Applying the Man Sao
by Rien Bul
The secret behind successfully bridging the gap to the opponent is called Man Sao, or "asking hand". This technique is like an antenna that gathers information on the opponent’s intentions and is the basic shape that changes into all other Weng Shun Kuen techniques that are called for during a confrontation, such as Bong Sao, Tan Sao, Fook Sao, etc. In fact, all these standard techniques are just different variations on Man Sao which are created by the different kinds of pressure an opponent puts on it.
As a rule, we always throw our hand toward whatever is coming at us in a loose, whip-like motion, preferably with the back of our hand towards it. This is the technique we call Man Sao, which accords to the principle "If you see form, strike form. If you see shadow, strike shadow."
If the opponent hits hard enough to make the Man Sao collapse, just turning your elbow up will turn it into a Bong Sao, which is just a transitional movement ("Bong Sao does not remain.") between Man Sao and Lop Sao. When applied correctly, the opponent will feel like you’re not standing there at all.
When the Man Sao does not collapse, it will redirect the opponent’s technique off the center line, away from you and leave his side open to attack. Most of the time you need only a Lop Sao (which will get him even more off-balance), or just one step, to position safely at his side and finish him.
When at his side, don’t forget covering his elbow. Placing one leg at the back of his will prohibit him from turning around. In this safe position you will be able to choose a finishing technique or you can keep him in an arm lock with no chance of him getting out.
A Man Sao should be thrown at the attack without the use of muscular force, which is a taboo in Weng Shun Kuen anyway. You don’t need strength to redirect the attack. Moreover, with a "soft" Man Sao you will be much more able to feel which way his force is going. After all, that is why you learned Chi Sao.
There is one more quality your Man Sao needs: interruptability!
You may choose to use the Man Sao as a feint also. If, for any reason, you can’t afford to wait for an attack, lure the opponent into making contact, for contact is the real starting point for every Weng Shun Kuen attack. Throw your Man Sao to his eyes (it now looks like a Bil Jee/Sae Sao) without intention of attacking. It’s just a feint, remember? Don’t feint too fast. An opponent must get the chance to intercept. Although it looks like you’re going for the eyes, you are really forcing him to protect them. After establishing contact, you proceed in standard Weng Shun Kuen fashion. This is another reason why a Man Sao-technique must be interruptable.
And why is the Man Sao so important in bridging? Well, it’s a lot safer and easier to apply and much simpler to learn than relying on timing. It is really somewhat of a lost art and one of the oldest techniques within Weng Shun Kuen. Your system isn’t complete without it.