Make a Bridge, Take a Bridge, Break a Bridge

“Bridging” is something we often refer and seek to consistently apply in the Ving Tsun system. This quality is required in order to experience the full potential of any of the concepts that involve the actions of striking, assisting, controlling, countering, changing, or recovering. In order for a practitioner to engage the use of their various tools they must first make connection with their opponent. This can be achieved in a variety of ways.

A simple and most ideal example of this is a successful strike to our opponent’s center via contact with the skull, neck, or trunk of the body. However, we need to assume that they are competent enough to defend themselves while attacking us. In order to understand how to contend with such a defense the trainee can experiment and explore through the various distances and angles provided by the list of five specific partnered exercises in the system. They are Paak Sau (Slapping Deflection Hand), Gwoh Sau (Crossed/Crossing Hand), Daan Chi Sau (Single Sticky Hand), Laap Sau (Dispersing Hand), and Seung Chi Sau (Double Sticky Hand). Each of these exercises provides a platform to study the variables and elements that constitute an exchange and allows for us to explore the multitude of instances where the quality of “bridging” can be experienced.

If we were to take one of the five exercises to paint a clearer picture about how a trainee experiences the training and development of the quality of¬† “bridging” we could observe one the most fundamental, Paak Sau. This exercise is typically the first taught in the novice stage of learning and its training is continued through to the advanced stage. The operation of the exercise is as follows:

Two trainees are engaged in separate tasks. One trainee is designated the “Puncher” while the second is, you may have guessed it, the “Paak-er”. The trainee punching is meant to commit themselves to consistent practice of the vertical punch while the trainee using Paak Sau is intended to intercept the incoming punches while committing concussive wave energy toward their training partner’s center of mass while controlling the center line. In order to employ a successful Paak Sau the trainee’s hand should have the palm open and the fingers relaxed, pointing vertically, and with their thumb in a tucked position at the side of the palm. The heel of the palm is designed to meet the base of the wrist or top of the forearm of the extending punch from the training partner. There are many tools available to explore in this exercise but the fundamental purpose is to explore the primary tools of the vertical punch and its counter action, the Paak Sau.
The instant the heel of the palm makes connection with the intended point of contact on the wrist or forearm a momentary “bridge” has been established. Though fleeting due to the design of the exercise and the reality of such an exchange, the trainee can begin to develop a sense of how one can create a connection from their structure through the space between the trainees and directly to the puncher’s center of mass. This is ultimately accomplished by several principles and their constituent concepts being applied via their construct. The general idea is that a “bridge” now exists and affords the trainee a greater degree of awareness with regards to the intended follow up motion and action of the trainee designated as the puncher. In other words, the trainee correctly applying the Paak Sau is now able to monitor and trace the potential direction of reaction of the puncher through the connection established by their connection.
The training to become aware of this quality is difficult as it is largely understated through dynamic and disruptive applications. The higher the frequency of activity between two trainees the more difficult to detect the quality becomes. However, this ought not to deter one away from seeking to cultivate this kinesthetic skill with further awareness of its existence. Fortunately, the skill will naturally develop well enough on its own without the direct attention of the trainee within the novice stage of training, but in order to develop a high proficiency in this skill it is absolutely recommended for the trainee to find a qualified coach to ensure a proper training model is provided to maximize their success in achieving the obtainment of this most essential skill and quality.
In the next article we will explore several of the Kuen Kuit, “Fighting Songs, within the Ving Tsun system and how we may seek to apply them.
Until then, keep training and studying!
– Sifu Brandon Schlueter-Cat