Be Your Own Bodyguard ... and Walk Away Alive




The Pak Sao is Chinese for Slap Hand and it is pronounced Pah'k Sss'ow.

The term "Slap Hand" is very simplified but also very accurate. The hand is used in a powerful slapping motion to drive your opponent's arm away from its direction towards you.

The slapping motion is when you use your palm to hit anywhere on the arm. Ideally the hit is done in the upper forearm but can be done on the wrist or even the hand as it comes towards you. The hit is used mainly against an oncoming punch but also when the two fighters have their forearms entagled or when squaring off to fight.

The reason the upper forearm is best is because it has the least chance of continuing a punch after being deflected by the Pak Sao/Slap Hand. A good classical stylist, someone strong in Wing Chun or similar, can feel the punch being deflected and using the immobile elbow theory, circle around and come back in to resume the punch. This is more possible when the hand or wrist or lower forearm was hit by the Pak/Slap. When these are hit the lower arm below the elbow simply continues to move in the direction it was hit until completing a full circle and then resumes its punching attack.

However, when the upper forearm is Pak/Slapped, more of the entire arm is sent reeling away and has significantly more area to move in its circle. This buys you, the Pak/Slapping fighter, time to do your next move.

Depending on the fight and the fighter, you may attack or immobilize your opponent. For most fighters this would be an attack. For others it may be a trap or a grappling move.

When you are in a right or left lead stance, the Pak Sao/Slap Hand is very useful because it is closest to the oncoming attack. Your lead or front hand is out in front and ready for action, covering your center.

The rear hand can perform the Pak/Slap but for almost everyone - if not everyone - it is defininately slower in response due to eye-hand coordination. The slower response is something you cannot afford in hand to hand combat so you should use the lead hand as the main use of the Pak/Slap Hand.

The Pak Sao/Slap Hand can and is used in a neutral stance where you face your opponent head on (chest to chest/face to face). The neutral stance does not have a lead foot so either hand can be a lead or they may remain neutral allowing both hands equally capable for the Pak/Slap action.

In classical styles the neutral stand is used frequently when opponent's have both of their own arms entangled with each other. Also, when boxer's get in close, which they do by the nature of their own fight, they "tie up" and the forearms are scrapping against each other, struggling for the punch. In any of these situations, the defender uses a forearm to deflect or block a punch and the other hand uses the Pak/Slap to force the other's forearm out of the way creating an opening for a punch. Here the Pak/Slap is done on the inside forearm which drives the forearm outwards.

The Pak Sao/Slap Hand is similar to a Boxer's Parry except the Parry isn't as "classical" or "formal" by being so perfect in its beginning or delivery. This means the hand doesn't need to be so rigid and the fingers and thumb so pointed upward. The Parry is more relaxed.


The hand is pointing straight up, perpendicular to the ground. The palm faces inward to the body, looking like one hand of a prayer. The fingers are straight up and the thumb is tucked into the hand just under the first, index finger. The elbow is straight down, tucked in and covering the center.

The hand moves inward, across the body to strike the incoming attack (usually a punch but it can be anything) with a powerful slapping by using the palm area. The palm is the strongest point. If the fingers are uses they may bend backwards in the strike. If the thumb is opened or away from the hand it may be pulled out of place and permanently ruined!

The hand immediately returns to its starting place, ready for another action. This is invaluable when a fighter throws a speedy barrage of jab-crosses because you will be ready for every punch.

This defensive move is very useful against the straight in attacks of the jab and the cross. It is not limited to just these, though!







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...Sifu Mike