Double Dan Chi is a two person training exercise, extremely valuable in developing structural strength and an understanding of how structure works for us.
Double is practiced in the open training stance, toes turned in slightly and a little forward pressure in the core. The partners stand at a distance such that the forearms are working with and against each other. At this range, contact cannot be made with the strikes. There is no movement in the stance.
One partner holds a high fook sau with one arm, a low flat palm up position with the other. The other partner matches this with a bong sau and a low fook sau in contact with and outside the low palm.
Action begins with the low palm arm turning to deliver a down and forward jut sau with wrist snap. The partner responds with a jum sau, sinking elbow to control and deflect the jut. In this instance, the forearm is horizontal and parallel with the centre, wrist relaxed ready for a wrist snap. From the jum sau, a low sinking punch is delivered to solar plexus height, gun sau, to which the partner responds with a low flat twisting tan sau looking action, which better relates to a low twisting punch under the ribs.
These two strikes fight for the centre, the sinking wrist snap action vs the twisting action, both with extreme forward pressure. It is the vertical fist punch vs the horizontal fist punch. Both should control each other, ie the wrist snap nor the twist are ever completed.. unless one partner has better structure and chooses to win. Best practice is for the senior student to put enough pressure for the junior to develop their structure, but not to break them.. except for every now and then.. everyone needs to know their place!
After experiencing this pressure for a few seconds, the arms are rolled over to the opposite position and the actions trained again with roles reversed.
Usually this is practiced 30 or 50 times and then the arms swapped so each partner trains both sides.
At high level, the Double Dan Chi becomes a game of forcy-backs, with each partner trying to drive the other backwards across the kwoon. It’s a great game, very demanding, and develops the structure like nothing else can.
Another valuable way to practice Double is at the head height. In this practice, the palm up arm is held in a true tan sau position, not low and flat. The corresponding fook sau is high, relating to the head high work, with the shoulder arranged appropriately. From tan, a palm strike is delivered to the mouth height, and the partner responds by sinking the elbow to the centre with a high elbow jum sau to control and deflect the incoming strike. At an indetermined and variable time, the jum sau arm delivers a punch to the mouth height, which the partner attempts to control and deflect with a true twisting tan sau action. As with the low Double Dan Chi, these two actions cancel each other, with the tan never completing it’s twist and the punch never completing it’s wrist snap.. unless one wins.
The arms are then rolled so each can practice the other part, but in the head high double there is a difference. Instead of rolling to a bong sau, the arm simply goes into a ready position.. ready to biu, ready to bong. There is value in this, and also it keeps the arm out of the way for the other arms to do their stuff. Also we’re learning not to punch under our own arm, which is not a great idea, as we can then easily trapped.
Training Double Dan Chi at the head height develops structural strength and responsiveness where we’re going to need it.. most people punch to the head.
In Ving Tsun we train for softness, to use the opponent’s strength against them especially when they are stronger than us, but even better if our structure is so strong that it is not deflected and we simply win through in the first instance. Yes we train to make our weaknesses work for us. We also train to make our strengths work for us. Double Dan Chi is where we develop our structural strength.
The change of arm positions in Double Dan Chi introduces us to the rolling action of poon sau, which we begin as soon as double has become familiar. There is no need to ‘perfect’ double before going on to poon sau, because we will always be practicing and developing our Double Dan Chi, along with everything else in the entire system.
The idea of perfection is anathema to Ving Tsun Kuen. As soon as we accept that any of it is perfect it stops improving. All of it must be open to improvement, always. None of the system is beyond the reach of the scientific process.
Double is a great game in itself, and will be a practice we will wish to return to each session, one which will continue to offer it’s gifts throughout our training career.
There is a clip covering Dan Chi and Double Dan Chi on the YouTube channel linked to this website.