Basic Aspects Of Wing Chun

Jeffrey Colbert (2/2004)

Over and over again I've heard these words (just use the basics), but that is not as easy as it may sound. Everyone in the class at the time will think that it means this, or that and not really understanding what they should be trying to do. I know I've been confused. Here I am thinking that I was doing the basics but not having any effect on the other person. Or feeling under pressure and starting to panic during Chi Sau. So what are the basics? For me the basics are the foundation of Wing Chun. The four quarters of the whole, the building blocks by which all else is made. They are structure, tei gong, focus and centre line and for me it is best to start with my structure.

The back must be straight; this is done by letting my spine straighten itself not the muscles trying to straighten it, because they will actually tense and this will cause the back to be held. As we all know the abdominal muscles are what support the spine. If I can let them relax so as not to hold the spine in place I will actually get rid of this (and I don't have to worry I know that I won't fall over). I also find that the other aspects of Wing Chun such as tei gong, focus and centre line control will be the off shoot of this and that the joints will fall into place and move freely.

Tei Gong is a feeling more than anything else which can be achieve by aiming my rectum at the top of my head. This then links the skeleton so as to give me the correct structure. Aiming is the key word here because I am not doing anything physical; it is a mental process that results in the Tei Gong feeling. If I try to make it a physical exercise the result will be a form of holding and the flow of energy will be blocked.

I believe that Focus is another basic part of Wing Chun. If I am able to do the first two well then once I add focus to my repertoire I find that my ability to deal with an opponent's force will seem effortless. So how do I do it? By using my peripheral vision to encompass my opponent's body, I don't stare at a point on the opponent's body; this will cause a form of mental holding. By using my peripheral vision I will be relaxed and can let my mind's eye focus on the target. By doing this I can learn to generate rotational force towards my opponent.

Centre Line Theory is another aspect of Wing Chun that I need to understand. When the limbs move, at some point the centre line will be intersected by the arm, leg or body. The Centre Line is an imaginary line that comes from the centre and radiates outwards to what ever distance is need depending on the level of training. The Centre Line is not a small beam like line but is a vertical line from head to toe. This then allows the legs to intersect it as well as the arms. Controlling the Centre Line is only possible if all of the aspects are working as a whole.

These are the basic aspects of Wing Chun and they all have one common thread running through them and that is they are not forced physical actions but a way of thinking that leads to the reactions within the body. So the key is "Right Thinking" that's what makes it all work. The other thing to remember is that it can take a long time to change our thinking. So being patient and working on each aspect, slowly evolving our understanding is of the greatest benefit in our training. Once I feel that the aspects are working, the next step in my training is to know that the aspects make the whole. Remember "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". By this I mean that if one or two aspects are working: i.e. centreline and say focus, I will find that some of my Chi Sau will work really well on some people and on others I will be under pressure and on the back foot all the time. This is because they will be using an extra aspect or two. So if I can use all the aspects of Wing Chun I feel that my Chi Sau is effortless. This is one of the key elements of Wing Chun; that it should be effortless and that it should use minimal force. This can only be done if all of the aspects are working as a whole. Thus "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts".

One point that I feel I should talk about in looking at the aspects and that I mentioned earlier is right thinking. As I said all the aspects have this common thread, that of a mental process not a physical action. If I try to apply the aspects and yet keep moving my thoughts from one aspect to another I'm doing what my Sifu calls on-off, on-off thinking. This type of thinking is also what will cause a physical action of some kind (thus holding). This will keep me always wondering if I've got it or not. Trusting that it will work for me and giving myself permission to let go of my doubts and just doing it is a key point. In giving myself permission to just do what I have to do and releasing my mind from its wondering, I stop the on-off, on-off thinking and I just do Wing Chun.

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