“Chi Sao provides the ultimate answers for fighting circumstances, but due to being very simple and simultaneously being very complex, it is almost impossible to explain.”
Many videos on Chi Sao are resident on the internet, which in fact do not have any resemblance with Wing Chun. It is hard to distinguish fact from fiction due to the many lineages and aberrations thereof. Even Chi Sao competitions (!) are held, which is the conclusive evidence that Chi Sao is understood by only a few.
As we already explained what makes Wing Chun unique in the chapter ‘Wing Chun: “A Theory Of Fighting”, Chi Sao is the practical application of all concepts of Wing Chun.
Chi Sao literally means ‘sticky hands’. It deals with the ‘heart’ of Wing Chun. Wing Chun without fully understanding Chi Sao is fundamentally a different style again. Wing Chun with the understanding of Chi Sao ensures the thinking in concepts and creates a theory using those concepts. The joining of the five principles of the Kun Kut ensures that you will not receive attacks (get hit) but only deliver attacks during Chi Sao.
Chi Sao is primarily an exercise which initially teaches you how to deal with the force and/or pressure of your opponent:
- a strong force / heavy pressure
- a weak force / light pressure
- a fast force / short pressure
- a slow force / long pressure
There is no fight without physical contact with an opponent there. Through contact (sticking!) with your opponent you will have control over the position within a fight with the aid of Chi Sao. This control can be obtained by making use of the principles of the Kun Kut. The ultimate goal is to create a free passage for your attack (e.g. fist/elbow/knee) to your opponent. The sticking (Chi) is therefore not a goal by itself, but only a mean to success. Just as Chi Sao is not a goal within a fight, but only a tool to maximise your chances to survive.
You could compare Chi Sao to sunrays and the sun, representing separate techniques and actual fighting. It is impossible to study the millions of sunrays there are. The same way, it is impossible to study all martial arts techniques and fighting circumstances. What is possible however, is studying the sun, and therefore understanding what every sunray consists of. Once you understand Chi Sao, you will know how to approach a fight as effective as possible. Fully understanding all aspects of Chi Sao would be a life’s journey, and may even be impossible, just as the sun still holds many secrets for us, simply because we have not developed the techniques to study the inner sun yet.
You may have gained some further understanding of what makes Chi Sao special and unique. Moreover, maybe you will understand the first sentence even better now: “Chi Sao provides the ultimate answers for fighting circumstances, but due to being very simple and simultaneously being very complex, it is almost impossible to explain.”