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The Art of Chi Sao

The Art of Chi Sao.


The concept of Chi Sao within your system of Martial Arts. Chi Sao simply translated means "Sticky Hands" Originally from the Martial Art of Wing Chun. 


Chi Sao has transcended the style of Wing Chun into a few other Arts. Within Natural Spirit International it has found a home with the Unique style of Jesse Glover's Non-Classical Gung Fu, and this has been passed down to Datu Kelly S. Worden. Chi Sao within NSI has a different flair then your more Traditional School of Wing Chun. Within NSI Chi Sao is practiced with a more forward energy and combat based intent.


The misconceptions of Chi Sao:


Some see Chi Sao and are quick to make judgements on how it is not an effective fighting System. These comments and understandings are made from a place of Misunderstanding and likely the person making the comments has never been exposed to or truly understood the intent and reason to train Chi Sao.




"Chi Sau (also spelled Chi Sao) is a major tool in developing killer Wing Chun abilities. If you want lightening speed, hair trigger reflexes, or to 'mind read' your opponent, practice Chi Sau."


Datu Worden explains Chi Sao as "Attribute development" The truth is in the practice. If you only train this once in a seminar you will not discover the "hidden" abilities and techniques that are born from this practice.


Lets talk about Perceptual Speed, Reactionary Speed and Action.


Understanding Perceptual Speed:


"Perceptual speed is the ability to quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. In tests of perceptual speed the things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other."


If we put this understanding of Perceptual speed into the context of the Martial Arts, then we can apply the concept of Quickly compare the pattern of movement of our opponent, or "Read" our opponent's actions.


Understanding Reactionary Speed:




"the act or process or an instance of reacting"


So in the Arts, how quickly we respond to the movement or attack is our "Reactionary Speed"


Understanding Action Speed:




"The manner or method of performing a function of the body or one of its parts. 

an engagement between troops or ships  

(2) : combat in war"


Understanding Action VS Reaction:


Speed tests have been studied in great depth, here is the result of one such study for you to ponder:




“reaction time” is more than just the time required to draw a firearm, press a trigger, or press a brake. Reaction time also includes at least one-quarter of a second, and as much as 1.2 seconds of perception/cognitive processing before any movement takes place (and that’s in ideal, controlled conditions). 

Taking those numbers and placing them in the context of self-defense, let’s try to answer the questions posed earlier:…our full reaction might take more than three seconds, which is enough time for an attacker to cover more than 50 feet. 

In summary, the short answer is that action always beats reaction."


So taking these factors in, Perception, Action and  Reaction, As Martial Artists it would be in our best interest to be able to train so that we can respond to a threat. Perceive the threat, position ourselves in the best manor possible and neutralize the threat. 

IF the attack has already happened we are forced into a "Reaction", at this point it is in our best interest of self Preservation to negate the attack and turn our "Reaction" into "Action".

How do we do this?



So this brings us back to Chi Sao. In our system of understanding Chi Sao, this is a great "Reactionary" Skill development tool. Basically training this increases our Perception of the movement, locks in skill sets into muscle memory and teaches us about, Positional control, balance, environmental awareness as well as tool development.

Multiple tools can be discovered from this close quarter position. We train: Striking, Locking, Weapon deployment, trapping, locking, disarms, reversal skills and footwork.

The multiple benefits derived from this essential drill are numerous. Check out the video to see a few examples of how you can incorporate Chi Sao into your training.

Please feel free to ask questions to further your understanding of this Great Drill.

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