Kwan Sao has many uses and applications in fighting. Kwan Sao can be used to jam or smother and attack. It can also be used to cover against and incoming attack. Or it can be used to attack the limbs, body, or head. Here we explore practical fighting applications.
First, in basic terms, Kwan Sao is performed by combining a Bong Sao with a Tan Sao. The Bong Sao is typically slightly in front of the Tan Sao. When used to jam or smother an attack, the idea is to use the forearms going forward. The jam or smother in this scenario only works against straight line attacks such as a straight punch or side kick. When performed against a side kick or any straight kick, the Kwan Sao works best when combined with a knee to cover the lower body. The jamming Kwan Sao is good to rush down your opponent. It’s a way to enter and bridge the gap while maintaining your cover. You can bridge the gap from mid range to close range fighting in any number of ways like punching, kicking, or simply walking forward. Rushing forward with a Kwan Sao is essentially what we call “crashing the line.” In other words, you are literally crashing into your opponent with your structure, horse, and Kwan Sao.
In terms of footwork, you can lunge forward, triangle step, or circle step. Lunging forward is not literally a lunge. It just means pushing off your rear leg to accelerate your body and structure forward while maintaining the feet as low to the ground as possible, nothing coming too high off the ground. When shooting forward, it’s also important to maintain structure, not allowing your knees to stand up or your upper body and head to shoot forward first, leaning forward, with your horse trailing behind. Triangle stepping is also possible, but it’s much slower since you must step in two different directions (sideways, then forward). With triangle stepping, typically, your opponent will react in some way off of your initial step. If you can predict and time that reaction, then you can take advantage of it.
Circle stepping is also slower than simply shooting forward, but circle stepping can be used if you’re already in close to your opponent, but want to take another angle. You can circle with either the lead or rear foot. When circling with the rear foot, the rear foot comes forward and becomes the lead foot. In all of the footwork, the Bong Sao side will typically be the rear leg and the Tan Sao will accompany the lead leg. This allows balance in the stance and center alignment. If the Bong Sao accompanies the lead leg and Tan Sao, the rear, then there is a tendency for the Kwan Sao to turn toward the inside instead of going forward. You can do this and turn the Kwan Sao inside, but this would not be a jamming Kwan Sao since the energy is going in a curved line rather than straight forward.
When used to cover against incoming attacks, the Kwan Sao works great because it covers the whole area of the upper body (chest and head). Therefore, this type of Kwan Sao is often combined with an attack from the lower body such as a straight kick or side kick. While the jamming Kwan Sao is more pre-emptive in that you rush forward without knowing what your opponent will do, the Kwan Sao cover is a reaction based on knowing an attack is coming. Sometimes this reaction happens because you see the attack coming. Other times, it happens because you’re simply open in that area so you cover with the Kwan Sao in anticipation of an attack. The Kwan Sao covering doesn’t give you an advantage in the fight however unless you combine it with a kick. Simultaneous attack and defense. Otherwise, you’re just checking the attack and the opponent can just keep attacking. The goal in a fight is to stop your opponent from attacking by any means necessary.
Instead of just covering with the Kwan Sao, if you can use it to also damage the limbs or body, then this is best. When using Kwan Sao to strike any part of the body, you’re primarily using the elbow on the Bong Sao and the forearms. Obviously, these weapons can be applied on the limbs, body, and head. The body and head are self-explanatory. However, if you reach your opponent’s body and head, then you’ll likely not strike with a Kwan Sao, but perhaps a hard elbow or punch to deal more damage (Kwan Sao can be used as an elbow, but it’s not the most effective elbow strike). Therefore, as an offensive tool, the Kwan Sao is most effective in striking the limbs of your opponent when your opponent punches or kicks.
Against the limbs, you can target any area. When you opponent punches, you can meet his fist with the elbow of your Bong Sao in the Kwan Sao. It’s possible you’ll break your opponent’s hand if he punches full speed toward your elbow. If he is throwing a hook punch, you can turn your Kwan Sao to target the inside of his arm and strike the soft tissue in the arm. Obviously, using the Kwan Sao in this manner takes some conditioning of the forearms to maximize the damage of any impact. Once you damage your opponent’s limb, you’ll need to follow up. Often when you strike and damage a limb, the opponent will recover much quicker than if you struck or damaged his head or body. He may shake his arm out and keep attacking you. Take advantage of the initial shock when your opponent feels that sharp pain in his fist or arm after you connect on him. Follow up.
Regardless of how you use Kwan Sao, it’s never a static movement. Upon completion, you must flow into something else. Don’t just Kwan Sao and then look at your opponent waiting for him to respond. Follow the flow of the fight and continue attacking or countering his attacks. Always try to combine your Kwan Sao with a follow-up attack or counter-attack. In this manner, you can learn to blend you Kwan Sao in seamlessly with your existing movement and fighting style. Thank you for reading.
Wishing you happiness and peace of mind.
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