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How to Do the Saam Bai Tze aka Saam Yiu Sau in Wing Chun

Learn how to do the Saam Bai Tze aka Saam Yiu Sau in Wing Chun from Sifu Alex Richter in this Howcast martial arts video.


In the Bui Tze form, which is the third form of Wing Chun, there's a very famous movement which is done in the very first part. In our system, we call it Saam Bai Tze, or sometimes they call it Saam Yiu Sau, and it basically means triple waving or triple wagging hand, or whatever you want to call it. It's a very strange looking movement, especially for people who are new to Wing Chun or people who are just seeing Wing Chun from the outside. Of course, that's why it's part of the advanced training. When you learn it, your Sifu will explain to you exactly what it's for, but for the outside eye, it's a very strange movement.

There are a number of different variations, even within the Ip Man Wing Chun system. There are some people when they practice it, they just kind of wave their fingers up and down very softly. There are others who practice something called a Sup Chi Sau, or a character ten hand, where they actually sway the entire arm this way when they practice it. In the system that we teach here, which is based off Grandmaster Ip Man's ladder teachings, the teaching of his final teaching period in the late 60s, early 70's, was something a little bit more like this.

The arm is actually completely straight and completely locked. When you do the Saam Bai Tze, you want to keep your fingers together. You see a lot of people, they do it with their fingers separate. One of the purposes of this is also to train your tendons. We do this to increase the amount of power we have in our punch, but we also do it because it allows is to get out of certain grips and get out of certain holds and to manage certain situations a little bit better than before you learn it.

In order to really train your tendons, one of the things that you need to do is you need to make sure your fingers are together. If you're practicing it with your fingers apart, you're going to lose a lot of the effect of this exercise. What we want to to is we want to make sure that our arm is straight. You keep your shoulder back. When your hand is outstretched, your fingers should be absolutely tight, and then when you practice it, you go down and up, maintaining the finger position like this.

In the form, we do it three times in all the different directions. We go one, two, three, then you open the hand, and then you come in, out, in, like this, and then you open it this way and you go up, down, up. The whole time you practice this, you need to make sure you keep the fingers together. In fact, if you want a really good workout for your tendons in your forearms and in your wrist, one of the things you can do is just do those for sets.

For example, in our school, when I teach my students the Bui Tze form, before they even practice the form, I make them do the Saam Bai Tze 50 times in each direction. You keep your arm totally locked, shoulder stays back, fingers together. Don't cheat by letting them spread apart, and you go with as much power as you can generate in your tendons down, up, and down, and you don't stop. Like this, over and over again like that.

It's a very subtle looking exercise, but after about 20, 30 reps, you can really start to feel it. The form itself, you only do it nine times on each hand, which again, the form is just a codification. Doing it nine times on each hand is not nearly enough to actually generate the tendon whip that we want to have in Wing Chun, so my advice is to practice it a little bit more on your own, and you can start simply by doing it 50 in this direction, 50 in this direction, and then 50 in the up direction. You'll definitely notice a change in at least your form grip, your tendon strength, and hopefully your tendon whip when you punch.

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