January 5, 2018 / in News, Self Defense Tips, Techniques and Styles, Wing Chun Theory / by Tim Kittelstad
Learning martial arts is much like a knife. You will take your training through stages before you can use it. The two main stages involved are crafting the knife and sharpening the knife. When to Learn Wooden Dummy & Chi Sau depends on your view point in regards to these stages. I will speak from the perspective that I was taught at Sifu Och Wing Chun. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the “correct” way, it is simply how we do it here.
Knowing when to teach Wooden Dummy & Chi Sau
The view point that is at Sifu Och Wing Chun is one based in immediate application. When a student walks into our door we want to teach them street applicable techniques as soon as possible. We have had multiple students come into our studio living in dangerous situations. Our first advice is always to get away from the situation or people causing the problems. But when it comes to the techniques we can’t teach them Chi Sau or Wooden Dummy because at that moment it is not applicable.
They must be able to deal with dangerous situations and attacks immediately. We want to equip them with a basic defense against hooks, hard straight punches, take-downs, pushes, grabs etc. Once they have an established based we want to add onto their skill by adding combinations, transitions, and working against and with weapons. Finally, free sparring to train you on how to use and deal with other martial arts combat reactions.
The Need for Chi Sau
Now, the argument might be made that without Chi Sau it will be difficult to enhance certain aspects of your reflexes. To this I agree to a point. In Chi Sau you deal with close quarter sensitivity reaction as well as redirection and close range trapping. So it is a vital aspect of training Wing Chun.
However, for the new student, Chi Sau may be difficult to use as a tool. You must train Chi Sau to learn structure before using it for reaction. Making sure that you have constant forward energy, balanced strength, and good relaxation can takes weeks to months of hard training.To fill in the gab between sparring and Chi Sau we use wrist against. This is essentially Chi Sau reaction hands without the rolling.
The same is essentially true with the wooden dummy. But instead of referring to reaction the wooden dummy would deal with structure and positioning refinement.
Stage 2 can be equated to the sharpening of the knife. You now have a good solid foundation in your techniques. You know how to apply them and it what situation they should be used. Now we must work to make them stronger, easier, more efficient. This is the perfect place for Chi Sau and Wooden Dummy. With the correct context in mind when applying the techniques, the refinement of them now has a purpose.
Reverting back to the knife analogy. Imagine having a slab of metal and sharpening one side of it. Now, what do you have? A slab of metal with a sharp end. There is no way to use it as desired. Building the knife takes time. The handle, the guard if wanted, the length. You must make this part of the knife first before you can sharpen it. If you do not you are not only going to have a much hard time sharpening it but you will have an unusable knife.
Now, this goes without saying, all of the above depends on your goals. If you are seeking to learn Wing Chun to find balance in your life. Develop your mind and find new friends, then learning these aspects of Wing Chun sooner than later makes sense. However, if you are looking for the combat of Wing Chun then saving that for later is suggested for When to Learn Wooden Dummy & Chi Sau.