An interesting article on Chi-Sau

KPM

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Yes, interesting article. He asks some of the same questions that I have asked over the years. Particularly this part:

In my personal experience that is the key to becoming really good at Chi Sao. It is not magic. I donā€™t think it takes any special genetic predisposition. You simply spend lots of hours a week practicing these skills with a really large pool of people, some of whom are a great deal better than you and few of whom are actually kind of scary. Under those conditions, it is amazing how fast you pick this stuff up. But is being good at Chi Sao the same thing as being good at Wing Chun? Or even being a good martial artist?

Yet Chi Sao is a problem. It is not that I no longer do it. I still spend some time on Chi Sao. Yet working with a very small number of people, all junior to you, is not the same. Whatever it is, Chi Sao is not like riding a bike. The sorts of skills taught in sensitivity drills absolutely can be forgotten and will go dormant very fast if not continually used
.

But I found it curious that he didn't touch on the idea of Chi Sau being used as a substitute for sparring...both in Ip Man's Hong Kong school as well as many WIng Chun schools today.

Just my opinion....but nowadays I think training time is better spent putting on the gear and actually sparring rather than spending the many many hours needed to get really good at Chi Sau that he mentions.
 

Xue Sheng

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Actually, although I do not support this, Ip Man students got into a lot of fights out in the street so that is actually better, as far as application goes, than "putting on the gear and actually sparring"
 

Flying Crane

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I guess I always thought chi sao is an exercise meant to develop certain skillls that are useful in fighting. As such, it isn't something you try to get good at for it's own sake. You don't strive to be "good at chi sao." Chi sao is one of the tools in your training schedule that helps you become a skilled fighter.

Sparring can also have a place in your toolbox, but not to become "good at sparring" for its own sake. It likewise should help you become a skilled fighter.
 

DanT

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I think that because Chi Sao is fun, a lot of people spend most of their time working on it instead of working on sparring, pad work, line drills etc. I try to do about 45 min of Chi Sao a day, but I make sure to incorporate as much of my other training as possible. Also because it's fun, people do too much loosey-goosey Chi Sao while talking about what they did that day instead of focusing on what they're doing. That's what I see when I watch a lot of other people at other clubs Chi Sao anyways.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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The training that you try to build arm bridge in a fist flying environment is more important.

How to use your

- Tan Shou to separate your opponent arms away from his head,
- Fu shou to redirect your opponent's head punch and then punch back at his face,
- Bong Shou to redirect your opponent's hook (or hay-maker),

are far more important WC training than just the sticky hand training. In other words, the ability to be able to achieve a clinch in boxing is the training that you should develop.
 

Callen

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You don't strive to be "good at chi sao."
Good post!

The system is mostly about striking the target using chained attacks. Anytime this is done, it is the implementation of a Wing Chun concept. Wing Chun training (including Chi Sau) should support this idea. Training reflexes, bio-mechanics and in recovering from a lost position or mistake etc... is all about the most universally significant act of self-protection.

When developing reflexes through Chi Sau, all of the training should be centered around the concepts and principles of the system. There is no aim at becoming "good" at only certain parts of Wing Chun.
 

KPM

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Actually, although I do not support this, Ip Man students got into a lot of fights out in the street so that is actually better, as far as application goes, than "putting on the gear and actually sparring"

I agree! But that wasn't true for the majority of his students. And who knows, they may have been much more successful at those encounters had they been sparring in class rather than doing Chi Sau! ;)
 

Flying Crane

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I agree! But that wasn't true for the majority of his students. And who knows, they may have been much more successful at those encounters had they been sparring in class rather than doing Chi Sau! ;)
Yeah. Or not. Really, we will never know. ;)
 

KPM

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Yeah. Or not. Really, we will never know. ;)
True! But what little footage I have seen from the "Beimo days" wasn't very impressive and didn't seem to make much use of Chi Sau skills. But of course that was a very limited sampling!
 

KPM

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I guess I always thought chi sao is an exercise meant to develop certain skillls that are useful in fighting. As such, it isn't something you try to get good at for it's own sake. You don't strive to be "good at chi sao." Chi sao is one of the tools in your training schedule that helps you become a skilled fighter.

Sparring can also have a place in your toolbox, but not to become "good at sparring" for its own sake. It likewise should help you become a skilled fighter.


I agree! But I would posit that for people with limited training time, time spent actually sparring is going to be a higher yield use of time than time spent in Chi Sau...... when it comes down to developing a "skilled fighter."
 

Flying Crane

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True! But what little footage I have seen from the "Beimo days" wasn't very impressive and didn't seem to make much use of Chi Sau skills. But of course that was a very limited sampling!
Ok, so based on a small sample then, I guess?
I just don't see much room to conclude that the would have done better if they had spent more time in free sparring vs. chi sau. We will simply never know.

And how do you know that they didn't make use of "chi sau skills"? And how is that even defined? The goal should not be to develop skills in chi sau. The goal should be to use chi sau as a training tool to help build fighting skills.
 

Flying Crane

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I agree! But I would posit that for people with limited training time, time spent actually sparring is going to be a higher yield use of time than time spent in Chi Sau...... when it comes down to developing a "skilled fighter."
Well you can design an experiment and take a control group and an experimental group of brand new students, all with zero prior martial arts experience, and all with exactly the same physical attributes and natural ability, and train each group identically with the exception that one group does chi sau and the other spends an equal time doing free sparring, and make sure their training experience does not cross and is not otherwise contaminated. If you can do that with a large enough sample size in each group and do it long enough to see some real results, then you might have an argument. Otherwise, it is pure conjecture.

If you prefer sparring, then spar. And don't worry about those who do chi sau.
 

KPM

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Well you can design an experiment and take a control group and an experimental group of brand new students, all with zero prior martial arts experience, and all with exactly the same physical attributes and natural ability, and train each group identically with the exception that one group does chi sau and the other spends an equal time doing free sparring, and make sure their training experience does not cross and is not otherwise contaminated. If you can do that with a large enough sample size in each group and do it long enough to see some real results, then you might have an argument. Otherwise, it is pure conjecture.

If you prefer sparring, then spar. And don't worry about those who do chi sau.

Who said I was "worrying about" anyone? I'm just giving my opinion. While the experiment you propose above would be unlikely to be done, something similar could more easily be done by looking at group of newbies in a typical Wing Chun school that emphasizes Chi Sau compared to a group of newbies at a boxing gym that emphasizes sparring and compare them at 6 months. I think most people could predict the outcome. ;)
 

Flying Crane

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Who said I was "worrying about" anyone? I'm just giving my opinion. While the experiment you propose above would be unlikely to be done, something similar could more easily be done by looking at group of newbies in a typical Wing Chun school that emphasizes Chi Sau compared to a group of newbies at a boxing gym that emphasizes sparring and compare them at 6 months. I think most people could predict the outcome. ;)
I don't think it's a valid comparison. ;)
 

geezer

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How far can you take "sticking", flow, and "sensitivity"? And how applicable is it in fighting? It really depends. The guy below is better at sticking than any WC guy I know. Can he fight? I have no idea.

 

KPM

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While Chi Sau certainly has its place, to me this kind of training is more important and more valuable:

 

Thunder Foot

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Chi sau in my opinion can and should be in relation to lut sau. I learned it as a progressive step towards lut sau and understanding options at those ranges; similar to the distances explored in the 3 hand forms. But more importantly chi sau develops the intuitive reflexes that are required to excel in a close range exchange as we know. Similar to Muay Thai, it takes good amounts of time to develop the intuitive sensitivity. My opinion is that a good WC man is proficient at long, mid, & close range and chi sau helps to bridge the gaps.
As for the article's standpoint, I respectively disagree. One who wants the prize will improvise. A judoka or jujutsuka doesn't simply quit their art on account of lack of partners. They find other ways hone their skills that don't involve abandonment. And perhaps that wasn't his intended point, but it's what I gathered. Just $0.02.
 

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I agree! But I would posit that for people with limited training time, time spent actually sparring is going to be a higher yield use of time than time spent in Chi Sau...... when it comes down to developing a "skilled fighter."

I don't think so.

At least for the system I train, these are two different things with two different objectives, and one shouldn't look at one vs the other. Both are equally necessary. Two sides of the VT coin.

Sparring is a stressor like fighting, albeit artificial and able to be calibrated to one's level.

Chi-sau on the other hand is where one constantly returns to drill out errors revealed under stress (in sparring/ fighting).

Of course, if you never pressure test, you will never discover such errors, and then chi-sau just becomes a game without a clear objective, and you will suffer the consequences when faced with real pressure.

But by the same token, if you discard the error correction system, or don't make ample use of it, it's much more difficult and takes far longer to fix things.

If one is doing cross-style sparring / fighting outside of class, class time is actually best spent drilling to correct errors found in pressure testing, meaning most of one's training time with an instructor or training partners at class can be chi-sau / gwo-sau, and sparring once a week or so.

Yes, other styles don't use chi-sau at all and do just fine with sparring drills, but they don't function as VT does, so of course they don't need the same development system.

While Chi Sau certainly has its place, to me this kind of training is more important and more valuable:


So, as I stated above, I don't think it's right to say which is more important or valuable, chi-sau or sparring. Both are of course necessary. One without the other often results in poor VT fighting skills, and slow or no progression.

But what is shown in this clip is someone feeding one or two punches from out of range, then shelling up to allow the defender to unload chain punches while running around in a circle.

This is neither chi-sau nor sparring, neither error correction nor a stressor, and not even a useful drill to me.
 
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