Trapping is an elementary chi sau exercise.

Trapping training is best continued throughout one’s Ving Tsun career. It’s best not to treat this as a basic exercise that can be forgotten once we are doing chi sau. None of the VT system is like that. Everything is in the system for a reason.

Trapping training will continually offer benefit to your chi sau no matter how advanced you get. The trapping itself will continue to improve over years.

The traps are to teach us how to trap someone’s arms, holding their two with our one, leaving us a free hand to hit with. Trapping also teaches us how to capitalise on someone trying to trap our arms so that their action will only work against them.

We train jut sau and various defences. The jut is down, with forward pressure and along the centreline. The jut grabs their centre via their arm and levers them towards us while we simultaneously punch. Normally when the forearm is held in a horizontal position eg in a karate raising block or bar arm, when pushed down the arm swings in towards thebody, because the arm is fixed at the shoulder and the upper arm is a fixed length, so when the arm moves down, it must swing in. When we jut, we have our wrist over their arm, so that when we jut downwards, our wrist hooks over their arm and prevents it from swinging in towards their body, but the distance between their arm and their body must close, so they are drawn towards us at the same rate that we jut down. This serves to pull them into the range of our simultaneous punch. This teaches us how to control them when they cross their arms, and by training the defences we learn how to use it to our advantage when our arms are trapped.

Lap sau training teaches us various responses to our arm being grabbed and pulled. The nature of the pull determines our response, by feel. In our training, we don’t grab the opponent’s arm, but latch with a hooked wrist. This leaves us free to change to a strike or whatever depending on what is happening. To grab early places our wrist in a vulnerable position and makes for a weak grip. If we wish to throw the opponent down, we grab later in the movement.. latch first, then grip to pull. In trapping, when defending against lap sau we are responding to a grab and pull with a punch also coming our way. It’s not a good idea to bong sau to catch a punch when someone has grabbed that arm. Bong is good to ruin their grip by the twisting of our arm in the bong sau action, but it is not good to try to catch the punch with the bong. If the opponent is quick, or bigger and stronger than us, it’s not going to work unless they are being compliant. More likely our bong arm will be trapped in a way that can dislocate our shoulder quite easily and render us vulnerable to further attack. Locking our waist to defend lap sau vs a strong and determined opponent is not a good idea either, as our entire structure can easily be compromised. Instead, we move in in a way that does not involve struggle, and works no matter how big and strong they are. Lap sau training also teaches us how to flow from various positions to use lap sau to grab their arm and turn or move them, usually while striking. There are other lap sau responses that we train in applications training, involving different steps and turning actions. They are also trained on the dummy and in the air dummy forms. These are related to lap sau from out of position, and don’t relate to the chi sau training.

Pak sau is trained on the inside, and like most of the stepping training we do this because it makes our action work harder, then when we use pak on the outside it is easier. We do also train to use pak on the inside, on the proviso that we can trap both their arms with our pak sau arm.

The pak is trained to control, step and punch simultaneously.

The pak sau defences have to be smooth and immediate, very efficient and direct.

We usually use quan sau to defend pak on the inside, unless our fook sau works, and hit from the quan with a chop to the neck or palm straight through off the tan hand, depending on the range. The low arm is used to control them and keep them turned.

We roll in such a way as to allow trapping to occur. Keeping the elbow in with the fook sau, and the elbow inside the body line with the bong sau makes the wrists cross in the rolling. This makes us vulnerable to the jut sau attack.. it is an invitation for our partner to jut. It must be so, for poon sau is a training exercise, not fighting. We must place ourselves in a vulnerable position in order to learn how to escape from it. We keep the tan elbow in on the centre too, and this makes it easy for a pak sau hand to open up the centre by pushing our fook arm out while controlling our tan arm. This way we can learn how to escape from the trap and capitalise on the situation. If we were to roll with the elbows out and the wrists in, we are never really vulnerable to traps and so will never learn how to escape them. By having a fighting attitude to the training, we are not even training to fight! Training is training, and we need to understand this. Training this way, we can learn to see and/or feel very small errors in our partner’s rolling which will make it harder than normal for them to escape our traps. This way we develop our sensitivity and will be able to control our opponent and strike through at the slightest opportunity.

We train for the fight. We train to win the fight. But when we are training we are not fighting. Mixing up training and fighting causes a myriad of errors and interferes with the whole process.

The more trapping we do as a practice in itself, the more we will be controlling and finding a way through in chi sau. Trapping is a part of our VT we train every session.

Dave Jardine


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