Programme Talk: Wing Tsun sections - chi sau in combat

What is poom sau? 

Chi sau is a training exercise that develops the flexibility and response to the body against attacks from one or more opponents; using prolonged contact and your reaction to pressure to divert the force of your opponent away from your body.....

What is poom sau?

Chi sau is a training exercise that develops the flexibility and response to the body against attacks from one or more opponents; using prolonged contact and your reaction to pressure to divert the force of your opponent away from your body.

Although chi sau can be applied with any part of the body as long as you can apply pressure to divert force, a student’s focus in chi sau is in the training technique of poom sau in the beginner stages of training. Poom sau can be defined by the arms rolling from an offensive to defence position constantly in a training drill with two wing tsun practitioners. In-between this “rolling” of arms, both practitioners spar, both trying to strike each other either by breaking contact with their opponent’s arms or breaking the balance of their opponent by trapping - diverting the energy of their opponent compelling him to fall, or other wing tsun tactics to create an opening.

what it teaches

Relying too much on visual information in a fight can leave you ‘ blindsided’ to strikes you didn’t see coming. After seeing a strike or combintation coming towards you, if takes time to comprehend exactly what the opponent is trying to accomplish. Is this a strike? A faint? Will my opponent try to grab me and take me to the ground? The possibilities are endless, and the room for error too big to be strikes frequently without more information. The use of touch in combat is wing tsun’s answer to that to that lack of information. By creating contact with the opponent (usually on the arms or wrists of the opponent with your palms) you and able to feel through the force or motion the attack of your opponent and react faster then with just visual information, as you absorb this information through your motor reflexes, making your defence an instinct rather than a thought out response.

This idea of an immediate attack as soon as you feel contact with your opponent is what makes wing tsun such a famous method of self-defence. This method of combat no longer relies on your awareness of your opponents strategy or lack of. But instead where the force and contact you have are in relation to your opponent. This makes your response to an attack much simpler and hence much easier to respond, lowering the room for error and making safer because of that.

But how and why do we build this into our body?

Poom sau is only one piece of the puzzle when building ‘touch combat’ into our body. Aimlessly sparring gives little benefit to your training. The training must have a focus on what it is trying to accomplish. Are you looking to create a stronger defence against straight attacks? Maybe you need to work on locking and trapping opponents in a non-aggressive way? Or maybe just work becoming more dynamic in your movements. To create this focus, GrandMaster Leung Ting along with Grand Master Kernspecht created the Wing Tsun sections. A sequence of movements combined together to train under a theme you will face in combat. For example, section 1 trains the idea of ’stopping something from happening’ whether that is a strike, a defence or a trap. While section 2 is a complete sequence of both locking and unlocking yourself and opponent from martial art holds you may encounter.

The goal of these sequences is to not just follow a set pattern monotonously, but to mix the sequence randomly, at fast speeds, at low movements, to spar and fight within the sections. To train it so much, that just the touch or response from a section you have trained hundreds of times in a combat situation gives you an instinctual response to an aggressive action; allowing you to defend yourself without even having to question your technique.

Wing Tsun is a martial art and self-defence system based on using the instinct your body has, and moulding it to into a weapon. If you train with focus and repetition, your training will not fail you.

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