Wing Chun Single Sticking Hand

There is a phenomenon in Kung fu and it is the esoteric approach different systems have to interacting with each other verbally, mentally and physically. All Chinese Martial Arts have their specialties and interactive partner training. From Tainchi to Praying Mantis, Bagua to Choy Li Fut, they all interact differently and with a variety of objectives. 

Using Wing Chun as an example, with the many lineages and clans, we have a common language we use as our starting point for interactive training, and that is Single Sticking Hand or Dan Chisau in Cantonese. This is the first time a student learns how to 'stick' to their partner, feeling for changes and openings and it's the first building block of Double Handed Interactions. Without learning how to use one arm at a time, how do you expect to train both hands in unison? More importantly, if you have a competitive mindset and can not let go of your own 'want to win' attitude  you will never benefit from Wing Chun! Our interactive platforms are designed to assist learning and although this may involve a little competitiveness as we get better, in the beginning you have to follow precise instruction and work together to secure the basics.

When we see demonstrations or performances of Wing Chun we are rarely taken back to this initial stage of training. It isn't seen often as it may be considered too basic, so why are there so many variations to such a simple exercise? And why do we dismiss it once we progress? Firstly, I have a limited view of other families and can only really share what I have trained and our first step to training with a partner tends to draw from previous drills. We rotate the 'seed' of Wing Chun which we call bong, Tan and Fook hands. Bong is like a cranes wing reaching outwards, Tan can be likened to holding the palm upwards and Fook tends to turn the palm downwards. We use this cyclic rotation to strengthen tendons and joints in the shoulder, elbow and wrist and once we have a partner to exchange pressure it begins to awaken the whole body and, like an antennae, help the students feel each others intentions in the most energy saving and effective manner.

So the reason we all look different? I have read and heard so many people talk about this training method yet when I see it first hand I know straight away if we have a connection, both to each other and through extended Wing Chun Family! So it's not like we are doing anything different on paper, as most talk the same talk, but the reality is quite different sometimes as some walk a different walk! The only people I have felt more of a connection to are those who have trained within the Lee Shing clan but for me also, there are positives to pick up from outsiders too and we must never forget that. As individuals we all need to hone our skills for ourselves first and some will always have a different way forward as this is the nature of Wing Chun itself. Be open to individual expression but be aware of our limitations too.

We are the youngest Chinese Martial Art around, and we can always learn and progress and develop, especially if we start on a good path from the beginning.

About the Author:
Photo by Christian Plach
Spencer Devine started his Martial Arts training at 9 years old. Growing up in North London he has always enjoyed old school Kung Fu movies and when he was 19 he met his first, and only Wing Chun Sifu who took him on as a formal ‘Tou Dai’ Disciple in 1995. He has no formal students of his own and built his personal training space in his back garden which he later named ‘Flystudio – Wing Chun Tong’.
While learning to teach with his Sifu and kung fu family, Spencer often wrote and published articles on behalf of the ‘Jun Mo Gwoon’ and when he settled down and started his own family he continued to coach and train a small Wing Chun Troupe with his kung fu Brother, taking on the name The Yum Yeurng Academy. He has a traditional approach to training Martial Arts, covering more wider cultural practises and is known for his performance abilities and detailed understanding of the Lee Shing family and Wing Chun system.
He is a regular Facebooker, and has recently started to promote his approach to training Wing Chun through his Video Blog.

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