Sifu of Wing Tsun Kung Fu - Student of Sifu Ralph Hänel's WingTsun-CoreConcepts

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

If you build it...

Chi Sau Sections

I recently had a question about some parts of the Wing Tsun Chi Sau Section 1.  I realized that how I learned the sequence of this section in IWTA was different from the "original" EWTO version.  The reason I was wondering about this, was because there were certain parts of the IWTA version that I had not practiced in a while.  Such as the low palm entry and gan dar response, or another pak dar entry with jum sau then gwat dar, or the gwat vs. bong sau cycle.

This is not about whether or not the IWTA or EWTO version is correct or not.  They both are!  I have learned that each of the Chi Sau sections are a skeleton.  I interpret that as meaning a framework that can be used to dissect out different variations and scenarios.  So, the sections (like the forms) can be considered as a catalogue of techniques to teach us motions and sequences that we might not have trained otherwise.  Additionally, I think the so-called different variations within Section 1 could be considered as sub-sections, or mini-drills that practice certain motions that we might not have thought about as possibilities.

If we don't know that we don't know, how do we practice potentially useful skills we don't know?  Just like the initial phases of learning, moving from unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent (and then aiming for consciously competent, and finally the ultimate goal of being unconsciously competent, unless you are a teacher).

When we train WT, we can try to be creative with each Chi Sau section, to find out certain trajectories leading to different scenarios and responses from the core skeleton/framework.  But sometimes, being creative may not be enough for learners, and some further guidance may be needed.  And thus, I think that practicing all the different "variations" of the sections may be useful, treating it all as part of a catalogue.  The different scenarios do not necessarily have to be put into each of the sections as the core skeleton/framework, unless that scenario is perhaps particularly challenging to do for many, or commonly encountered, or fairly useful, or not easily realized by learners, for example.

What may help this creativity of practicing each section is having built the right body structure.  The basics!
Build what?

"The purpose of firmness is to keep one from getting too lax, while the purpose of gentleness is to keep one from getting too hard. Nothing can survive long by going to extremes."
-Bruce Lee in The Tao of Gung Fu, edited by John Little

If we are too firm or too gentle, we will have a difficult time reproducing any Chi Sau Section frame-by-frame with ease and flow.

In a world without any defined Chi Sau Sections, I believe that if we train our structure such that it is the right balance of firmness and gentleness, and in combination with all other key principles of timing, coordination, etc., that all the motions from Chi Sau Sections would just happen.  The attacks/responses would just happen.  Because everything including forward pressure, footwork, stance, weight-shifting, angles, etc., would all be just enough.

Perhaps someone with more knowledge about the history of Wing Tsun would be able to tell me that this is how the sections developed?  And then categorized, re-shuffled slightly, adapted to new scenarios if needed, all for the goal of recording a skeleton/framework for future learners?

Practicing the Chi Sau Sections is not enough
Just as the fact that only doing all the WT forms everyday does not make us a kung fu genius... doing all the WT Chi Sau sections in sequence does not make us a kung fu master.  The hardest part is dissecting out each part, branching out into variations through creativity, and actually applying them outside of chi sau, from guo sau and lat sau to defense against single random attacks.

We tend to try and "learn" techniques, and may think we know something but not actually how to apply it.  Similarily, we tend to think that because we can do a Chi Sau Section we can apply those responses in an actual self-defense/fighting scenario.

Knowledge does not mean Wisdom.  Motion does not mean Movement.
In conclusion
Being able to do the sequences of a Chi Sau section with a partner does not matter.  But really learning and training what is contained in each section may be helpful.  If we don't have the correct body structure and forward pressure to begin with, then everything else doesn't matter either.

If you build it...

Happy training!

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