Learning the Large San Sau (Beginner)

The Large San Sau is one complicated beast. The movements are complex, and unless you’re already very well versed in movement, you won’t be able to do all of the movements, let alone pull off all of the techniques.

So, you have to give yourself a bit of a break, and focus on the techniques and movements that you find easy, the ones you can do and do your best impression of the ones that you can’t.

Having a regular partner to work with also helps. As you progress you’ll develop an understanding of which bits of the san sau you can do well and which bits you’ll have to improvise through. Being cooperative rather than competitive will also help a lot. If your partner knows you’re slow on a particular move, then he or she can play that one slightly slower, to allow you time to actually pull the move off. Over time you’ll get faster and better at it.

I can’t emphasise enough how helpful a regular training partner is. They will be able to give you feedback on how you’re moving, and whether anything is changing from week to week and you should do the same for them.

Lastly, when you’re starting to learn the san sau, don’t worry too much about combat effectiveness, power or being able to “make it work”. Just learn the movements, and get a good flow going. You need to be able to do the movements without thinking about them, because this frees up headspace to work on power, timing etc. Most importantly, it helps keep the practise safe. If you’re always thinking about which move comes next, you won’t really be thinking about that fist coming towards you at speed.

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