Wing Chun’s Chi Sao partner exercise, or ‘sticking hands’, is relatively rare in martial arts. It allows students to develop instant attacking and defensive reactions based on feel rather than vision. Combined with similar forms of partner work, like Yiu Shun, further versatility can be gained.

Yiu Shun is the partner exercise from Liu He Ba Fa, a martial art with similar roots to Tai Chi. Like Chi Sao, it seeks to win the centreline position, but it adds two extra dimensions: More contact points along the arms and dynamic use of stances to develop extra power.

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Similarities and differences

Chi Sao single hand practice takes the elbow from outside (Bong Sao) to inside (Tan Sao). The stance is held in a strong, static position and doesn’t move from the toes-in training position whilst the hands remain relaxed in order to ‘read’ and redirect forces through the forearm. In single-hand practice there is a short defensive move as the opponent’s Tan Sao moves to strike, using the Fook Sao to yield. In double-hand practice there is a longer movement that involves sidestepping, called Song Ma Tui Ma.

Yiu Shun partner training also has the hands moving from outside to inside, although there are three key differences. The first is that both arms are concurrently moving. The second involves the stance, which is also tight and strong, but has mobility, moving forward to attack and backward to retreat. This movement is very natural and becomes a reflex that is applicable to fighting. The third difference relates to contact points. The hands – which are naturally far more sensitive than the forearms – are used in the attacking move, making contact with the opponent’s arms.

As an addition to Chi Sao practice, the key benefits of Yiu Shun are: increased sensitivity through all points of the arms and hands, the ability to make first contact through the extra reach, and stance strength.

Summary

Both Chi Sao and Yiu Shun seek to gain the centreline and develop sensitivity through to arms to ‘read’ the forces. Yiu Shun takes things a step further by introducing more contact points, including the hands. It also brings the full potential of stance power into play, with forward (attacking) and backward (defensive) movements coordinated carefully with the hand work.

Our use of Yiu Shun comes from Grandmaster Wu who sought the soft hands of his master Lam Yiu Gwai. Wu integrated Yiu Shun into his Lung Ying program after learning from Leung Zhe Pang 梁子鵬. In part two we will explore his integration of push hands practice.

See also

Article: Written by R Zandbergs. Created from Barry Pang’s seminars.
Video: Filmed and edited by R Zandbergs
Main photo: Barry Pang demonstrating with Scott Peterson (2022)