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Basic Pak Sao

One of the first defensive techniques that Wing Chun students learn is Pak Sao to the outside of a high punch. Sometimes described as a slapping block or a type of parry, Pak Sao deflects a punch away from your centerline.

A simple way to train Pak Sao is to stand in a neutral stance with double Wu Sau held about a hands length apart, at neck or chest level, about a foot away from your body; and have a partner feed you punches. Pak Sao at about 45 degrees each incoming punch, keeping your hands at roughly the same height as the incoming punches. Only redirect the incoming punch far enough to point at your shoulder. When you make contact with the Pak Sao stick to your opponents forearm, you should be aiming for somewhere between the wrist and the middle of your partner's forearm. Also, make use of Wing Chun structure and have your elbow on the same line between your wrist and shoulder, just like when you execute a punch in Wing Chun. You might want to pull your other Wu Sau hand back and to the center slightly to prevent it from making contact with the deflected punch.

There are variations on Pak Sao but executing it like I just described makes use of a lot of Wing Chun theory. It is very simple and economical, pushing your hand forward at 45 degrees, mostly using your tricep muscle. It is a deflection and so should not require a lot of strength. It covers the center line the entire time and your Pak Sao is in position to block another attack to your center line, or punch and attack your partner's center line. It sticks to your partners arm letting you know what your partner is doing with that arm. You are using Wing Chun structure which allows you to add more power to the Pak Sao if desired.

We often drill Pak Saos like this and add a larger clearing Pak Sao, every few punches, to make space and punch with the other hand down the center line, over the Pak Sao arm. Some students may tend to get in the habit of Pak Saoing the punching hand down and away but this type of Pak Sao loses some of the benefits listed above, and can leave you less protected for an incoming counter-punch.

Adding power to your Pak Sao while well rooted can also direct some force up your partners arm. Against an opponent this can be used to shock and uproot, useful when trying to close or press an attack.

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