Pak Sau: More Than Just The Sound
The pak sau was the first technique I learned in my former Wing Chun school. I recall countless number of drills to try to get the timing, sensing, and attaching correctly. However, within the first couple lessons of YKS Wing Chun under Sifu Tom Wong, I quickly realized I never understood the true application of the pak sau. In a sparring match with my Sihing, the pak sau I had learned and trained could not deter my opponent’s attack. None of the drills I practiced were applicable. The technique execution looked right, but looking correct is only half right. There are a lot of demonstrations with very nice sounding pak sau’s, but many could not be applied in a non-mechanical, choreographed fashion. After training under Sifu for some time, he explained that the pak sau can be used as a way to test whether you can match your opponent’s speed. Sifu explained that if you can’t keep up with the opponent’s attack (let’s say his jabs), there is no opportunity for you to apply other techniques. However, when you are able to match the opponent’s speed, you can apply the chi sao, the 12 san siks, and other various close range techniques of Wing Chun. Many times, an opponent would not just attack and leave their arms for you to “stick” onto. For instance, western style boxing would quickly attack and retreat. Yet, many Wing Chun schools adopt a very passive approach- letting the opponent attack first but trying to beat him to the finish line. What I realized was that the pak sau allowed me to relate better with my opponent. Instead of being passive, I can actively engage the attack and capitalize on the short connection between my opponent and me. Although the concept sounds easy to grasp, proper execution still requires arduous training. Seeing Sifu’s pak sau, I was able to witness its potential power and effectiveness for simultaneous offense and defense. As Sifu says, “Our pak sau can revolutionize the sport of boxing”.
(Jeff's original article was too revealing, We had to cut something out. Sorry Jeff)