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"Principles of Postural Alignment"

By Sifu Mark Rasmus

 

Neutral stance

Many people ask why Wing Chun spends so many hundreds of hours training from the neutral position. There are many good reasons for this. Firstly, most self defence situations are not going to happen in a deeper fighting stance, you must be ready in a natural upright position. It is much better to achieve a strong root in an upright stance than in a deep stance. A deeper stance can offer a false root while a shallow stance shows your true connection to the earth so you can`t fool yourself about where your level of development is.

The deeper our level of relaxation into the earth is, the better our root. Our internal energy system/chi body must stretch down and sink deeply into the earth, giving us connection to gravity and the electromagnetic earth currents in the ground. The deeper our level of awareness of the chi within our body and the earth energies in the ground, the faster our growth and development in Internal Wing Chun.

Postural alignment is the most important aspect of early training. If your body is out of alignment, the chi will be blocked and the techniques will not function as they should. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track.

1. Keep the head up as if suspended from above. This is a classic statement seen in all internal martial arts. This not only helps our posture in day to day living, but also aligns our bodies' energy system with our central axis ensuring a clear flow of chi and connection from the root up the spine to the top of the head. This enlivens the body, stirring the spirit so that chi can flow. The head aligns the energy system and the rest of the body.

2. Relax the face. The muscles of the face should be relaxed. One should gaze straight forward without looks of aggression but rather calmness and serenity. The tongue should be on the roof of the mouth, and the breathing relaxed and natural.

3. Relax the neck. The neck should be soft and flexible, and you must avoid tension while turning.

4. Relax the chest. Pulling the shoulder blades together opens the chest, and then sinking the chest and shoulder blades allows chi to flow to the centre.

5. Relax the back. As the shoulders and chest sink, the back will rise slightly, Keep this relaxed and allow it to sink as well.

6. Relax the buttocks. Keep the buttocks relaxed and rounded. This prevents excess pelvic tilt.

7. Centralise the pelvis and sink the tailbone. Keeping the pelvis central aligns the base centre with the crown, allowing natural chi flow into the legs and throughout the body. Sinking the tailbone straightens the lower back alllowing better energy flow up the spine.

8. Loosen the shoulders. Sinking the shoulders allows chi to reach the elbows.

9. Sink the elbows. Sinking the elbows enhances the chi flow to the centre of the palms.

10. Loosen the waist. The waist should be soft and elastic, as this controls the rest of the body movement. The waist controls the circling and sinking of chi.

11. Relax the legs. If you feel excess tension in the legs during training, relax and sink the tension to the root. The legs will develop more strength and endurance with time.

12. Align the knees and ankles. Keeping the knees aligned with the ankle joints prevents the blocking of chi. Pulling the knees inward should be avoided as this blocks the chi and sends it back up the body preventing a good connection to the earth. The suction in the stance is a byproduct of sinking.

13. Relax from head to toe. The entire body should be relaxed with all tension being sunk into the ground. Relax the pelvis inwards, allowing the pelvic muscles to release. This straightens the back, reducing the excess S-bend in the back, allowing better chi flow up the spine. This pelvic tilt reduces tension in the lower back, allowing incoming force to transfer directly into the ground.

Keeping the back straight is an important part of Wing Chun. Twists and awkward bends catch incoming force which breaks our root/connection to gravity, as well as causing possible personal injury. The Wing Chun practitioner should constantly be connecting their opponents force to the earth, so it can be compressed in our base and reused. Any breaks caused by tension and bad posture in the line from our bridge to the ground should be quickly ironed out. Knowing the points of tension and misalignment in your body is half the battle.

About the Author:

Sifu Rasmus has been practicing Martial arts since the Mid-70's, starting his training in Karate before moving through several different styles, eventually discovering Wing Chun in the mid-80's. Sifu Rasmus has focused his energy over the last 10 years on developing an internal approach to Wing Chun. All his articles are based on his experiences and development, and are not claimed to be traditional, even though many of the principles are traditional concepts. Sifu Rasmus teaches on the Gold Coast in Australia and is available for seminars globally. You may e-mail him at: markrasmus@yahoo.com.au

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