During Chi Sau practice, students often ask where they should look. My answer is they should look at the opponent’s chest. This is because the hands move very quickly and we cannot follow them otherwise we will get dizzy. Once this happens then we will get hit. So we must look at an area where we can see the hands but not focus on them directly and this area is the chest.
Also during Chi Sau we must know the space around us. We should know how much room we have on the left, on the right and most importantly, how much space is behind us. We do not have eyes in the back of our head and so we must sense how much room we have, otherwise our opponent will use it. Chi Sau is not just about practising techniques, but also about learning how get a good position. Sun Zi in the “Art of War” said there are five things we need to know in war:
- Dao (the meaning of the war – everybody should have the same heart)
- Sky (weather and temperature)
- Earth (environment and position of the people and things in the environment)
- Leader (should have a good leader for success)
- Rules (should have a good system with clear rules)
Being aware of the environment is number three, “Earth”. When we Chi Sau, we need to look but we should not have to move our head too much. We should use our eyes, but use our peripheral vision and only shift our eyes slightly to the left and right. Sometimes we can even look down. We need to sense things around us and be aware of the space so that we can do Chi Sau without tripping or getting cornered by our opponent. If we feel our opponent trying to back us into a corner or up against a wall, we can use our footwork to move out of danger.