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How to Do Chi Sau aka Sticking Hands in Wing Chun

Learn how to do the Wing Chun fighting strategy Chi Sau aka Sticking Hands from Sifu Alex Richter in this Howcast martial arts video.


It's very important to understand that chi sau is just one training method within Wing Chun. A lot of very traditional Wing Chun people, they spend, in my opinion, a little bit too much time practicing just chi sau. You have to realize that chi sau, or sticking hands, is actually only one part of our overall game or overall strategy in fighting. Chi sau allows us to learn how to use the movements from the forms in a reflexive action kind of way rather than just doing it by rote memorization. We want to be able to adapt our techniques according to our opponent, and we do this by feeling. Of course, chi sau is the training method for that. It's very important not to get so sucked into chi sau that you forget the overall purpose of Wing Chun, which is to be able to defend yourself or to be able to fight.

If you only practice chi sau, then you're going to get really, really good at chi sau. You're going to have really fantastic reactions when you're in close, but in fact, your timing at distance or when people are coming at you with kicks and punches or trying to wrestle you or tackle you to the floor are not always going to be trained if you're only doing chi sau. That's one thing, is to realize that chi sau is not the only thing we do in Wing Chun.

The second thing, when you're practicing chi sau, remember, it's just a game. It's just a training method. A lot of people, when they practice and they hit each other, they get really bent out of shape. This has to do with training you to relax and take it easy as far as your ego is concerned. If every time somebody gives you a light hit or a light punch or a light push in chi sau, you get really upset and have to retaliate full power, this basically means you're not in control of your ego, you're not in control of your self. When you practice chi sau, try not to make it too competitive, especially at first when you're still developing your skills. Try to practice in a very relaxed way and not worry about whether you get hit or how many times you hit your partner. Just think that the idea is that you need to make yourself better than when you were that day when you started. If your reactions have improved, if your general ability to nullify attacks and give way and borrow force and to stick has improved, then that's the whole point. It's not about you beating your partner.

If you really want to test yourself against your partner, do what every other martial arts style does. Put on a pair of gloves and just go duke it out and spar. That's the ultimate test of what you can do, not how good you are in chi sau. Too many wing chun people stake their reputation and their claim on how good their chi sau is, and chi sau is only one part of the overall strategy. Make sure it's not competitive, make sure you keep it in perspective, and don't get bent out of shape because you get hit. Think about it. No matter how good you are in your chosen martial art, there's always a chance you're going to get hit on the street. There's always a chance you're not able to stop everything your opponent does to you. If you get bent out of shape by getting a little palm strike in training, what's going to happen to you on the street when somebody actually hits you in the middle of a fight?

You have to train yourself not to worry about these things. Of course, we don't want to get hit. The idea is we don't want to stand there brawling with our opponent trading shots, but if you do get hit or you do get pushed or you do get knocked down or whatever, you have to fight anyway. You have to keep going. One of the easiest ways to not get bent out of shape about these kind of things that are very normal on the street is to not get bent out of shape about them in training.

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