Personal perspective on Chi Sao

futsaowingchun

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The Keys to high level Chi Sao- A personal perspective.

What you see a lot today with people who Practice Chi Sao is this over emphasis being placed on forward pressure and trying to control the center line alone, used with pushing and pulling tactics. The pushing and pulling is used in conjunction to disrupt or break the opponent’s structure. While this is a great skill to have and to train, it can leave one’s Chi Sao skills underdeveloped in the long run.

With this continued type of focus in your Chi Sao, it will usually be who is the bigger, stronger or faster person, not sensitivity or skills deciding the outcome.
If in my opinion wants to improve and move on to higher levels in their Chi Sao they must let go of the idea of trying to control center line or breaking structure. This way of doing Chi Sao is limited and creates what I call a “power struggle to control the center”. Since only one person can occupy the center and as long as two people are trying to control that center this can and often does create a force on force conflict where both parties struggle for dominance for the center.

When this happens both parties tend to use brute force or size to over power their training partner. This type of Chi Sao has very little to do with sensitivity training or skill building. In my opinion, this has very little to with Chi Sao at all.

So how does one let go and train higher levels in their Chi Sao?

There are several components both structurally and tactically. First, do not use forward pressure to over power your opponent, instead use forward intent. Use your mind to guide your intent and your sensitivity to guide your actions. Seek the center but don’t try to control it physically by force. If your opponent wants to control the center, let him. Let him believe he is in control when in fact he’s not. He can only win if your fight with him. When he strikes at that moment you can hit him or retake the center. Also, when the opponent makes a mistake, capture the center but don’t force it. Allow him to make the mistake. This way it will avoid this force on force power struggle which you’re trying not to do. Structurally, one must relax all the joints in the body, especially the shoulder. Do not lock any joints weather for the use of structure or power generation. Every part must be moving and flowing. Like water running down stream, when it hits an obstruction it simply flows around it. It does not force itself on the rock but yields to it. Use this as a guideline to improve on your chi sao..
 

mograph

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I sense a yin-yang influence!

Not that there's anything wrong with that ... ;)
 

Kung Fu Wang

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You have to learn "force against force" before you can learn "borrowing force". How long should you stay in the "force against force" training stage depends on individual.
 

wckf92

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You have to learn "force against force" before you can learn "borrowing force". How long should you stay in the "force against force" training stage depends on individual.

...and keep in mind that "force against force" is highly relative... :D
 

Marnetmar

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Hawkins Cheung said:
Everyone also tried to please the seniors so they would teach us more tricks to beat up the guy you didn’t like or competed with. So students grouped together and created competition with another group. Each group thought it could beat the other. In my opinion, this is how wing chun politics began. Being 100-105 pounds, I had a hard time against opponents bigger than me. During this time I also tried to collect as many new tricks to beat my opponents. Once the opponent knew that trick, you had to find new tricks. When your opponent knew all your tricks, being a small guy, you were in trouble. The old saying of the, “Same game, same way, the bigger guy always wins” applies to every physical sport.

Later, tricks became useless. I always got pushed out because of my limited power when it came to advanced sticking hands practice. I was very frustrated because the opponents knew my tricks and they were stronger than me. If I threw a punch, it was nothing to them; they could take the blow and throw a punch right back. I learned that sticking hands was very different from distance fighting. In distance fighting a lightweight could move faster than a heavyweight. My dilemma was that I was learning wing chun, not a system that emphasized distance fighting.

Yip Man’s Hands

I always got pushed out when I practiced chi sao with my bigger seniors. Everyone who learned wing chun always wanted to prove that they were better than the others. Most of the practitioners concentrated on the offensive side of sticking hands. They tried to learn how to first hit the Opponent. The practice became a sport fighting game. Whoever was stronger would win. Egos ran wild and every one wanted to be the best. There is a wing chun saying, “Don’t speak of who is senior or junior. The one who attains the skill first is the senior.” It meant that, “We don’t have seniors,” because we were better than the seniors. In wing chun we say we don’t have any seniors because we strove to become better than the seniors and even better than the founder. If you look at your art this way, you will certainly improve.
During that period, I had a hard time. I thought of quitting a few times, until I finally went to the old man (grandmaster Yip Man). He always told me, “Relax! Relax! Don’t get excited!” But whenever I practiced chi sao with someone, it was hard to relax, especially when I got hit. I became angry when struck. I wanted to kill my opponent. The sticking hands game became a fight, with both parties getting hurt. The question was who got hurt more. Because I was smaller, I was the one who usually hurt more.

When I saw Yip Man stick hands with others, he was very relaxed and talked to his partner. Sometimes he threw his partner out without having to hit him. When I stuck hands with Yip Man, I always felt my balance controlled by him when I attempted to strike. I was always off balance, with my toes or heels off the ground! I felt my hands rebound when I tried to strike him. It appeared as if Yip Man used my force to hit me. His movement was so slight, it seemed he didn’t do anything, not even extend his hand! When I was thrown back, it was very comfortable, not violent, yet I still could not see his techniques. When I asked him how he did it, he simply said’ “Like this!” as he demonstrated his extension of his hands, which was the same as practice. I saw Yip Man do this to other students, even the seniors. He never landed a blow on his students, but he would put a student in an awkward position and make the fellow students laugh at the sight. He was the funniest old man. I never once saw Yip Man take a step backward during chi sao.

I thought to myself, this old man was my size and weight, how could he control his students so easily? So every time he played chi sao with a student, I kept watching his perfect wing chun body structure. Whenever he took a step forward, his opponent was thrown back. No matter how big the student was, Yip Man never exhibited a killing attitude. The students would swing his hands, and Yip Man would smile and merely control the movements.

I really felt hopeless, so I asked sifu what should I do to further myself. He told me, “Why do you always want to be the same as the others? You know it won’t work, why don’t you change? Do the form more, don’t even play sticking hands for a while. Do the form slower.” I was confused; I wanted to learn wing chun to fight. I wanted new ways and new techniques. After all these years, Yip Man’s advice were these few words. I felt disappointed, yet I couldn’t argue with him. I had the choice to either drop out or do what he said. So I reviewed all the forms with him and he corrected them during private lessons. I did stick hands with him slowly. He just coached me and guided my hands like a baby sitter. In this manner, I learned the softer, defensive side of wing chun.

Who could know Yip Man’s high skill? Yip Man could neutralize his opponent’s force or interrupt his opponent’s motion so that it never landed. If you take an analogy of a big car facing a small car, you can see that the driver of the small car doesn’t have much of a chance. The small car driver has to shut off the engine or interrupt the shift to first gear of the big-car driver. obviously, the big car can just run over a small car and destroy it. The question is how big is your car, and compared with whom?

A larger opponent

When Yip Man faced a larger opponent, his skill was so high that he would shut off his opponent’s engine or never let it start. When you’re old, you have to adapt this way to survive. With my small size, I had to learn this method. I had to be faster than my opponent’s fist or elbow’s extension. I had to see my opponent’s telegraphic body move or see his mind’s intent. Whether in close-range or distance fighting. I have to interrupt my opponent’s engine start or guide his intention elsewhere. Bruce didn’t learn this high level of skill. By Hong Kong standards, he was a big car.

Everyone in wing chun has his opinion or politics. The politics arise when each speaks of the “best” method of entry or attack. The “best entry” or “best attack” is a product which a wing chun exponent chooses to buy. To a wing chun man, every attack is considered an “asking hand.” My fist is a question posed to you. If someone attacks and you solve the problem before it is initiated, how much politics are involved? Politics come from partiality, which is why I say that when wing chun is trained to a high level, there are no techniques. Who realized Yip Man’s skill? All my training brothers respected Yip Man because he never hurt them, nor were they skillful enough to hurt him. Yip Man’s skill in the 1950s was the epitome of sensitivity; he could immediately read his opponent’s intention.

Wing chun is a mental, rather than physical martial art. The system was founded by a lady, and as a result, the art requires mental strategy and physical skill and timing. Wing chun requires that the mental be ahead of the physical. It is a system to develop skill, not a style. I’m not the best, but I know where I stand in this art.

A good wing chun man should practice chi sao all the time. You can tell what sort of individuals you are dealing with, his character, his advantages or disadvantages. You can look at a fighter’s body and also determine if he is a boxer, kicker or wrestler through his muscle condition and by the characteristics of his movement. A fighter’s behavior also determines what sort of fighter you are facing. Of course, this is not 100 percent. When betting on a horse race, an experienced gambler will try to gather all the information he can get on a horse. He will look at a horse and check his statistics to make an intelligent decision. You learn to minimize your risk. This is what chi sao teaches you.

When you do chi sao, you should not attack first, but rather try to collect as much information as you can on your opponent. Many wing chun practitioners want to attack first without gathering information. Attacking first is to give your opponent information on yourself. Sun Tzu advised us, “Know yourself, know your opponent, in 100 battles, a 100 victories.” The forms of wing chun are for you to know yourself; chi sao is the way to knowing others.
 

geezer

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You have to learn "force against force" before you can learn "borrowing force". How long should you stay in the "force against force" training stage depends on individual.

Of course you begin with force against force since, at the beginning, that's all you have. However, in our lineage we say, "First you have to give up your own force, then get rid of your opponent's force, after that you learn to borrow his force, and finally, add back your own force". Another way to describe giving up your force is "investing in loss".
 

Jake104

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The Keys to high level Chi Sao- A personal perspective.

What you see a lot today with people who Practice Chi Sao is this over emphasis being placed on forward pressure and trying to control the center line alone, used with pushing and pulling tactics. The pushing and pulling is used in conjunction to disrupt or break the opponent’s structure. While this is a great skill to have and to train, it can leave one’s Chi Sao skills underdeveloped in the long run.

With this continued type of focus in your Chi Sao, it will usually be who is the bigger, stronger or faster person, not sensitivity or skills deciding the outcome.
If in my opinion wants to improve and move on to higher levels in their Chi Sao they must let go of the idea of trying to control center line or breaking structure. This way of doing Chi Sao is limited and creates what I call a “power struggle to control the center”. Since only one person can occupy the center and as long as two people are trying to control that center this can and often does create a force on force conflict where both parties struggle for dominance for the center.

When this happens both parties tend to use brute force or size to over power their training partner. This type of Chi Sao has very little to do with sensitivity training or skill building. In my opinion, this has very little to with Chi Sao at all.

So how does one let go and train higher levels in their Chi Sao?

There are several components both structurally and tactically. First, do not use forward pressure to over power your opponent, instead use forward intent. Use your mind to guide your intent and your sensitivity to guide your actions. Seek the center but don’t try to control it physically by force. If your opponent wants to control the center, let him. Let him believe he is in control when in fact he’s not. He can only win if your fight with him. When he strikes at that moment you can hit him or retake the center. Also, when the opponent makes a mistake, capture the center but don’t force it. Allow him to make the mistake. This way it will avoid this force on force power struggle which you’re trying not to do. Structurally, one must relax all the joints in the body, especially the shoulder. Do not lock any joints weather for the use of structure or power generation. Every part must be moving and flowing. Like water running down stream, when it hits an obstruction it simply flows around it. It does not force itself on the rock but yields to it. Use this as a guideline to improve on your chi sao..
I like the foward intent vs foward pressure part. Forward intend can be soft or even invisible like air. It is very mental.
 

Wing Chun Auckland

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Sorry for bring an older thread back from the dead.

I personally disagree with most of these perspectives. Forward pressure, to me, is where the real depth of learning takes place. This is the core development. I personally don't see much depth of value in the other skills obtained from chi sao. Pressure is where it is at. It's the base upon which everything else is possible.


"What you see a lot today with people who Practice Chi Sao is this over emphasis being placed on forward pressure and trying to control the center line alone, used with pushing and pulling tactics."

- It sounds like you think this is some sort of growing trend. I think schools/lineages that use forward pressure, always have. And those that dont, dont. WSL, CST, CSL, HKM etc. have always used forward pressure.

"With this continued type of focus in your Chi Sao, it will usually be who is the bigger, stronger or faster person, not sensitivity or skills deciding the outcome."
- This is completely incorrect and for lots of reasons:
1. First of all, what would be the point in learning a skill that only the big and strong are going to be good at? Lol! This is what you think other wing chun schools rely on in their wing chun when they roll with forward pressure? I roll with bigger stronger people all the time using less muscular tension than they do and can easily overcome them.
2. The dynamics of applying force against another person's force is very different when both people are standing. It's not an arm wrestle where the strongest person wins. Allignment, stance and the ability to source force from a lower center of gravity changes everything. For example, there is a drill I like to practice called standing push out. Both people stand with legs straight (not bent). One person pushes their palms against the palms of a partner to try and push their arms back. You dont move from your standing position. Someone good at this can effortlessly push a bigger stronger person back. I can easily do this against way bigger stronger people all with my arms relaxed. When they try to push back, I can direct their force into my feet so that they are effectively pushing against the ground. Now this is all done with straight locked legs. When you are able to drop your stance, use hips etc. there's a whole other dimensions and dynamics that you can draw from to overcome pressure from a partner.
3. With this continued type of chi sao, you will learn how to effectively use shapes and force vectors. You will learn which shapes are strong and how to take advantage of a partners weaker shapes. I actually came from a wing chun school that emphasized no forward pressure. What was unfortunate with them and other non-forward pressure wing chun schools I have met (they seem to be the majority by the way) was all the movements have no ability to issue or receive force. When I chi sao with these guys, they dont have strong enough structures to deal with me so they end up compensating by moving twice as fast to go around. I know this first hand also because when I came from my first wing chun school, I was doing the same thing to compensate for the pressure that I couldn't deal with. I also had to step and move a lot more. Moving faster and moving more is NOT being more efficient.
4. From pressurized chi sao you actually learn how to relax the limbs more than people who dont do this type of chi sao. Its is strange but true. Dont mistake pressure or force with using strength. It is being relaxed and allowing joints to rotate freely that allows you to be more powerful and break structure, hold great forces or roll force off.
5. Apart from shapes you start to learn how to use thought and mental models to make your structure and power even stronger. THis is one the most amazing things about wing chun. When you start to reach this level, people will have trouble controlling your structures even when you are in structurally inferior positions.


"If in my opinion wants to improve and move on to higher levels in their Chi Sao they must let go of the idea of trying to control center line or breaking structure. This way of doing Chi Sao is limited and creates what I call a “power struggle to control the center”. Since only one person can occupy the center and as long as two people are trying to control that center this can and often does create a force on force conflict where both parties struggle for dominance for the center."
- This sort of thing might happen with two beginners. But with time, they are going to learn smarter and more sophisticated ways to deal with force. From my observations of two advanced people rolling of a similar level, there is not really a power struggle going on. Both will be relaxed. Each person will know that the more they try to invest strength or power, the other person will be able to take advantage of them.

"When this happens both parties tend to use brute force or size to over power their training partner. This type of Chi Sao has very little to do with sensitivity training or skill building. In my opinion, this has very little to with Chi Sao at all."
- No, they dont use brute force. Real depth in sensitivity is not so much sensing what your partner will do and take advantage of it by moving in some way to get a hit in. IMO, real depth in sensitivity is developed from the micro adjustments to pressure you feel. It's where you feel the pressure in the body. It's what you do with your spine, your feet etc. It's letting go of tension. It's finding someone's center (through force - not muscular tension). When you connect to a partner in an exercise like chi sao, it's the pressure that connects you. This is the magic. This allows me to take your force inside me as well as feel where I can control your balance. With pressure, when the arms connect it's almost like being plugged in. Without pressure you are both just standing there. Yeah your hands might be touching but they may as well not be for all the good its going to do you. Im confused as to exactly what sort of sensitivity you think you can gain from this.


"So how does one let go and train higher levels in their Chi Sao?
There are several components both structurally and tactically. First, do not use forward pressure to over power your opponent, instead use forward intent. Use your mind to guide your intent and your sensitivity to guide your actions. Seek the center but don’t try to control it physically by force. If your opponent wants to control the center, let him. Let him believe he is in control when in fact he’s not. He can only win if your fight with him. When he strikes at that moment you can hit him or retake the center. Also, when the opponent makes a mistake, capture the center but don’t force it. Allow him to make the mistake. This way it will avoid this force on force power struggle which you’re trying not to do. Structurally, one must relax all the joints in the body, especially the shoulder. Do not lock any joints weather for the use of structure or power generation. Every part must be moving and flowing. Like water running down stream, when it hits an obstruction it simply flows around it. It does not force itself on the rock but yields to it. Use this as a guideline to improve on your chi sao.."

- There's a lot in there but I will pick one point for now cause I've already bored anyone whose bothered to read this. If I control the line of attack, I have the best most direct and structurally superior line to a strike. The only way you can beat that is to move a lot faster than me and go around.
 

wckf92

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Sorry for bring an older thread back from the dead.

I personally disagree with most of these perspectives. Forward pressure, to me, is where the real depth of learning takes place. This is the core development. I personally don't see much depth of value in the other skills obtained from chi sao. Pressure is where it is at. It's the base upon which everything else is possible.


"What you see a lot today with people who Practice Chi Sao is this over emphasis being placed on forward pressure and trying to control the center line alone, used with pushing and pulling tactics."

- It sounds like you think this is some sort of growing trend. I think schools/lineages that use forward pressure, always have. And those that dont, dont. WSL, CST, CSL, HKM etc. have always used forward pressure.

"With this continued type of focus in your Chi Sao, it will usually be who is the bigger, stronger or faster person, not sensitivity or skills deciding the outcome."
- This is completely incorrect and for lots of reasons:
1. First of all, what would be the point in learning a skill that only the big and strong are going to be good at? Lol! This is what you think other wing chun schools rely on in their wing chun when they roll with forward pressure? I roll with bigger stronger people all the time using less muscular tension than they do and can easily overcome them.
2. The dynamics of applying force against another person's force is very different when both people are standing. It's not an arm wrestle where the strongest person wins. Allignment, stance and the ability to source force from a lower center of gravity changes everything. For example, there is a drill I like to practice called standing push out. Both people stand with legs straight (not bent). One person pushes their palms against the palms of a partner to try and push their arms back. You dont move from your standing position. Someone good at this can effortlessly push a bigger stronger person back. I can easily do this against way bigger stronger people all with my arms relaxed. When they try to push back, I can direct their force into my feet so that they are effectively pushing against the ground. Now this is all done with straight locked legs. When you are able to drop your stance, use hips etc. there's a whole other dimensions and dynamics that you can draw from to overcome pressure from a partner.
3. With this continued type of chi sao, you will learn how to effectively use shapes and force vectors. You will learn which shapes are strong and how to take advantage of a partners weaker shapes. I actually came from a wing chun school that emphasized no forward pressure. What was unfortunate with them and other non-forward pressure wing chun schools I have met (they seem to be the majority by the way) was all the movements have no ability to issue or receive force. When I chi sao with these guys, they dont have strong enough structures to deal with me so they end up compensating by moving twice as fast to go around. I know this first hand also because when I came from my first wing chun school, I was doing the same thing to compensate for the pressure that I couldn't deal with. I also had to step and move a lot more. Moving faster and moving more is NOT being more efficient.
4. From pressurized chi sao you actually learn how to relax the limbs more than people who dont do this type of chi sao. Its is strange but true. Dont mistake pressure or force with using strength. It is being relaxed and allowing joints to rotate freely that allows you to be more powerful and break structure, hold great forces or roll force off.
5. Apart from shapes you start to learn how to use thought and mental models to make your structure and power even stronger. THis is one the most amazing things about wing chun. When you start to reach this level, people will have trouble controlling your structures even when you are in structurally inferior positions.


"If in my opinion wants to improve and move on to higher levels in their Chi Sao they must let go of the idea of trying to control center line or breaking structure. This way of doing Chi Sao is limited and creates what I call a “power struggle to control the center”. Since only one person can occupy the center and as long as two people are trying to control that center this can and often does create a force on force conflict where both parties struggle for dominance for the center."
- This sort of thing might happen with two beginners. But with time, they are going to learn smarter and more sophisticated ways to deal with force. From my observations of two advanced people rolling of a similar level, there is not really a power struggle going on. Both will be relaxed. Each person will know that the more they try to invest strength or power, the other person will be able to take advantage of them.

"When this happens both parties tend to use brute force or size to over power their training partner. This type of Chi Sao has very little to do with sensitivity training or skill building. In my opinion, this has very little to with Chi Sao at all."
- No, they dont use brute force. Real depth in sensitivity is not so much sensing what your partner will do and take advantage of it by moving in some way to get a hit in. IMO, real depth in sensitivity is developed from the micro adjustments to pressure you feel. It's where you feel the pressure in the body. It's what you do with your spine, your feet etc. It's letting go of tension. It's finding someone's center (through force - not muscular tension). When you connect to a partner in an exercise like chi sao, it's the pressure that connects you. This is the magic. This allows me to take your force inside me as well as feel where I can control your balance. With pressure, when the arms connect it's almost like being plugged in. Without pressure you are both just standing there. Yeah your hands might be touching but they may as well not be for all the good its going to do you. Im confused as to exactly what sort of sensitivity you think you can gain from this.


"So how does one let go and train higher levels in their Chi Sao?
There are several components both structurally and tactically. First, do not use forward pressure to over power your opponent, instead use forward intent. Use your mind to guide your intent and your sensitivity to guide your actions. Seek the center but don’t try to control it physically by force. If your opponent wants to control the center, let him. Let him believe he is in control when in fact he’s not. He can only win if your fight with him. When he strikes at that moment you can hit him or retake the center. Also, when the opponent makes a mistake, capture the center but don’t force it. Allow him to make the mistake. This way it will avoid this force on force power struggle which you’re trying not to do. Structurally, one must relax all the joints in the body, especially the shoulder. Do not lock any joints weather for the use of structure or power generation. Every part must be moving and flowing. Like water running down stream, when it hits an obstruction it simply flows around it. It does not force itself on the rock but yields to it. Use this as a guideline to improve on your chi sao.."

- There's a lot in there but I will pick one point for now cause I've already bored anyone whose bothered to read this. If I control the line of attack, I have the best most direct and structurally superior line to a strike. The only way you can beat that is to move a lot faster than me and go around.

A good post.
 
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