Review of Gary Lam's Back Yard Chi Sao DVD
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Review by: Manuel Bustos
DVD Bought at: http://www.everythingwingchun.com/Gary-Lam-Backyard-Wing-Chun-Chi-Sao-p/gl04.htm
This DVD is a relaxed presentation of Chi Sau. The DVD focuses exclusively on Chi Sau, which also means all elements of Wing Chun forms and theory are present. Presented literally in a backyard the DVD is broken into five short segments of varying length. Within these segments Sifu Lam covers important points of Chi Sau that are not often highlighted, expanded upon or discussed in greater detail. Within the DVD one can witness the speed of Wing Chun exchanges as Sifu Lam shows his both his control and speed. Once can also see the hallmark of Wing Chun - simultaneous defense and offense that is so characteristic of Wing Chun. Sifu Lam also demonstrates some kicking techniques, but not as extensively as the hand techniques. There are some areas in which Sifu Lam deals with grappling. Wing Chun does not have “distinct” grappling, but more like methods of control – at least those lineages derived from Grandmaster Yip Man. Given the nature of the subject, this DVD is more for the intermediate and advanced level students than a beginner. The video is a bit grainy, the sound can sometimes be busy, but the DVD is a very thorough of investigation and coverage of Wing Chun Chi Sau and therefore easily recommended.
“Backyard Chi Sau Series 1” is one of Sifu Lam’s DVDs that deal with Chi Sau. The DVD is broken up into five sections: Pak Sau, Inside Pak, Inside Pak Defense, Changing Hand, and Cover Hand. Once again the idea is not just hitting an opponent, but also control. Sifu Lam states that hitting an opponent is easy, but controlling the opponent’s techniques is much harder.
Within Chi Sau for a student’s given attack the opponent has a myriad of techniques to counter with, but the student can also respond with a variety of techniques – some better than others. Such variations are well explained and shown. These attack, response and counter responses are most effectively covered in the second section of the DVD. Chi Sau is not just hand techniques the legs and thereby the body must also get involved and once again the second section effectively covers these nuances that many students might miss. The idea of the “helping hand” is presented repeatedly.
Many of the exercise are done one way in Chi Sau, but another way when fighting and this is because the technique can be dangerous to one’s partner during Chi Sau. So within practice the total technique is limited for safety. Sifu Lam explains this nuance quite well. Chi Sau is not simply head hunting, but rather sensitivity, good technique, power, proper form and use of the complete body, not just hands as may be thought to be implied.
Chi Sau is an idea that can easily become distorted or better said “dumbed down,” by things like head hunting, or brute hitting without control and subtlety. In this DVD Sifu Lam covers many areas in which a student might err. Sifu Lam is also careful to show that no technique is unstoppable that the student must be relaxed, practice constantly and should never have to stop and think what should be done. This is because if one has to take the time to stop and analyze within the heat of an exchange then it is too late. Sifu Lam demonstrates this rather nicely.
“Backyard Chi Sau Series 1” is a DVD recommended for the intermediate/advanced student. Sifu Lam a few times mentions level three. This should not be misconstrued to say that the DVD cannot be helpful to a beginning student, but that some concepts, techniques and application are would be better understood by either the intermediate or advanced student. Analysis is perhaps the best word used to describe the more intricate applications. Wing Chun is straight forward, but getting to that point may not be quick journey.
The video on the DVD can be grainy at times. At other times the sound is busy. However, the concepts, demonstrations and detailed knowledge that only a long-time practitioner that is highly skilled can elaborate upon show Sifu Lam to be a very high level student of Wong Shun Leung. Kudos should go to Sifu Lam in chronicling the late Wong Shun Leung’s Wing Chun Kuen.
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