Wing Chun is known for its Chi Sao or sticky hand training method. What is Chi Sao? It is a training method where two students execute techniques while maintaining contact with their forearms. It trains the nerves system reflexes to react and feel the intentions of your opponent. You will also greatly enhance your coordination (left – right brain) and learn to relax and maintain your structure under pressure. Chi Sao is not sparring, it is a way to train your Wing Chun skills and enhance your understanding about Wing Chun philosophy and combat strategy.
A student starts off learning the basic structure of the Chi Sao hand positions. Then proceeds with mastering Chi Sao techniques, strategies and improving muscle memory through repeated drills and other training methods. After the basic and intermediate stage of training a student will start to understand and appreciate the Wing Chun Maxims (Kuen Kuit), more advanced levels of body structure (Force Flow) and Chu Sau Lei Mental methods.
Wing Chun Maxims are the oral teachings (idiom 成语) of the old masters, these idioms or “words of wisdom” contain the essence of Wing Chun. For example: “Retain what comes in, send off what retreats. Rush in on loss of hand contact” or “Make the first move to have control and attack according to timing”. The essence and meaning of these idioms can only be understood in actual practice and as one gain more experience.
Body structure and Force Flow methods have two main levels of understanding, physical structure and energy or force structure. During a Chi Sao exchange the practitioner gauges the physical and energetic structure of his opponent and if it appears to be weak or incorrect uses this opportunity to his advantage (break his structure). When you “break your opponent’s structure” he has no defence and gives you an easy opportunity to hit and control him. This is a more advance application of Wing Chun and requires that the student has a good mastery of keeping his own physical and energetic structure at all times before he can sense and disrupt his opponent’s structure. The body structure and force flow principles are learned and applicable in all areas of Chu Sau Lei Wing Chun training.
14 Mental Methods, are concepts of Chi Sao strategies (not techniques) that may give rise to many techniques. Unlike basic strategies or techniques, mental methods are the principles and concepts that develop a deeper subconscious awareness of yourself, your opponent and the interaction in each moment. Students should have a good level of Chi Sao before they can appreciate and apply these methods. They serve to build strategy and game plans in all area of your practice. In total there are 14 Mental Methods. Here are some examples:
Mun Fa/ Yin Fa – Asking/inquiring and enticing. Asking can be done with the hands, pressure, body, steps, technique. In asking, you pressure the opponent and use 4 ounces to offset his 1000 pounds.
Jou Fa – Running – avoiding pressure or running from pressure, using pressure to give rise to new situations/techniques
Jeet Fa – Methods of intercepting – beating the opponent to the strike, recognizing threat and immediately shutting it off with the hands, body or steps.
Tao/Lou Fa – Methods of leaking and stealing, seeing an opportunity and taking it, or passively finding it