Chi-Sao / Sticky Hands ????????

Brother John

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I've heard a great deal about the Chi-Sao drill, as far as how it's very good for developing rythm/timing and sensitivity... But I have no concept of how it functions.
Anyone care to fill me in?
I've seen pictures of it, but that's WAY limited on explanation. Seeing two people with their forearms interweaving tells me nothing.
Thanks
Your Brother
John
 

Phil Elmore

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There are different "kinds" of chi sau. I started with single hand chi sau, for example, which followed a very set pattern of movements: One student holds his hand in tan sau, the "dispersing hand." Another holds his same-side hand and arm in fuk sau, the "hooking" or "subduing" hand. The student holding a tan sau goes to execute a palm strike; the student holding fuk sau turns the "hooking hand" into a jut sau, the "jerking hand." He then delivers a vertical punch and the other student uses bong sau, the "wing arm," to stop the punch from striking him in the head. Over and over and over.

As we progressed we learned to "run" -- that is, to circle around tightly and strike when the other student exerted pressure that he or she should not be exerting while performing chi sau. In this way, sensitivity to the opponent's movements -- his "energy" directed toward you, which I view metaphorically only -- is developed.

More recently I practiced cross-arm chi sau, which starts out from a position that reminds me of the Bruce Lee and John Saxon fight scenes during the competition bouts in Enter the Dragon. The goal of each student is to deliver a light strike from that position while preventing the other student from doing the same, using a variety of hand techniques -- lop sau to pull the other student's hand out of the way while delivering a strike, for example. Cross-arm chi sau feels a lot more like actually sparring someone, whereas the simpler single-arm chi sau really bored me at first.
 
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Arithon

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The chi sao I've been taught starts out like this. Both people stand facing front on to each other. Each has both hands out in front with the palms facing down. One person has their wrists resting on top and inside the other's wrists. The hands then circle slowly in the horizontal plain.
The person with their hands underneath tries to touch their partner's hips while the partner with their hands on top is aiming for the the shoulders.
In both cases the defense is to block the attacking hands outwards slightly so they cannot touch your hips/shoulders.
Once this is mastered then you can have one hand on top, on the bottom. You can start contering an attack with an attack instead of a block.
The only real rule in the end is that you can't break contact with your partner.
 

Cthulhu

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The thing is, it's possible to give a description of what it is, but you need to practice with a knowledgable partner to actually get an understanding of what chi sao is.

Cthulhu
 
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Kirk

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Originally posted by Cthulhu
The thing is, it's possible to give a description of what it is, but you need to practice with a knowledgable partner to actually get an understanding of what chi sao is.

Cthulhu

I disagree. In order to learn chi sao, you need a
knowlegeable partner, but I think you'd only need to see it done,
with a decent explaination (by a knowledgeable practitioner) to
get an underderstanding of what it is.
 

Danny T

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As most who see Chi-Sao and even many who have actually done Chi Sao have already said it is a sensitivity exercise. I agree with that but the problem as I see it that really doesnt explain much. Chi Sao is an exercise use to help the practitioners learn:

Control of pressure, Drawing; this is used to diminish the opponents strength to the point where you are stronger. By drawing his arms out from his body he becomes weaker and vulnerable to losing his structure. You control his energy as you let your body fade away from him. This draws his arms and his center of gravity and you can then redirect his movement. Chi Sao practice helps train the moving of the entire structure. You learn to feel the pressure and to fade or to turn the structure to redirect the opponents energy. Chi Sao helps train the short lever principles where you use bone, joint and tendon strength opposed to muscle.

The short lever principles are directed from the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists. This is all performed by the turning of the body as a unit by the switching of the feet. This will provide you with incredible power and mechanical strength. The training of Chi Sao helps reinforce what is taught in Sil Lum Tao and Chum Kil. The proper use of body structure, mechanical advantages, sensitivity, and applying energies all the while keeping control of your center of gravity and manipulating the opponents under the dynamics of movement created by your opponent.

A key factor in Chi Sao training is in your structure. Pressure is exerted from the body structure and not through the arms. In this way, the arms can be firm without being tense, relaxed without being flimsy. By not causing muscle contraction in the arms you remove any rebound. You also learn not to grow tense under the opponents pressure. In addition to proper body structure, you must also know proper tool structure and how to turn on and off certain muscles and joints. All of this (and many other things) is crucial. The training of Chi Sao helps train the body to release tension within the body and arms thereby not allowing the opponent to have a handle to move or control your structure. By this I mean you learn to keep your limbs stiff but soft and supple so that if the opponent were to lop (grab) your arm there would be no stiffness in the arm to hold on to. Your arm would suddenly become as soft and flexible as a piece of twine or string.

Chi Sao teaches how to maintain the facing principle. This helps assure that both arms and hands would be able to use equally.

Immovable Elbow Principle. The elbow must be maintained on or close to your centerline, and should never be positioned less than one fist length from your body. If your elbow gives, your structure is destroyed.

Structure Softening. Soften and concave the chest so that you are all shoulders, back, and forearms. This allows structural strength and firmer grounding while reducing tension in the body. It keeps your mid-body at further reach from your opponent while, at the same time, naturally extending your reach to him. The soft curvature of the body is used for setting up gaps that you may need for exercising powerful mechanical advantages in the use of your tools. Most important, it helps to remove the unnecessary tension in your own body while creating a tension and shock in your opponent.

Locking down of the shoulder. Be aware that to raise it your structure will be weakened. This is not only important while jamming and trapping, but even so in striking. Lock down the shoulders so that your structure will be powerfully unitized, rather than weakly disjointed. Locking down the shoulder does not mean tightening up the muscles. It simply means sealing it snugly into the joint so that the arm and body are connected. By locking down the shoulder you actually reduce muscle tension.

Ball Principle. If you were to roll around on a big ball, you would be rolling on multiple planes of movement. You can go under, over, around on either side and in either direction, or at any one of 360 degrees of direction, or push straight through. Learn to use this to your mechanical advantages. For instance, you might lift or push down the opponents arms or elbows to break down and move his structure, as found in the Sil Lum Tao form.

Hip Action. The hip is used similar to a bow, flexing, building, and releasing tension. A fundamental power source provided by the proper structure. Its the kind of thing that you dont see and most dont know about but be assured its there!

Tactile Sensitivity. This is what most say Chi Sao is all about. The only way to learn this correctly is to learn it from a good instructor, hands on. Learn to became one with the opponent. Feel the opponent and learn to blend your center of gravity with theirs. Tactile sensitivity also teaches how to use the full arm as a tool. Often times you will be in a position to trap or jam down your opponent by using your upper forearm while, at the same instant, freeing both of your hands. This is the Third Hand Principle.

Needless to say, this list does not include all of the principles and mechanics reinforced by good Chi Sao training such as rooting, slipping, poling, vectoring, plyometrics, joint selection, jing, simplicity, and much more. It is really simple if you understand all the complexity of details. Unfortunately most do not.
That is why to learn chi sao correctly you must learn it from someone who is very, very good. Even then, keep in mind that not everyone teaches it the same. For the most part, the tools and the rolling are pretty much the same, but the details often differ as well as the strategy. Some practitioners do it very mechanically and outstretched, while others train it close and heavy. Very few have the ability to go from one move into the next without becoming stuck and having to start over. If you find an instructor who can do this, then learn from them.
Good luck on your training

Danny T
 

brothershaw

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To me chi sau is about relaxation, structure, positioning and sensitivity. At this point my chi sau is niot good, yet from practicing with people better than me I know what it is supposed to be like eventually. What the other posters have said so far sounds more or less correct. I doubt somebody who doesnt practice wing chun or some other close combat style would benefit too much from chi sau because they might not be comfortable in that fighting range, their movements might be bigger or more muscle oriented. It might also be more time consuming and troublesome to learn than its worth if you arent a wing chun person as opposed to other ideas or aspects of wing chun.
 
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Brother John

Brother John

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Thank you all for a very good explanation.
As with many of our drills in the martial arts, words don't transmit action, only action transmits action... but I apreciate your information and insights.
It's good to have such insightful brothers!
Your Brother
John
 
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dogma173

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Chi Sao is an exercise that develops reflexes by contact. In a fight chi sao con help you do more effective blocks. It will help you do paks and laps. In training, you would start with one hand chi sao and then move on to two handed chi sao. Masters can demonstrate chi sao blind-folded.






P.S. I'm not a white belt. Have trained in wing chun for 6 years.
 

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