It is not a leap of faith that I ask from the reader, that only a handful selected can achieve sticky hand ability.  The fact is anyone can learn to do it, however often times its mimicked to look like one has the skill, but rarely is that individual actually achieving the end result.  Clarification needs to be a top priority when understanding the drill known as chi sao or sticky hands, and what one hopes to achieve.  Sticky hands has nothing to do with the ability to stick to people, but this is the misconception that is often unfairly tagged with the wing chun practioner.  Wing Chun is the most efficient art in what it does, and that’s for killing.  And, to believe the art’s most distinguishable exercise is to teach one to chase hands and be defensive, seems more then misguided.  The bottom line, is that sticky hands is to develop the skill to make people stick to you. 
So, how does one make an opponent stick to you?  To understand the skill one has to understand the strategy  of the wing chun  fighter.  In a fight situation, our goal is line domination.  If you can picture two fighters fighting on a tightrope, our only concern is the center line.   Because we are fighting on that tightrope our only option is simply to go straight.   The wing chun fighter needs to control that line at all cost, and if he dominates it he destroys the opponent going through him or forces the opponent to try to come around, either way he plays our game.  While the centerline is our focus, the triangle extending from our body with both our hands is the battlefield.  Just like a spider captures its prey, the similarities of the wing chun practioner are almost identical.  A spider lays down its web and the victim enters its area.  You’ll never see the spider, go chasing the prey or shooting its web to capture it, but just patiently leaves its web.  The triangle structure of the WC fighter is no different.  If the opponent wants to hit us, he has to go down the centerline.  If he chooses to go around the centerline, our job is made even easier, by simply attacking straight and beating him to any kind of flanking attack.  Now, if he goes down the centerline, our hands function as the web/triangle and intercepts any attack that is thrown.  Now that we touched briefly on the strategy  of how we fight, we can actual enter the detail of what the hands are doing next.
Just because ones hands are touching doesn’t necessarily mean one is doing sticky hands.  To create the stick, certain key ingredients are needed to make things happen.  First, technique leads to structure, and wing chun has a variety of hand motions to deal with any angle of force coming into the triangle.   Thus, think of every hand technique as a tool specifically designed to deal with a certain situation.  The chi sao exercise teaches the practioner when’s the correct time to use a hand technique from one of the 3 families of tan, bong, or fok.  Just like a carpenter must know when a hammer, a saw or a screw driver is needed for the right job.   The guard hands forming the triangle is called jong sau, and when it meets the oncoming force, the tension in both hands must be set correctly.  Tension should not be misinterpreted as muscle, but the ying/yang of holding ones hands to tightly or the opposite to relaxed.  Find the correct balance and one allows the energy to flow.   Muscle, misalignment of technique, or bad stance will prevent you from using the most of this energy.  Don’t forget, that wing Chun is an internal art, we need structure, not muscle in order to utilize the energy.  To create the correct tension in the jong sau one must know the structural break down of the arm.  3 main joints are involved, that being the wrist, elbow and shoulder.  The index finger is of primary concern and should shot straight, allowing it to be the last stage for one to release the energy.  At the same time the elbow must be naturally sunk, and finally the shoulder should stretch out from the body structure.   Doing all 3 correctly is like aligning the pipes so that the water can naturally flow. 
Assuming the correct hand tension is set, three things occur upon the force of the contact meeting ones hands:  equalize/neutralize,  Cutting Edge, and send back.  
The idea of equalize and neutralize is the process of simply touching and catching  Thus, if I were to throw, a balloon, an egg, or a bowling ball, each one must be caught in its own particular way .  All force regardless of how little or how much must first be met head on.  Take the egg for example, the point of contact is the equalization, however if I were just to grab it with out neutralizing after the touch I would immediately break the egg.  This in its simplest stage is where one learns how to listen to the amount of force that occurs.  All things involve a balance, once you can listen to the force, you can then control that force.
Now that one has made contact and neutralized the force, the next stage involves the cutting edge.    Cutting edge is the process of adjusting hand position so that opponent, literally cuts into your hand structure.  When one practices wing chun, the main hand motions of tan, bong, and fok sau are used, and in this developmental drill, all points of contact are done bone to bone.  Thus, when an attack is thrown into the triangle, the hands function as knives.  If I were to hold a knife at the correct angle, and someone threw an apple at it, upon contact the apple would cut into the knife.  Our job is simple, hold the knife at the correct angle and let opponent do the rest.
Finally, if the first two stages are done correctly, you then achieve send back.  By holding my hands in the right position and creating that cutting edge, my opponent is literally using muscle against himself.  Its not different from the apple which is already cut into my knife, further pressing itself deeper into the cut. 
Once all 3 phases have been done, you are literally making your opponent stick to you.  This skill which is difficult to develop is also incredibly necessary.  Without it, you’ll end up looking like the majority of fighters who simply end up exchanging blow for blow, and whoever gets lucky will eventually get the hit.  The wing chun practioner is no gambler, his mentality is that of a sniper, in that he neither exposes himself for a hit, but at the same time puts himself in optimal position to go for the kill.  The ability to make people stick maybe used for only 1 brief moment, in order to allow yourself that clear line of attack.
Written by Sifu Ed Cruz
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