Chi Sao – Pon Sao

Chi Sao, the art of sticking hands, is a unique method of training from the Ving Tsun system of Kung Fu. Ving Tsun, a southern style of Chinese Kung Fu.

There are many approaches and reasons to practicing Chi Sao, some practice it mainly for sharpening their technical skills, others practice it for developing instinctive reactions and correct hand positioning. Some regard Chi Sao as a strengthening exercise, while still others study it for increasing sensitivity. Chi Sao is all of the above and more. The following is an interpretation of Chi Sao, the Ving Tsun method of sticking hands.

Constant flow of forward energy is called Chong Chi. Chong Chi is an aid to practice and helps increase the practitioner’s efficiency. It should not be looked upon as some sort of mysterious internal power source as some would like to believe.

If one presses the arms of a practitioner who has Chong Chi, the person will immediately feel a floating sensation against his own arm. This sensation is not so much an opposing jerking force, but rather a force similar to the force of a strong spring. The arm of the practitioner who has Chong Chi is full and substantial, quietly alive, with a feeling of direction and a sense of evenness, in other words, it has “just enough” for the task at hand. This even forward energy flow is similar to water going through a garden hose, filling every possible corner in the most efficient manner.

In the Ving Tsun system, a practitioner of Chi Sao uses both hands simultaneously against a partner. By rolling their hands (Pon Sao) in harmony, as well as in contrast, the practitioners cultivate the Chong Chi concept. The practitioner should keep the forward flow of constant energy and fill every possible gap in each roll and turn. As training progresses, the energy applied is refined. The practitioner attains the ability to penetrate even the most narrow of openings provided by his partner.

To learn Chi Sao properly, an expert instructor guides his students step by step by showing them how to apply the right flow of energy (energy in motion). In the hands of a novice, Chi Sao can turn into a jerky wrestling match, struggling up and down, left and right. Such strenuous practice will not only prevent the student from understanding the true nature of Chi Sao, it will also lead to his providing of openings for his partner to penetrate through. When Chong Chi is properly flowing through the arms of the practitioner, it is similar to water flowing through a hose. If the water is turned on and off, the hose will jerk. However, without the concept of steady flowing forward energy, the motion of my arms was spastic. This allowed my opponents to penetrate my defenses with their strikes during Pon Sao practice.

Jong Die, the elbow position, is important in Ving Tsun because it is a cushioning device or a deflecting auxiliary force used if the wrist fails to detect a sudden increase in pressure from the partner’s penetration. This particular elbow position is a trademark of a Ving Tsun player. The elbow is the immovable center, not in a sense of dead energy which does not give, while the forearm and the hand are pliable, adapting to changes. The hands Chi Sao should be soft, but not yielding, forceful and firm, but not hard or rigid.




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