Counter To Lap Sau.

yak sao

Senior Master
Aug 18, 2008
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Head like glass doesn't mean your head is fragile, like glass. It means your head is clear like glass and there is nothing in it for your opponent to see. Meaning, there is no thought or pre-determined idea of what you are going to do. Your thoughts and intentions cannot be seen because you have none. Your mind is empty of any and all predetermined technique and you flow with what comes to you from your opponent.

We are taught that mind set as well, but I have never thought of it in relation to the head is glass. Nice.


Purple Belt
Nov 29, 2016
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Austin, TX
Been working on Lap Sau a fair bit lately , got a left shoulder thats not as relaxed and as flexible as the other shoulder , pisses me off something chronic.

Anyhow the other day I was working on counters to Lap Sau with a student and we worked on one from the Bong Sau , but first a few points on Lap Sau.

Generally when people first learn the Lap Sau exercise , when they feel under threat or want to get through , they start going faster and faster , and then the other guy starts going faster and faster.

It becomes a Lap Sau race to see who's got the greater hand speed and who's punch can finally connect , thats a mugs game , there is always going to be someone faster than you .

Of course if you are using it for the specific purpose of improving your hand speed go for it.

But I prefer to go at a moderate pace making sure I'm relaxed as can be in the shoulders so that when he latches my punch down the arm just pivots in the shoulder socket and down into low Bong Sau and he's got nothing to work with.

I also make sure I bring my elbow straight back in for the return punch after the low Bong Sau has done its job of redirecting his latch.

This is where people will get lazy as they go faster instead of bringing the elbow in for the punch and using it to effect his structure , they do some sort of half arsed centerline back fist punch with the elbow out.

Now whilst that might of worked fine for Bruce Lee , it is only a stinging type of blow using the mass of the forearm , whereas bringing the elbow in and driving from the elbow uses the whole mass of the arm and has penetrating force.

I've got a student who does some F.M.A stuff as well and it took a while to get him out of the habit of using the backfist in Lap Sau.

You also want to make sure you are timing your Wu Sau correctly as it comes up to redirect his punch , no clashing , drive it up from the elbow and make sure your wrist is on the centerline.

After you redirect with Wu Sau latch his punching arm down , sinking your arm from the elbow , don't use the forearm , keep the angle in your arm.
Of course with all this you will have your forward force directed at his centerline , that is a given.

keep your Bong Sau arm pivoting on his forearm so it is always in contact , and keep your Wu Sau parallel with your Bong Sau so they both help each other to redirect the force.

Now the counter I use is pretty simple , after he latches my punching arm down and I am in low Bong Sau , I collapse my Bong Sau into an elbow strike keeping contact and pivoting my arm over his arm around the contact point trapping it , and then elbow striking him in the sternum.

Step forward with the opposite leg you are elbow striking on , you will have more power and its less likely he will be able to redirect you.

Once he feels his structure being collapsed he will attempt to punch with his spare hand as his other is trapped by your elbow.

To counter this , as you move in make sure your Wu Sau is covering your face and you should intercept his attempted punch on the inside of his wrist.

So it doesn't matter how fast he is we are jamming him up and crushing his structure.
Thank you for sharing. If I'm reading this correctly, I think we practice this very similarly. We call it the "bong lop drill" but other variants/lineages have different names. Here's a quick video of me shadowing it.

P.S. Yes, my shirt is for an all girls camp. It's my wife's but it fits me better and when our daughter goes there it'll be less awkward.

~ Alan


Brown Belt
Jun 19, 2016
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Sydney AUS
Shoulder strike is an excellent way to enter into grappling range and get underhooks.


Senior Master
Sep 2, 2013
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Troy NY
For a minute there I thought Mook Jong Man had returned. Then I realized this thread was started in 2010!

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Sep 26, 2012
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Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
If it is a cross arm grab and he does the same thing , then I go with his force , bring up my spare hand into Wu Sau to protect my face and let my grabbed arm collapse into a elbow strike , hitting him in the chest.
You should not go 100% with his force. If your opponent tries to pull you toward the northwest direction, you should move toward the northeast direction. The most important is to cut in your foot in front of him to prevent him from moving behind you.