Many Wing Chun schools speed hours and hours each week just doing Chi Sao, but how do you apply your skill in Chi Sao to actual fighting? In my opinion, the purpose of any striking combative art is to teach one to hit more and get hit less. Bruce Lee developed Jeet Kune Do because he discovered that if he could intercept his opponent’s movements, then not only would he hit his opponent, he would also nullify his opponent’s attack. Thus, hitting without getting hit. However, none of us cannot read our opponents’ every move and intercept them especially if they are trained fighters. We are lucky if we can intercept 20% of our opponent’s attacks. So, how can we use Chi Sao to raise that percentage? How can we apply Chi Sao in a real fight in order to hit and not get hit with greater accuracy?
To begin, we must understand the fundamental differences in structure and energy between Chi Sao and actual fighting. When we do Chi Sao, both partners have their arms extended away from the body. While the arms are not fully extended, they are extended enough to form a bridge or connection where the forearms connect in Chi Sao. Then we begin to roll the high/low Fook sao and Bong/Tan Sao. The difficulty when transitioning to fighting is that in a fight, your arms are rarely connected or bridged unless you’re grappling or ground fighting.
While Wing Chun has some principles and concepts that can be applied to grappling and ground fighting, it is primarily a stand up striking style. In a stand up exchange, however, you will rarely find yourself connected or bridged with your opponent as in Chi Sao. Also, the energy is not the same. In a fight, the energy goes forward , back, forward, and back as punches extend, retract, extend, and retract over and over. The energy is back and forth. The challenge for the Wing Chun fighter is to capitalize on the retracting energy going back without getting clobbered by the energy going forward in the opponent’s next punch.
A connection or bridge is simply one of your limbs touching one of your opponent’s limbs. Typically, a bridge or connection is formed when one fighter punches and the other one blocks. This forms a bridge because there is a momentary connection between the strike and the block, two arms connected. With a connection, there is also an exchange of energy as the punch comes in one direction and the block in another. Chi Sao is designed to teach the one how to deal with this connection. However, in terms of actual fighting, unless someone punches with both hands at the same time and you block with both hands at the same time, this connection of both arms is rare. When it does happen, it does not last very long like in Chi Sao since either fighter can simply disengage, step back, or grapple.
What usually happens in a fight is we have split second connection with only one limb or arm at a time while our opponent keeps his rear arm back covering the torso and chin. A common example of this is your opponent throws a jab, you see it and immediately do Pak Da. You land the Pak on his jabbing arm, but your “Da” or punch missed because when your opponent jabbed, he also slipped to the side. Now, you have both hands extended in Pak Da. You opponent only has one hand extended, so he hits you with his free hand. Even if you successfully land the punch in Pak Da, it may not be enough to stop his unbridged free hand from punching you in the face. Then you both trade punches. What if he is bigger and hits harder than you? What if you could guarantee that you will be in a position to hit him and where he cannot hit you? That's what we're seeking to accomplish and will explain more in parts 2 and 3.
This concludes part 1 of Bridging the Gap between Chi Sao and Fighting. Thank you for reading. More answers are included in part 2. I hope you will check it out. Thank you again.
Wishing you happiness and peace of mind.
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