“Lat Sau Jik Chung, Loi Lau Hoi Sung. Translation: Receive what comes, follow what goes. Upon loss of contact, rush in.”
Wing Chun Songs
WARNING: This article is pretty technical – if you haven’t started Chi Sao yet, it might be a little confusing. SM
In Part One of this article, I talked mostly about what it meant to do “Lok Sau,” a training exercise in the Chi Sau family where we basically lock horns (with our Chi Sau shapes) and shut down all attempted attacks at their root. The partner is not allowed to find any gaps.
This is an essential step one – you have to get good enough and sensitive enough to be capable of shutting your opponent down, deflecting all attempted attacks. This is done by having sensitivity, which is accomplished by having the correct forward pressure (not too soft, not too hard).
If the opponent’s Fook Sau tries to come forward, your Tan Sau arm should feel it and go forward, changing the angle of their Fook Sau. If the opponent’s Tan Sao tries to come forward, our Fook Sau should sense this and move forward into a Jaam Sau shape, etc. If they punch, you Bong.
This is easier to see and feel when doing the three dimensional version of this drill, where the partner steps in with the hit, as you Jaam and Tui Ma (angle step off the line) or Bong Sau and Tui Ma.
If you are not rolling yet, just understand this means that you need to learn to detect when the partner/opponent tries to enter your real estate. You have your side of the board and they have theirs; don’t let them get onto your side of the board.
Toward the end of Part One, I started to talk about the springy forward energy that characterizes Lat Sau Jik Chung. What is meant by “springy?” How do you achieve this springiness?
Its also called “whippy” and is compared to a green limb of a tree, the sort some people used to use a “swtiches” to whip their kids in the old days (there is a great Richard Pryor routine on this subject).
Whippy, springy, what the hell?
This is one of those times where words really struggle to convey the information. If you were standing with me, I would show you. I would have you prevent my forearm from moving forward, holding just below the wrist as I directed this energy toward your center of mass and I would say, “you feel that?” Then I would have you suddenly let go of my arm (pulling your hand quickly back) and have you observe that my hand would spring forward and hit you.
There are various methods to build this skill and different practitioners find their way via different roads.
I figured it out when I started conceptualizing the anatomy.
You have three bones in the arm: the humerus (upper arm) and the two bones in the forearm (radius and ulna).
Here you see an arm in the Tan Sao shape with a fist on the end of it.
The biceps tendon connects to the radius bone and the triceps tendon connects to the ulna bone.
When the biceps contract, the forearm is pulled toward the humerus (upper arm), closing the upper and lower arm together (my hand moves toward my face).
When the triceps contracts, it pulls on that tendon which goes under the elbow and rotates the forearm away from the upper arm (my hand moves away from my face).
That is the “punching with the arm” action.
When I was doing Chi Sao, I was having trouble making the forward motion toward my opponent’s center automatic (aka springy).
After much playing around, I found that I could position my arms and body in such a way that my elbows were pointing down AND my humerus bones were pointing toward the center of mass of my opponent/training partner. A tension was created in the lower triceps tendon where it passed under my elbow and inserted into the ulna.
Think of it as if it were like a set of nunchaku, only instead of a rope between the two sections, there is a spring. If you bend the spring, bringing the two sections toward one another, this creates a tension in the spring. If you let go of one of the sections, the spring snaps back into shape and the other end of the nunchaku snaps out until the whole thing is straight.
This is your straightened arm.
The spring is the tendon from the triceps inserted into your ulna bone.