One aspect of the self-defense martial art of Wing Tsun (Yip Man lineage) that may not be well known are the advanced motor skills learned throughout one’s body in the training. The ability to move two hands at the same time doing different movements is just the start.
Long ago, masters of martial arts recognized that if you are suddenly attacked by a person unknown to you, the old martial arts motto “Know Your Enemy,” has lost some relevance. After all, you do not know this person. How do you deal with this event if you cannot know how he moves, thinks, or his real intent?
No fighting method is ever fool proof but sticky hands (chi sau), immediately allows you to tie into your attacker’s balance, flexibility, strength, direction of power, and taken together, gives you clues as to whether the attacker has skills, all in a millisecond.
The world of martial arts is a mixture of focused students and practitioners and technique collectors. Our Grandmaster Leung Ting warns his students early on about being “technique collectors.” He created his teaching system out of the Wing Chun he was taught and re-named it Wing Tsun. Instead, he says, it is the skills that are important. This theme is a thread throughout the Yip Man lineages. It is stronger in some lineages than others. It even exists in an oft quoted Bruce Lee saying, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
You may attend a variety of martial arts schools these days. In some
towns and cities, the schools are on every block. However, relatively few teach
the higher Chinese skills on a routine basis. Usually very advanced skill-training
goes to only the most senior black-belt students. Most of the intermediate training
involves random sparring and forms. None of those long-range styles teach the
sticky hands handed down to them from Yip Man. In Leung Ting WingTsun®, sticky
hands is an intermediate skill.
Every student of any martial art must learn new movement skills. Some martial arts are athletic in their approach. A student must stretch, strengthen, use calisthenics and aerobic exercise in addition to stances, kicks, long range punching, power exercises, jumping skills, tumbling skills and other athletic skills.
WingTsun™ is less about high kicks, jumping kicks, spin kicks, and bending into low stances, – we have none of those – than it is about being sharply focused on self-defense skills. However the skills developed in WingTsun training are more like sharpening a knife than making a dinner recipe. The creators of WingTsun realized that self-defense cannot happen with a recipe. There is no recipe. A student must be prepared to sharpen his or her weapons. In the case of WingTsun, it is the whole body.
About the Sticky Hands
Most followers of martial arts should know this does not refer to a person with an uncontrollable desire to steal. It refers to a method to stick to an attacker’s arms (or legs) in order to keep track of and ultimately evade, deflect, or dissolve an attack by an adversary. Bruce Lee brought this training drill to the attention of martial arts followers in martial arts magazines in the late 60s and early seventies, having studied from then living Grandmaster Yip Man of ‘Wing Chun.’ Not all the details could be told …
Wing Tsun Chi Sau
Is Wing Tsun chi sau different than in other martial arts that have a sticky hands drill? First, one of the most significant differences between so many other commonly available martial arts and Wing Tsun is the ‘chi sau’ training and its seven basic sections of techniques. The words chi sau translate to the English words sticky hands, which is to say we stick with an opponent’s limbs as he attacks in order to defend ourselves. This applies to the legs as well as the arms. The words ‘chi sau’ translate as ‘sticky hands.’ e common explanation as to why this is important is that you can ‘keep track’ of the attacker’s arms so that you are not hit or grabbed. It goes deeper than that, however.
The Chi Sau Factor
The topic that really grabs a lot of attention in martial arts circles when you say “Wing Chun” or Wing Tsun is chi sau (sticky hands*). These two words describe the one thing that the martial arts public knows only exists in Wing Tsun / Wing Chun.** Chi sau is the reason Wing Tsun dominates the close-range in fights and self-defense. This is so true that there are numerous copy-cats. Some invent their own style with “sticky hands” as a feature. Some try to incorporate it into an existing style. None of them equal the original of course.
WingTsun™ Chi Sau explained
Through my training under my si-fu, Great Grand Master Leung Ting, years of practice with numerous practitioners and personal experience, I have made the following observations about WT chi sau ?? :
WingTsun chi sau is a special practice for intermediate students and above.
Chi sau skill develops with continual regular practice.
Chi sau is not real fighting but an element of reality must always be present in real WT chi sau.
Chi sau skill is not an end in itself but is a skill that is to be transferred to real fighting applications.
Close range effectiveness
Wing Tsun™ can be compared to other arts in a different way. That way is the distance at which we engage our attacker. Wing Tsun is, by design, a very close punching, striking and kicking martial art, much closer than other martial arts commonly taught all over the western world and on every street corner. The repertoire of the close range methods and techniques in Wing Tsun is complete: close-range low kicking and sweeping, knees, elbows, special close-range punching, striking and take downs. In Wing Tsun we believe this is where the fight really exists. Surviving an attack in this circumstance is the most important and where a lot of martial arts programs do not have the right stuff.
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