Chi Sao (Chinese
, Cantonese chi1 sau2, Mandarin chÇ�shÇ’u) or "sticking hands". Term for the principle, and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of "sticking" to the opponent. In Wing Chun this is practiced through two practitioners maintaining contact with each otherâ€™s forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and "feel". This increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponentâ€™s movements precisely, quickly and with the appropriate technique.
Chi Sao additionally refers to methods of rolling hands drills (Luk Sao). Luk Sao participants push and "roll" their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain relaxed. The aim is to feel forces, test resistances and find defensive gaps. Other branches do a version of this where each of the arms roll in small separate circles. Luk Sao is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branches where both the larger rolling drills and the method where each of the arms roll in small separate circles are taught.
In some lineages (such as the Yip Man and Jiu Wan branches), Chi Sao drills begin with one-armed sets called Dan Chi Sao which help the novice student to get the feel of the exercise, each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other. Chi Sao is a sensitivity drill to obtain specific responses, it should not be confused with sparring/fighting, though it can be practiced or expressed in a combat form.
Pushing hands is said to be the gateway for students to understand experientially the martial aspects of the Internal martial arts; leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination and positioning. Pushing hands works to undo a personâ€™s natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it. Health oriented tai chi schools may teach push hands to complement the physical conditioning available from performing solo form routines. Push hands allows students to learn how to respond to external stimuli using techniques from their forms practice. Among other things, training with a partner allows a student to develop ting jing (listening power), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partnerâ€™s intention. In that sense pushing hands is a contract between students to train in the defensive and offensive movement principles of their martial art; learning to generate, coordinate and deliver power to another and also how to effectively neutralize incoming forces in a safe environment.
Pushing hands is said by Tai Chiâ€™s Chen family to have been created by Chen Wangting (1600-1680) the founder of the Chen style Tai Chi Chuan and was originally known as hitting hands (da shou) or crossing hands (ke shou). Chen was said to have devised pushing hands methods for both empty hands and armed with spears. Other Tai Chi schools attribute the invention of pushing hands to Zhang Sanfeng.