What is Fan Sau

Article by Dan Knight added on 3 Aug 2012.

One of the keys to Chi Sau and Fighting

Originally written 5th January, 2007.

Fan Sau – do you know what it means?"

Fan Sau (or returning hand) is an important concept for a Wing Chun Kung Fu practitioner and is used in Chi Sau and sparing, in fact it is essential in higher levels of Chi Sau. Which of course means it is an important aspect of fighting in a real situation, but what is meant by the term Fan Sau?

Well for a basic definition fan Sau describes follow up techniques or 'the continued controlling and attacking an opponent'. Continuation is the essence of fan Sau. For example After performing a Bong Sau to Lap Sau to Fak Sau strike in Chi Sau or real fight situation a few options will present themselves. One thing that may happen is the opponent blocks alternatively he/she could be unable to avoid the Fak Sau strike and get hit by it from this point there are more options. The first option is to do nothing or break away contact [perhaps to attack again]. However as a Wing Chun practitioner this is a bad move as Wing Chun specializes in close contact combat. Further more it could lead to getting hit by a counter, the better option is to perform fan Sau or follow up techniques. I.e. if a block is felt the energy of the Fak Sau should be stopped [immediately switched off] and then changed into a different technique like a lap Sau and palm strike with the other hand if this is blocked one could perhaps lap and fak, but, the point is not what particular technique is performed, but instead, if an obstruction [a block] appears, one should not try to force the attack through instead use fan Sau and follow up with something else.

Therefore when performing Fan Sau you are training a reflex response, at first the practitioner has to think about what to do when contact is achieved however eventually the practitioner will simply respond without thinking, 'he has blocked so I will lap and strike' this comes as a reflex after enough training at that is the purpose of Fan Sau. The idea is that in a real fight one will just react and deal with the situation instead of having to stop and think or analyze the situation as this takes time, and in a real fight it is the fractions of a second that make the difference to getting hit or not and to hitting or not. However when training Fan Sau remember, even if the attack is successful due to Fan Sau, do not stop the attack if the opponent still represents a threat, also don't break away to strike again, instead a sound idea is to use Fan Sau again to control the opponents hand and strike, for example Gum Sau and palm strike then swap over so the striking hand returns as a Gum Sau, and the previous pinning hand strikes, and so on until the desired result is archived.

Fan Sau techniques are to some extent found in the dummy form, for example the arm of the dummy is lapped and a throat chop is delivered with the other hand, then the chopping hand returns to the same arm controlling it with a Pak Sau as the previously lapping hand performs a spade hand strike. Using Fan Sau follow up techniques is essential in Chi Sau and fighting for controlling your opponent and or breaking through any obstacles like hands [for example an opponents guard] or blocks that may get in the way.

"If your Fan Sau is fast you can use it in a fight, but if your technique is bad, it will just be a mess." – Samuel Kwok

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