Building Better Bridges
6 Tips for Improving your Bridging Skills
Without good bridging skills your Chi Sau skills will have very limited application for fighting. Here are a few ways to isolate and improve those skills.
Proper heavy bag work improves Bridging Skills
For bridging and fighting skill in general, you need to be able to intuitively understand range. This only comes with practice. The heavy bag provides one such opportunity. When working the bag, make sure to include plenty of practice starting out of range and then closing. Also, don't neglect the practice of defensive hand motions while working your strikes. These need to be trained to the point they are units of movement that are part of strikes and not additional pieces. And are very much needed when forming a bridge, so you might as well work that here, too.
Recognize you already practice "Getting the Bridge"
All of your punch and grab defenses are practice at getting a bridge safely. If you can redirect and stick to a punch, you have a bridge. If you can turn the grab of an aggressor into a control point for yourself, you have a bridge.
Embrace the Dummy
So much of Dummy practice happens with the student starting right on top of the dummy (particularly if you only do the form on the dummy.) Use the dummy to practice closing the gap and to set up proper range and hand positions. Start out of range and then close quickly to obtain bridges to the arms and/or body. Explore different footwork and angles.
You can see some examples in this video here.
Break Away and Reengage During Chi Sau
Sometimes we lose contact with our partners during Chi Sau. When this happens, you do not always need to completely start over from a Poon Sau setup. Reengage dynamically using strikes, grabs, or covering techniques and go right back to it.
Don't start Chi Sau the same everytime.
When you set up with a Chi Sau partner, don’t always begin with the same hand arrangement. The default seems to be to start with the right arm in Bong sau and the left arm in Fook sau. It is good for beginners to have a set place to start but you don’t have to continue this forever. Try simply lifting your arms and matching up to your partner in a manner that immediate gives you bridges you can control from then roll. Over time this will give you practice at instinctively positioning yourself for good defense without even making separate practice for it.
Make separate practice for it.
Make time to practice getting the initial bridge with your training partners. The following drills will show you if you are building good bridging skills or just practicing to walk into strikes.
Start separated from your training partner, both will have their hands in a guard position. Practice rushing in and finding their arms. Experiment using different hand positions and footwork. Your partner will be relatively passive for this.
Gear up with gloves, headgear, mouthpieces and whatever else you deem necessary. Now your formerly passive partner will try to tag you as you close in. They only get one attempt to hit on each pass. If they miss or are otherwise controlled, that's it.
Your partner gets two attempts to tag you on each pass.
"Isolate, Integrate, Improvise. " -Ido Portal
Sifu Nick Edmonds
Red Light Wing Chun Phoenix, Arizona