Chi sao training develops timing and contact reflexes. Many chi sao techniques do not apply to actual combat, but, through these techniques, the practitioner will develop the fundamental skill of contact reflexes which is the key to victory in combat. The other benefits of chi sao are, close distance coordination, focusing with the eyes, mobility, balance, timing, accuracy, control of the opponent's balance, and Chi power.
We all know that force has only one direction, but the force developed in chi sao can be interpreted as a force with several dirctions, like a guided missle following its target. This force can only be acquired from proper wing chun chi sao exercises.
In combat, a temporary contact is made with the arms after a block or attack. At this contact point an opponent's next move can be detected as a transmitted vibration.
There are three possible situations:
- The opponent's force continues in the same direction as he/she follows through with his/her movement;
- The opponent's force stops before going on to another movement;
- The opponent's force retreats to the opposite or other direction.
There are five chi sao drills:
- One arm chi sao drills
- Two arm chi sao drills
- Lop da (grab and strike) drills
- Cross arm drills
- Parallel arm drills
There are different levels of training in these five stages. At first the movements are predetermined. Later, you progress to random movements. Next will be predetermined movements/techniques while blindfolded. Finally, the techniques will be done spontaneously while blindfolded.
Chi Sao will teach you how to use both sides of your brain. The right side of your brain controls the left side of your body and the left side controls the right side. You will learn how to use both arms interdependently. A pianist can play one rhythm/melody with the left hand and another with the right hand. Try rubbing your head with one hand and patting you stomach with the other and vice versa. Now try doing it faster and faster as in a real fight. Get the idea?
The fook sao is patterned after a Fox's paw. The fingers should point downwards so there is a 'tunnel' that redirects an oncoming force away from the body.
If the bottom of the hand is parallel to the ground the tunnel leads right to the centerline. In chi sao this is a problem because any force coming towards the centerline will have to be forced away. If the tunnel is already facing away form the centerline force isn't necessary for redirection.