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.

If an attacker’s arm brushes up against your arm in the process of his punch, kick or grab, the defender is trained to cling to the arm in a balance between keeping a small amount of pressure going forward and that of avoiding a ‘hard’ kind of pressure. A Wing Tsun practitioner practices to keep his presence on the attacker’s arm from being noticeable during the tiny fraction of a second of an attack.

The training gets more challenging as one’s skill increases. The tactile skills could be compared with a video game control stick and pressure on the ‘kill’ buttons. In the case of Wing Tsun, though it requires one’s whole body to be coordinated in the defense and counter attack in self-defense. In Leung Ting WingTsun®, the way a practitioner uses footwork is the just as important, in a way, more important, as the skill being used with the hands. As a defender is pushed, grabbed, or avoiding another kind of attack, a Wing Tsun defender must move well in coordination with the tactile skills of chi sau. Without it, the hands are ineffective.

Carrying this deeper still, the skill of ‘sticky hands’ allows a real-time response to attack because a defender can feel movement through the arms almost before the attacker realizes that he himself has decided to move against his victim!

– Sifu Keith Sonnenberg