How Much Do You Trust Your Eyes? (Part 2)



(Photo by Alex Perez)


In Part 1 we looked at the importance of feeling what you are doing rather than just having it look good, especially when in Chi Sau application.


Do not make your Wing Chun ‘Style over substance’, make sure it works because it feels right, rather than because it may look cool.

This is why it is important to train your sensitivity in Chi Sau.

‘Sensitivity in Chi Sau’, now there’s an expression that, if misunderstood, could easily be open to ridicule, and leave some non Wing Chun people thinking:


‘How the hell is being sensitive going to help you in a real fight?’.


Well to answer this, it is a good idea to first break down the build up of a fight..


Let’s first look at the ranges within a conflict, this could be described as:


1 – The argument

2 – The attack

3 – The grapple


1 – Looking at the argument first, within this range we would assume that the aggressor is not quite in punching range but may be willing to try executing a kick, so watch for any shift in weight distribution, and if his left leg is forward, keep slightly to his left, this will make his kicking leg (the right) have to travel further, giving you more time to react.

Oh and if he moves a little when you move a little, you were probably right in your assumption.

It is also worth noting that at this range, we are still in a position to try to defuse the situation.


2 – Moving on then to the attack itself, or, ‘First contact‘.

At this juncture I would point out that you are always in danger when you’re in transit, so if ‘you‘ have decided to make the first move, consider this when stepping in, otherwise you could be about to walk on to something?

The attack is basically everything we have ever trained in block and counter defence, from Tan’s to Bong’s, Pak’s to whatever, now, if your reactions in this area are successful then we may never get to the grapple, and I do not mean on the floor, I am referring more to a grab and tussle.

When ANY contact is made, your reliance on your eyes is now completely gone, primarily because you are too close to see anything but also because your reactions to what you see (if you do see anything), will be too slow, this is what you were training for in the sensitivity of Chi Sau, removing the thought factor.

If a rock came through your window right now, you wouldn’t think of looking, you would immediately react, no thought, just action, and it is this that way aim to achieve in Chi Sau.


‘Luk Sau, Jic Kuen’

(Lost hand, straight punch)


Getting back to the attack.

Let’s say for example, that a right hook came in and you block and counter with a Biu and Punch, if a left hook followed, you would not be reacting to the sight of this second attack but instead to the feel of the right arm moving away and the rotation of the attackers body, allowing you to follow suit with a second counter attack, this is clearly action over thought.


3 – The grapple is the final stage, where push came to shove, came to grab, when this close we are feeling for every move of the body, i.e. if your opponent wants to hit, they will probably retract their arm first, giving you the opportunity to strike them, covering as you do so, obviously.

So in essence, what we are doing in Chi Sau, is taking something so aggressive, forceful, muscular and barbaric as a tussle, and then trying to put this awareness under the microscope in order to better understand it, this is sensitivity in Chi Sau.


So start early by feeling what you are doing in Dan Chi Sau & Lap Sau exercise, rather than just going through the moves while hugely out of range, and then apply this to all future training.


It is true that if your Tan was low in Chi Sau you would get hit, and you would probably be asked to play more Siu Lim Tau, or if your turning was wrong, you may be asked to play more Chum Kiu, BUT the reason you need to play the Forms is so you can understand the correct shape and feeling without the threat (or added confusion) of attack, THAT is why solo training in these areas is so important.

Then, if someone presses your Tan down while you are rolling,




Either resist the pressure a little, (always know your limits and never do anything you cannot recover from) or change to a Fook Sau, but as soon as the shape changes its feeling, alarms bells should be ringing.

Oh and if the person you are playing with is shorter than you, as my Sifu (Ip Chun) would always said to me:


“Always lower your stance, never your arms.”


So do not be using that as an excuse.

And as a final point here, if you feel as though you may get hit when you try to change, step out as you do it, Chi Sau is not just about the hands, it is about using the body as a whole, but I’ll leave the feet for another day.


Thank you for reading.



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