One of the more common mistakes seen from the level of beginner and even up to some famous sifus is not having the fingers closed. I won’t claim perfection in this particular area and it’s a common mistake precisely because it’s so easy to become lax on it. The areas of import relating to this particular mistake are not often fleshed out in training.
There are essentially three basic hand configurations in wing chun: fist, palm, and relaxed. The last is reserved almost exclusively for bong sao and huen sao. Besides these two and the fist almost all other hand configuration save for a few use the open palm and they all require that the fingers be closed and slightly tensed. To be closed is not enough, there must be a slight tension in the palm and the fingers. To do this by squeezing the fingers together does not create tension in the proper places and you will forget about it easily. The thumb is the key. Close it and pull it as far down toward the wrist as possible. This will straighten the fingers, keep them together, and create the proper tension.
Now on to why this is important. Most of the blocking hand configurations like wu sao and gan sao for example, will require the fingers to be closed in case they are hit and to avoid them being broken, to avoid them being grabbed and broken, and to avoids the hand crumpling. Tan sao requires that the fingers be closed and tensed as it creates additional support and solidity in the forearm. Without it the structure is not as sound and the muscles will be loose. Blocking with tan sao when the fingers are wrong is like taking a leg kick when the muscles are loose. Additionally in any chopping motion if the fingers are not straight and tensed properly the hand will crumple if it is used forcefully.
Make sure you do this properly from day one. It is the small details you must pay attention to if you expect to be great in any martial art. Many sifus and many students do not pay attention to this particular detail but it is as important as any kick, punch, block, or step in wing chun and cannot be disregarded.
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