on during Free Ci Sau are:

  1. Maintaining your balance while destabilising your opponent’s
  2. Hitting them without getting hit yourself – attacking and defending simultaneously

Other important aspects are:

  • Changing instinctively – in order to take advantage of your opponent’s move or pressure
  • Speed
  • Coming up with solutions for a variety of situations – which can’t comprehensively be covered using set drills
  • Staying soft – especially necessary against people stronger than you
  • Dealing with opponents that have different arm lengths, weight and strength

3 – Safe

Free Chi Sao Wing Chun London

We have anecdotally observed a low injury rate compared to other forms of martial arts sparring and as such, Wing Chun is able to cater to a large range of athletic body types. That’s not to say that on an individual level we don’t want to become more athletic, however many styles of martial arts that have as their origin as a competitive sport often require a stronger athletic base before starting.

Also, since Wing Chun is a non-competitive style of martial art you will never be training with someone who could ultimately be your opponent in competition. Therefore students are better able to view Free Ci Sau as a reciprocal learning process with their training partner, rather than always a test of their skill.

Ways to make your Free Ci Sau safer:

  • Train at slower speeds – it’s human nature to go faster if you’re getting dominated. Ideally have a coach or advanced student call ‘reset’ to go back to rolling if things start to speed up or get messy
  • Check your strikes – make sure not to follow through with your strikes. If you are a beginner then keep at slower speeds so that it’s easier to coordinate your moves
  • Check your ego! – even though we are striving to do our best, allowing our emotions to get out of hand when things don’t go our way increases the chances of injuries and confrontations. Be sure to have a coach that cues people to calm down if things get heated, or to change up training partners if there is a conflict of personalities
  • File your nails or wear gloves – if you have long nails, either cut them or wear gloves to reduce the danger of eye injuries
  • Only use elbows with advanced students and at slower speeds
  • Don’t use kicks – without padding and floor mats, stamps to the knee and sweeps are quite risky to use in Free Ci Sau