Question: Hello Sifu Macek. I was was just wondering if you could help me with the “Bridging Hands”, how important are they in Hung Gar. I train [ABC] in [XZY] and my instructor says that too much is made about them and that they where only used for channeling the chi and sending it to the arms and that everyone else is doing it wrong.
I would be greatful for some clarity as although I respect him deeply I’m not so sure he’s right. Many thanks for reading my e-mail and take care and happy training.
Answer: “Bridge Hands” (Kiu Sau) are indeed very important piece of the puzzle in the overal Hung Ga Kyun training. Old Masters were fond of saying that Hung Ga Kyun traing is about “Waist, Bridges and Stances” (Yiu Kiu Ma). Orthodox Hung Kyun theory divides “Bridges” into 12 types, so called “Twelve Bridge Hands” (Sap Yi ji Kiu Sau): Gong, Yau, Bik, Jik, Fan, Ding, Chyun, Tai, Lau, Wan, Jai, Ding.
Most Hung Ga Kyun teachers will tell you that “Bridges” are about:
- Theory, forgotten long time ago
…Well, maybe they did not learned it.
- “Internal Power” (No Lik) training
Yes, but not exclusively – in my opinion, many “Masters” get too esoteric just to cover the fact they actually do not know the real, practical and common sense application.
Practical No-Nonsense Usage
Our Practical Hung Kyun looks at “Twelve Bridges” from practical point of view, of course – it means application.
The thing is, you can’t understand the Hung Ga “Bridges” in solo training only. Why is it called “Bridge”? Bridge crosses from one side of the river or valley to the other, connects two sides. Same in fighting. First, there is no contact, but sooner or later a contact happens – either you or your opponent attacks.
Hung Ga Bridging concept is about how to establish a contact, how to deal with a contact, how do dissengage. All” Twelve Bridges” are best explained hands on.
Pavel Macek Sifu explaining Chyun Kiu Entry
Useless Bridging Drills?
Does “Bridging” mean only hand to hand contact? Not necessarily. “Bridging” is any contact between your hands and your opponents body.
Unfortunately, most of the so called “Bridging” drills I have seen are basically just “drills for drills”, with no real transfer to the actual combat and basically useless.
Many “Bridging Drills” look like stiffer variation of very bad Wing Chun “Sticky Hands” (Chi Sau) ot Taijiquan “Pushing Hands” – too much chasing of the hands, and to be candid, waste of training time. Teacher can keep the students busy for years with plenty of such drills (because “Bridge Hands are important in Hung Ga”), but they are not going to learn anything useful.
Practical Example of Hung Ga Bridge Hands (Kiu Sau)
Here is a short example of “Twelve Bridges in practical usage.
Let us say you unfortunatelly got into a argument. You cannot avoid the conflict, you cannot run away, you cannot verbally deescalate it and you know that very soon the other guy will launch an attack, so you decide to deliver a preemptive hard blow – this is your “Hard Bridge” (Gong Kiu).
The opponent is not knocked down and charges in with a tackle. Instead meeting him force to force, you step away and use your Soft Bridge” (Yau Kiu) skills to redirect his incoming force and charge forward and press him to his heels with your short hand techniques (“Pressing Bridge”, Bik Kiu), eg. Po Paai Sau.
He suddenly disconnects, so you immediately charge forward like a released spring with a long hand technique of your “Straight Bridge” (Jik Kiu) arsenal (eg. Fo Jin Cheui), like a loaded spring.
You push me, i pull – you pull me, i push. You disengage, i charge in.
Study the profound theory of “Twelve Bridges”, but strive to apply it in a common sense reality-based applications.
More about Hung Ga Bridge hands in upcoming articles and videos. But – don’t hesitate and start to work on your Bridge conditioning: properly, gradually, and safely, as taught in our PHK Intro Kit.
Pavel Macek Sifu
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