Inside Kung-Fu November 2003

ikf-november-2003Inside Kung-Fu

“Taking Chi Sau to the Street Part 2”

By Joseph Simonet

November 2003

Pg. 108-

One of the most critical elements of understanding and appreciating chi sau is defining the line between chi sau as a training tool and its role in developing real fighting skill. Practiced properly, it is a powerful method of developing close-range fighting reflexes based on touch rather than visual acuity. Practiced improperly, however, it can ingrain habits that are not only counterproductive to your training as a fighter, but can get you killed.

In part one of this article, I described several different exercises that could be used both as a precursor to chi sau training and as supplemental training to develop the structure and musculature necessary to perform chi sau well. As useful as these exercises may be, they are not chi say. As such, they are not and end unto themselves but rather a means to an end. Similarly, we must remember that chi sau is not fighting, but simply a means to achieving that end. Like any drill, the goal is not the drill itself, but the isolation and development of the skills the drill promotes.

To help you get the most out of your chi sau training, part two of this article will identify some of the weaknesses of chi sau as it is commonly practiced and teach you how to improve your practice and appreciation of chi sau by maintaining your focus on the real goal: combat skill.

Lack of Power

Perhaps the greatest problem with chi sau as it is taught and practiced today is that it has been reduced to a form of point sparring. Practitioners who take this approach typically assume laid-back, defensive stances that offer no real base for power generation. With this style of practice, a touch—any touch—is considered a hit. Even worse, many times once a “hit” is acknowledged by both partners, the action stops and they start the drill fresh.

Point sparring has been criticized for decades as an artificial, unrealistic form of training that is far removed from the reality of a full-contact fight. Practicing chi sau with the same mindset—that of a sophisticated game of “tag”—is just as far removed from the reality of a fight and just as counterproductive as training method.

Hits win fights, so good chi sau training must teach you how to hit. Don’t be content with touching to win; learn to


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