In this article we will discuss the purpose and benefits of a good Wing Chun stance. We will outline some of the common elements that the top masters, despite their differences, have in common.
In martial arts, stances are the distribution, foot orientation and body positions (particularly the legs and torso) adopted when attacking, defending, advancing or retreating. The Wing Chun stance used for the execution of Siu Nim Tao is not exactly a fighting stance but more of a power generating stance. It teaches the practitioner to transmit relaxed power from the ground, through the legs and into the arms and hands.
The stance should not be a dead and rigid structure, but a springy, dynamic state. In time, the structure can more or less be discarded as the internal principles it develops become second nature.
Keys to Success
- The legs should have twisting intent, as if trying to drill into the ground.. There is a spiraling of the legs and feet that places the weight emphasis on the outside of the leg. This is very subtle and should not be overdone. This winding is a method by which we put pressure on the body tissues via specialised stretching and rotation, in order to reduce the “slackness” in the structure.
- Keep the body as one by aligning the spine and the thighs in a straight line. The knees are slightly bent so that they are vertically above the toes. The knees should be kept springy.
- Sit on it. Drop your tail bone slightly as if you were sitting on a high stool.
- Stretch / elongate the spine as if trying to press an imaginary ceiling with the top of your head or else imagine the sensation of the upper body being held up by string.
The 3 joints are used to spring load the stance, much like a sprinter does when at the starting blocks.
Ankles – the ankle is in a state of rotation and flexion to maintain a good connection to the earth.
Knees – The knees are not the source of power, but facilitate the flow of power by being loose, relaxed and slightly bent.
Hips – The hips control and co-ordinate the power of the centre and torso with the action of the legs.
The tendons and the fascia of the legs can be tensioned like elastic rubber bands. This facilitates the transmission of power from the ground. In fact, the Siu Nim Tao form is a type of dynamic Yoga, whereby power is obtained through stretching and spiraling.
Good Posture Keys
• Straight line from the ear through the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle joint.
• The head is centered.
• Shoulders, hips, and knees are of equal height.
• Slight coiling of legs and feet
• Pushing up head and pushing down of tail bone, as if sitting. Keep your weight down.
• Loose and relaxed lower spine
• Knees slightly bent
• Relaxed structure which is flexible and mobile. Not rigid and fixed.
• Weight emphasis is on outside of foot and legs, or Yang channel.
Common Postural Flaws
• Arched lower back
• Excessive anterior pelvic tilt (protruding backside)
• Excessive inward pointing of the toes and clamping of the knees, which places strain on the knees and weakens overall structure.
• Excessive posterior protruding pelvic tilt (protruding abdomen/pelvis)
• Lordosis– The condition is commonly referred to as ‘swayback, saddle back’ or hyper-lordosis. It is an inward curvature of a portion of the vertebral column.
• Rounded Shoulder or ‘Slouch’ syndrome– common in sports with dominant forward motion.
It has been found that the fascia of humans have a similar kinetic storage capacity to that of kangaroos and gazelles. This is not only made use of when we jump or run but also with simple walking, as a significant part of the energy of the movement comes from the same springiness described above.
The purpose of Siu Nim Tao and the Wing Chun stance is to develop spiral / spring energy. It’s like a snake coiling to strike, or pulling back the string of a bow and arrow.
Many arts have similar concepts. Just look at the Muay Thai stance and you will see it allows fighters to essentially load their bodies in preparation for throwing and receiving kicks. A good Wing Chun Stance should allow you to coil the body in a relaxed manner in preparation for an explosion of speed and power.
A good stance will have good lines, much like in dancing. Dancers are required to extend their lines through movements. Creating longer lines is important for the transition steps that take the dancer into the air and is equally important for power generation in Martial arts.
When one knows what to look for, one can distinguish a powerful and correct stance from a mediocre one by observing the lines, the coiling and spring loading of the body. It will look powerful and ready to spring. Ω