Wu Sao in Wing Chun
In Wing Chun, Wu Sao is the rear protective hand within the self defence position or fighting stance of this martial art. In essence, it is the defensive hand of Wing Chun within the structure of Man Sao. Wu Sao could be considered a Wing Chun guard hand. In this context, its function is versatile as it can be moved to protect the face and cover the lower part of the chest, sternum.
Note that in this shape the elbow is held close to the rib cage, however the emphasis of the wrist shape is more important. There are two variations of the wrist structure. The first, and most common, is to push the edge of the wrist out slightly in the similar frame or structure to that of the first form. This creates a firm triangle structure with the rear hand, and allows Wu Sao to relax under pressure. The second is to angle the wrist and forearm so it has a slight forward intention. As a general rule, Wu Sao does not have the same forward intention as the Man Sao. Instead, it has greater degree flexibility in movement to protect the various gates of the body.
While one function of Wu Sao is defensive, the other is to replace Man Sao and/or strike when under pressure. Hence, when Man Sao engages contact, is obstructed, grabbed or knocked out of the way, Wu Sao is quick to shoot forward and replace Man Sao. The hands simply replace in an efficient manner by withdrawing the lead hand (Man Sao) and thrusting Wu Sao interchangeably over the top of the lead arm. Moving the arm over the top means that you are less likely to jam your own arm, and this a critical concept for beginners to learn at an early stage.
This form of movement is direct and efficient but unique to Wing Chun. The action engages the back and the elbows of the practitioner. In this martial art elbow energy is key because this method of moving engages the back muscles. Therefore, as the arm circulates while staying within the framework of the body it becomes an efficient but relatively strong way of moving.
This action becomes the beginning of what is known as ‘chain punching’ in Wing Chun. In effect, the replacement of the arms becomes a circular motion that fills the void between the two arms, while maintain control of the physical space between the Wing Chun practitioner and the attacker.
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