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How to Do a Paak Sau aka Slapping Hand in Wing Chun

Learn how to do a Paak Sau aka Slapping Hand from expert Sifu Alex Richter in this Howcast Wing Chun video.


Paak sau is perhaps one of the most commonly used wing chun techniques. It's so common that even other martial arts have actually adopted it into their system.

Paak sau, like I mentioned in the video about the side palm, is actually much better when it's done as a preemptive attack or it's done as a close range attack. To use it as a defense against a straight punch, if somebody's coming at you with a very powerful punch, it's not easy to clear something with a paak sau. That's why the side palm is much more suited. But sometimes if somebody's just getting a little too close for you, they're about to launch their attack, you can use it as a preemptive attack to go in and kind of shut them down.

Now pak in Cantonese means slap. Okay. Literally it just means slapping hand. So what we're trying to do is use our hand to slap our opponent's arm slightly out of the way. Now, it's not necessary to slap his arm really far away. All you need to do is create a little bit of space for the punch.

So if somebody's standing in front of you it's not necessary for me to paak sau his arm all the way to his pockets just to fire a punch. In fact, I wouldn't even recommend this, because if you're too aggressive with your paak sau you actually open up the line for the second punch to come in. So all I want to do is imagine that his arm is right here in my way. I don't quite have a clear shot to go in and punch, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to go in and clear that space with a paak sau right here and go in. If you notice, all I did was clear enough space, all right, for me to go in with paak sau and nothing more.

To practice this you should actually do it as a solo exercise first. Now, when we step in and we hit we're always going to hit with a low elbow. Because here's where we have our elbow force. Here's where we have power and protection. But in the air you can actually practice to extension just so you practice fully articulating your joints.

A real simple paak sau exercise is actually to start in the basic man sau, wu sau guard, take your front hand, and paak sau like this. It shouldn't go past where your elbow is, all right, so it shouldn't go all the way back here. And it doesn't need to go down. It can just stay about here hovering a little bit below the elbow, and then you can turn it into a simultaneous exercise like this. And this is paak sau punch, very standard movement.

If you want to generate a little bit more power for it a real quick tip is just to imagine that your partner has a fly on their arm and you need to squash that fly. If you try to use too much brute force it won't work. If he holds his arms really strong and I try to push his arm out of the way I am just going to bounce back almost like a reverb off of the force. But if I imagine he's got a small fly there all I want to do is kill that fly. And then go in, and it works much more effectively than using brute force.

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