Chi-Sau exercises start with various levels of Dan-Chi-Sau, using only one arm, continues with Poon-Sau, the rolling arms, and finally leads to the actual Chi-Sau, using both arms for different attacks and defenses. Bruce Lee introduced Chi-Sau to the public during his first demonstration. Invited by Ed Parker did Bruce Lee participate in the Long Beach International Tournament in 1964, was discovered and subsequently offered the role of Kato, the masked crusader in the 1965 TV series "The Green Hornet". Above video clip features some of the Chi-Sau sequences, starting at about 3:00 into the clip.
Different 'wing chun' lineages place importance on different aspects of the Chi-Sau exercises. In my many years of learning and teaching Wing Tsun I have seen that besides the benefit of developing reflex-like responses many other important advantages begin to form.
One builds over time a good feel for balance, resilient against attempts of being pulled or pushed. It promotes the linkage of muscle groups throughout the body, helping towards a fluid and flexible movement. Another result of Chi-Sau training is an increasing ‘short range’ striking power. Timing and fine-tuned feeling for distance, co-ordination between hand/arm and footwork, better positions, angles and many other accomplishments make the Chi-Sau training a well-rounded exercise.
Quite a few enjoy Chi-Sau even as a different kind of fitness exercise, a workout from hell you can’t get in any gym! Why not? Not everybody’s goal or intention is to become a Kung Fu fighter or Wing Tsun professional. Many look around for different types of exercises, new workout challenges. Again … Why not?
Now today to another set of ideas to help you improve your Chi-Sau training:
Exercise 2 – Speed:
1a) Train any Chi-Sau exercise extremely slow, and I mean really in slow motion. When others in class look at you for just a moment, they should almost have the impression that you stand still. Now try to keep this slow motion up for 20 minutes or longer. For example go through a set of attacks and defenses. Feel exactly which muscles get involved when and how. Feel your tensions, attempt to release them. Feel which muscles don’t seem to do their job. This can be a very excruciating exercise. I have seen many seasoned and strong training partners start shaking and sweating and breaking down within minutes.
1b) Train with ‘regular’ speed, meaning your typical speed during Chi-Sau exercises, yet pay attention to details of your positioning, balance, smooth foot work (stepping, turning, yielding - horizontal AND vertical), distance, timing, etc.
1c) Now train at the highest possible speed, without losing control, without getting sloppy, without losing technical skills, without imitating a windmill, you get the idea. Now many begin to find out what fluidity, flexibility and mobility can mean.
Let’s meet again soon for the third set of ideas on how to improve your Chi-Sau training.
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