Wing Tsun footwork is profound, absolutely unique, and very effective because it's just so logical. Yet, many wing tsun students, and even instructors, fall into the "chi sao trap" (or the lat sao trap, or whatever).
What is that trap?
The "chi sao trap" is the tendency of wing tsun people to spend more than 90 percent of their time on practicing either "chi sao" or "lat sao" or some other form of middle-distance fighting drill. They only too often forget that, in order to use the skills you develop that way, you first have to GET THERE.
None of your wing tsun is going to be any good to you if any long distance fighter can take you out with his kicks and punches. That's just a fact of life. Why waste all of that time and effort in practicing something that's so awesome if you can't even use it? Why set yourself up in a situation where any kicker or puncher can make a fool of you in a full contact situation?
Avoiding the Trap
Traps only work if you don't see them and don't know about them. How do you avoid a known trap? Just don't step into it.
Now that you know about the chi sao trap, all you have to do is to train yourself to develop that distance-feel that comes only from live fighting. If you don't, it's your own fault if your stuff won't work for you when it counts.
1. Don't Offer A Target
Get a partner and have him assume a normal fighting stance with one leg forward, your weight about 60/40 or 70/30 on the front leg, arms raised to the chin and the head tucked in and slightly forward so the chin is covered.
Now, assume the exact same position in front of him so that both of you can touch each other with an outstretched punch. Comfortable? You shouldn't be. That's the distance from which any fighter can and will hit you if you let him get there without making him pay for it first.
Instead, conduct an experiment: from that position, transfer your weight all the way to the rear leg and keep your head directly above your shoulders without tucking your chin in.
Now, without you having moved your feet at all, he can no longer reach you with his punch. If he wants to hit you, he has to make at least a half step in. That gives you a split second advantage - but your advantage is not complete yet. Your attacker can still kick you without first having to move in.
Now take your front leg and place it about should-width apart from your rear leg so your former foot has the same distance from your attacker as your former rear leg foot. From this position, your attacker can neither kick you with his front leg nor punch you with either arm without first making a step - but he can still kick you with his rear leg.
If you ever find yourself in this distance from an attacker even for a fraction of a split second and you haven't moved in yet to take him out, you will get knocked out in a real fight. Stationary targets are easy to hit, and you're in range. That's bad news!
2. Turn the Table
If you're in range and you don't want to be a target, you only have two choices: run or fight.
If you run, you embolden your attacker, and you're not in a competition, so dancing away a la Muhammad Ali isn't the answer, either. You really only have one choice: attack!
By attacking him before he attacks you, you take away his mojo. He thought you were a victim, but now you are right in his face and you're not letting up. That messes him up.
3. Use Your Footwork
There is no better way to explain what that footwork is and how to use it than to make you watch the following video.
There are of course lots of other things you can do in wing tsun, but this "arrow step" is the foundation for them all - and this is even more true for the fighting attitude it teaches.
Here at Houston Wing Tsun, we pay special attention to this stage of combat - because we don't want you to fall into the "chi sao trap."