Touching Hands (Chi Sau) – Making the Sweet even Sweeter

Most Sundays, when I was a little younger, which is probably a little bit more than a little time ago now that I am over forty and supposed to take it easy (phooey!),were spent down the beach or walking through one of the beautiful glens back home on the Isle of Man.


Sifu says that in order for your Wing Chun to be good you need to Chi Sau with as many people as possible.

Most of the glens had paths that wove their way in and out of a canopy of trees, across little rickety wooden bridges that ran over a meandering stream that babbled all the way down to a secluded pebbly cove only accessible from the sea or from the long walk down the glen. The walk down the glen and the picturesque view at the bottom were worth the trek and were the sweet rewards for the journey. But what was to come next was bitter, especially for a small boy. This was nothing other than the long, uphill hike back to the top. It was a bitter and tiring struggle with me continuously asking my dad how much further and him continuously replying, “Not far, just around the next bend”. So, how many blooming corners are there? Because when I look back on it there seemed to be hundreds!

In most journeys there is an element of bitter and sweet, easy and hard, or if you like – Yin or Yang. My journey with the Chinese skill and the Tse Qigong Centre started sweetly because I had found something I was looking for – Wing Chun, a martial art.
The discovery was sweet, just like the hidden cove at the bottom of the glen, but now that I had found it, I had to do something with it, put some effort in, in order to keep and maintain the sweet.

When I first began training I used to go to class once a week, but after a while I realised that if I was going to find out how the senior students could just find my centre and move me about, or just touch me gently at will with what seemed the minimum of effort , then I
was going to have to train more than once a week . In those days the room we trained in
seemed to have no restrictions on time and we used to practice for hours. So, when I started training twice and then three times a week that added up to a lot of hours, which kept what I had found sweet and made me feel good inside, and a happy mind is a happy body with happy healthy Qi.

Training today in class, we no longer have the luxury of a hall with no time limits on it, so class is restricted to the time available. So if you only train once a week and then miss a couple of weeks when you return it’s hard to find the thread as you’ve lost the continuity.
Also, you do not get enough opportunity to improve your Wing Chun skill when missing the chance to train your hands with a variety of fellow students, and without this variety you will lack the experience to go a little bit further around the next bend.

Maybe it is not easy to get to class more than once a week and put those hours in. Work, home and socialising with friends all need time, but there is an opportunity to get extra quality hours like at the Chi Sau Day we had back in May. If you’ve not thought about it the Chi Sau Day has a lot to offer. To start with, the first thing on offer is time – four hours of Wing Chun training with Chi Sau, techniques, and tuition with your Sifu, Sigong or even Tai Sigong. This is not only important for your skill but also for  your relationship with your teacher or your teacher’s teacher.

Having four hours available to train, if you cannot get to class once a week, is like having four weeks of practice at your fingertips. Having all that time to train with a huge variety of fellow students is probably one of the most important things you need if you want to improve your Wing Chun skill. If you want to have really good skill you need to touch as many hands as possible – long hands, short hands, strong and soft, quick and slow hands. All these components plus height and build give you a myriad of formulae and varieties . And as you work with each one and try to see how it works out, your skill will grow and you will find yourself jus t around the next corner. Sifu says that in order for your Wing Chun to be good you need to Chi Sau with as many people as possible. If you trained with only one person all the time you would know some skill, but eventually you will become stale because you will know what your partner is going to do before they do it and vice versa because you are too familiar. So, you need more than one. In fact, you need thousands of hands to touch! If you train with one person, your hands will start to change, and if you train with ten your hands, you will become good and when you can train with a hundred, they’ll become really good. As the numbers grow so do you, and the climb up the hill becomes easier because you have become stronger and more experienced and can know that sometimes if you want the sweet view then you might have to do a little work to get it .

By Martin Gale

Martin Gale helping in class

Qi Magazine Issue 89 Oct/Nov/Dec 2008 page 18-19