Let’s add one more in our search of analogies for Wing Tsun’s whiplash-like force, fluid and wave-like power, previously explained through old concepts as the "seven joints" or "nine pearls".
Now, another visual analogy would be seeing your body as a coiled spring. Each coil would be represented by one of the body's major joints. A rising step/punch would be the action where the spring extends; a falling step would be the pulling back action.
In Wing Tsun Kung Fu we lift our head up, while trying to point our tailbone downwards. This is similar to Tai Chi's concept of "lift the spirit, flow the chi heavenwards". Doing this action tends to stretch the spine so that the vertebrae are separated as far as possible (good for preventing back pain) and this 'flattens' the lower back. A flat lower back gives the body a much better mechanical advantage in using the hip flexors. These muscles are extremely strong, possibly as strong as either quadriceps (thighs) or lats, and often under-used by martial art practitioners.
This extra leverage and range of movement are shown in the following. Stand straight and turn your torso, many people can turn almost 90 degrees and the move seems smooth and easy. Now bend forwards from your waist so your torso is at about a 45 degree angle. Try turning form this position and you will see that you cannot turn as far, and that the action is not as easy. As far as mechanical advantage, imagine a football lineman bent forwards like this, and he puts out an arm to grab the opponent running by. Stress in this case typically goes through the body, but the weak points are the shoulder, lower back and knees. The joints are not weak per se, but since he is not facing and square and level to the target, there is a far greater shear factor on the joints. The muscles may not be able to hold these extended positions, and injury may occur. In Wing Tsun terms, this misalignment does not allow as much energy transfer i.e. power for hitting.
Also if your back is straight, this allows the stomach, intercostal muscles between the ribs, and chest more room to expand and move, and be involved in adding power to the action (rising punch). Or the opposite, to compress during a falling step/punch.
Your imagination is an incredible tool and can help you shape the success of your training. Without going further into the part of sports psychology in connection with visualization, we simply want to state that old sayings, poetic martial arts terminology at times just has to be unlocked, to produce great training results.
Next week. Join us for a multiple-part series under the title: "When does Self-Defense start? or The very first line of Defense!"
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