This is a single hand chi sau partner exercise, practiced in training stance, same side ie one partner with right hand the other using left hand and vice versa.
Dan Chi is practiced in the open training stance. There is some head high work in Dan Chi, so the open stance is relevant, also it works best if the centre is activated, so we don’t want the centre to be locked down as it is in the basic training stance. The arm not being used is held back with fist clenched as in the SLT.
One partner holds a fook sau position with the forearm in contact with the partner’s forearm held in a tan sau position. There is gentle contact with slight forward pressure. When in the correct position, the partners cannot reach each other with any strikes. This exercise is to train the arms for some of the actions and sensitivity they will need in the contact range. The actual hit requires movement which will provided in the fight by either party or both. The distance between partners is measured out by each holding the relevant arm a fist and a thumb distance forward from the body, and a fist distance between the wrists. Do not allow the common error to occur, which is to shuffle in a bit so as to be able to hit your partner, While satisfying your mind, this will interfere with the work with the arms and make them move inappropriately. If your partner moves in, demand on the correct distance being maintained. This will do you both a favour. There is no contact in single or double dan chi, If there is a hit, the distancing is wrong.
The tan arm is turned and thrust down simultaneously with a wrist snap to make a jut sau action. There is forward pressure in this movement, and it maintains it’s line.
The partner’s fook sau arm responds by sinking the elbow to control, making a jum sau action, also with forward pressure. The line of the forearm is pointing towards the partner’s mouth height, parallel with the centreline.
After an indetermined time, varied each cycle, the jum sau arm makes a punching action. The punch also varies randomly.
The punch may be made towards the solar plexus height, in which case the partner responds immediately with bong sau, deflecting the low strike aside. This is likely the worst place to perform a bong sau from, because the arm is already fully extended, hence the best place to train it from!
Alternatively the punch may be made high to the head height. The change is made by the shoulder to change the structure from low to high as in the Chum Kiu form. In this case the partner challenges the high punch with a biu sau and only reverts to bong sau if and when the biu sau is failing to control the punch and deflect it out. The biu sau then collapses to a bong sau action and deflects the punch aside. This trains our arm to go forward and only bong when necessary.
Whatever happens to the punching arm, it continues to drive out with increasing power as ususal, however, when it is deflected, we allow the deflection to occur. If we are sinking the elbow properly, the punch must be deflected by the bong sau. It is very important to learn and to program into our neuromuscular system the ability to let go of the lateral strength, to allow our punch to be deflected and keep our facing onto the opponent. Dan Chi teaches us amongst other things how to achieve this, so that we will not be turned off our facing if our arm is pushed aside, so that we can launch immediately another strike that drives through the inevitable gap the opponent has made by their own pushing action.
By varying the timing of the actions and the delivery of the punches in Dan Chi, we develop our sensitivity and responsiveness.
A great drill to support dan chi is to have one partner throw a punch and the other uses a slap block to push it aside. The push is varied, sometimes allowing the strike to drive through, sometimes pushing it aside strongly. Either way the punch can be followed immediately with another, but only if the facing is maintained, and this can only be achieved by allowing the punch to go aside when it has been deflected. To struggle is to lose the facing and get hit, instead of letting it go and following through with the next hit.
Dan Chi also teaches and develops the jut sau action used in the trapping exercises and chi sau. When we employ the jut sau, our partner’s jum sau attempts to deflect it inwards towards the centre. We work with our jut sau to hold it’s line and not be deflected. This helps the partner develop their jum sau, and helps our jut to hold it’s line, which makes it much more effective a trap. When the jut is allowed to cross the centre as it turns and drops, we affect the opponent’s arm only, and they can easily give it the slip. When the jut holds it’s line, we affect the opponent’s centre, making it very hard for them to evade, controlling them while we strike with the other arm.
Very noteworthy is that we always train parallel to the centreline. This means that when our arms are in fook or tan, the forearms are straight in line with the centreline or parallel to it, the centreline in this case being, with the partners standing square to each other, a line parallel with the ground and between the two axes, one of each partner.
So, each pair of arms has their own centreline, unless both partners have a great centre, in which case the arms are on THE centreline.
We never cross our wrists in towards the centre, as this teaches a very bad error in positioning and delivery of strikes. If one partner cannot get the elbows in close to the centre, we train parallel to the centre on the line of the worst elbow centre. This allows each partner to train relaxed. Later on, the partner with the poor centre will learn to shift and adapt positioning to compensate for the elbow and it won’t matter in the slightest. The partner with the good centre won’t be programming in any errors, and will develop the centre when training with other partners who have a good centre. Neither lose and both win by training this way.
When training Dan Chi, do it slowly, very slowly and only speed it up as both training partners develop sensitivity and appropriate response.
Training Dan Chi this way, you will always see that it has great value, and will always want to return to this practice.
There is a clip covering Dan Chi and Double Dan Chi on the YouTube channel linked to this website.