Skip to main content

How to Do a Man Sau / Wu Sau aka On Guard in Wing Chun

Learn how to do a Man Sau / Wu Sau aka On Guard from Sifu Alex Richter in this Howcast Wing Chun video.


The wing chun arm guard position, or sometimes known as a pre-fighting posture by some Chinese masters is actually quite simple. Now, there is an entire theory and methodology behind why we stand this way, which is perhaps beyond the scope of this video but most people just want to learn the basics. So, that's what we're going to start with.

In the standard wing chun way we normally just stand in a position with we call man sau wu sau. Basically, the front hand is man sau which means asking hand, and the rear hand is wu sau. What is very important to realize is that it's just a pre fighting posture so it's a very flexible thing. It's not a rigid position. Your hands, when you're fighting, should be able to move. You shouldn't be standing here in any kind of rigid posture anyway when we're talking about fighting. We're not talking about fixed positions. We're talking about movement. So, it's very important not to get stuck into the feeling of trying to look like a statue. Now there's a real easy way to figure out where to put your hands especially for beginners. So, what I like to teach, is I like to tell my students to put their hands here. Basically, right at of their solar plexus. Right, like this. Put the other hand here, like that. Then leave this one here. Put this hand there like that. And then you're going to take your backhand and you're going to point it slightly upwards and take your front fingers and point it to the nose of your opponent.

And this is probably one of the easiest ways to get into what we call man sau wu sau. All right? If you notice, my wu sau hand is not fully articulated like this. That's because the fully articulated wu sau is only necessary in chi sau practice. When your opponent is standing far away from you it makes absolutely no sense to fully articulate your wu sau other than to make it look prettier. But this actually doesn't help you function any better in fighting. In fact, if you look at photo's the late great grandmaster Yip Man you'll see that his wu sau hand is quite relaxed in the pre-fighting position. That's because when we are fighting, or when we're about to fight, our main idea in wing chun is to launch a punch.

So, if my hand is in this position it's actually preset to go into punch. If my hand is this way, I actually have to turn it down before I can launch a straight punch. So, that's why keeping your hand this way here allows you to switch over the wrists easier, it allows you to set up other techniques much better in wing chun and it's basically the same position as your chain punch or your standard punching techniques in wing chun. So, that's why in the pre-fighting position, or the on guard position, you can have a more relaxed wu sau.

I'll talk in another video about the articulated wu sau which is more important in chi sau training. This is the standard, classical wing chun way of doing it. In self defense situations you can even modify it and use kind of nonclassical guard, which is basically just a man sau wu sau in disguise. From the frontal stance, from the advancing stance, depending on the situation. There are a number of different ways of doing it.

Popular Categories