OK, we are back to addressing L‘s following question on the bong sao :-
Though TIMQ gave many answers, bongsao remained a mystery because of the impact angle a tall guy has on a shorter person. I figured early on, its just not possible to use it effectively as a deflecting tool against a significantly taller person. You cant raise the elbow so much without compromising structure, strength or even dislocating shoulder, not to mention constant shoulder pain A Clive Potter video that was posted recently gave me a new perspective on bongsao, which could be used in an angled position (raised palm, whereas elbow remains low in place). While this can work, I figure its mechanic is more related to what is a biu sao, shooting forward and deflecting outwards. Anyways, I try to avoid bongsao to be applied to a tall person the same way as to a short person.
So, have you thought about my question of “why must we use bong sao against a taller person in the first place“?
Before I try to answer it I will examine this question in the context of the Ip Man system as discussed in The Ip Man Question and other Ip Man lineage I have learned before as I understand it.
I have pointed this out before – it is strange that in many, many systems of CMA including non-Ip Man Wing Chun we see a movement that we can term a high block but its absent in Ip Man Wing Chun. Yet, the fact of life is that no two practitioners are the same height and when a shorter person like me go against a taller person odds are I will need a technique to stop the taller person from trying to stick his hand into my face.
Because of the absence of a high block many of us resort to using the bong sao incorrectly to substitute for a high block. As L pointed out correctly you can give up a lot if you use the bong sao incorrectly in this manner. To L‘s list I can add the fact that if you lift the bong sao that high you also risk exposing your body to attack. That most of us don’t realize this is because most of the time our training partner is ignorant of body attacks and when they recognize the opportunity they are not fast enough or expert enough to take advantage of the opening.
If you look at my video Sit Down Push Hands again from 2:33 onwards you can see where even the slightest lifting of my student’s right elbow is enough for me to pop him a quick straight liver shot. In case its too fast or too subtle for you to notice you can see the liver shots at 2:34, 2:36 (this one missed), 2:38 (this was a light one, more like a push) and 2:43 (this last one had a bit of extra to it hence more pain).
I am not sure which Clive Potter L is referring to so I can’t be certain what he is referring too though from the written description it sounded like the high bong sao I used in one of the previous Ip Man Wing Chun styles I learned. If so it would work but there is a certain limitation to it too especially if I am facing my opponent squarely.
Against a taller opponent trying to go across my bridge over the top there are a few possible responses :-
a) One possible response is shown in Illustration 8 – 10 (page 302 – 307), Handling a Taller Opponent in The Ip Man Question (1st edition).
b) Another response is 1:21 in Sit Down Push Hands (note how a movement like this would conform to the requirement of the bong sao principle of “Bong Sao should not remain“). Refer to page 127 The Ip Man Questions (2nd edition) to have a clearer understanding of the change.
c) As L correctly pointed out using a bong sao more like a biu sao may work better. In fact, when you think of it this way why not use biu sao in the first place? Refer to 1:56 in Sit Down Push Hands video. Isn’t this similar to what L is referring to? Deja vu, right?
Some reader may wonder why I am using a push hands video to illustrate chi sao. Truth be told many responses in Taiji are similar to Wing Chun when you look at it. It is only when you are touching hands in person that you can feel the differences in energy when I use Taiji and when I use Wing Chun. Why else do you think so many systems of martial arts share similar blocking motions and principles of body motions. If you look at the way my student is reacting in Sit Down Push Hands you can see he has many motions that resemble bong sao yet he has only learned Karate prior to learning Taiji.
Finally to answer my question – from my practice and reading of bong sao it appears to me that bong sao is not meant to be used as a high block. Instead bong sao is a response to opponent’s attempt to move our bridge arm to the side.
This is also the reason for the verbal transmission of “Bong Sao should not remain” to remind us that bong sao is a transient movement rather than a solid, frozen-in-the-air type of technique.
Trust bong sao remains a mystery to L no more after this post.