The one constant factor we all have to deal with is gravity. You can perceive this pulling down as an enemy, as a fight to stay upright, but this is incorrect. Every creature on and plant on earth has evolved to deal with gravity, we are the only creatures which make it a problem by misusing our bodies.
When you stand properly the anti-gravitation muscles which surround your bones are activated. You cannot feel them, you cannot consciously alter them, but you can interfere with them by misaligning other parts of your body. Perhaps our eyes and arms are the problem, because they are orientated the front of the body we are constantly drawn forward and down. Even typing this I am looking down, holding my arms up and putting strainn on my hamstrings and back (I am typing at a stand up desk).
CST wing chun offers us a way to deal with this. The standing practice is there to allow us to shed the unnecessary tension, to allow natural balance and lengthening of the muscles. Your undue tension comes from your mind, no where else; standing gives a chance to stop, to say no to tension. Do this long enough and the body will get more support from the ground and your limbs will feel lighter and looser to you, whilst others will feel your connected body as dense. You can use your conscious mind to influence the subconscious.
How important is standing? Relaxation and standing are a conduit for us to get that up flow through our body, to shed the pulling down. That is more than 90% of what our wing chun is. The forms are there to test that ability when you extend your limbs (does the weight of your arm drag your body down?) and test us whilst we move. Even chi sau is a test of how much we can stay back in ourselves; maintain the state. My aim in chi sau is to maintain the state I have as best as I can, not to beat the opponent. In fact I use the partner to unwittingly help me release up. When you do this well it feels effortless and hitting is easy, that is unless you are drawn in to the target, if you align to the fist you loose all that you have worked on. This is why Sigung had students stand for a year before chi sau; it is so easy to go back to detrimental habits unless we have a clear idea of what we are doing.
People talk about rooting; that is fine if you are a tree. But remember that trees are always going up, branches and roots extending away from each other. That is not tension it is a type of tone. You do not need to push the floor or drill yourself into the earth, the anti-gravitational system of the body has got it covered if you can accept force in the correct way. Even better than using the floor to bounce back force, you can use you body mass to disrupt your opponent so their own system is unable to generate force. But that is only possible if you can do they other bits first.
This way of wing chun, this way of thinking, differs for other wing chun systems. Good for them! If the arm skills are sufficient for their needs and are not causing them long term body difficulties then no problem. Hopefully their methods also allows for improvement and better body use as they get older. A martial arts system that does the opposite is not a fit system of self defence.
So, find some time, find a quite space, let go of your ankles, your knees, your lower back, your tail bone, think up through your spine, think open chest, let your shoulders be supported by the body below it, be supported by the up thrust of the anti-gravitational muscles. Let go of your neck, allow the head to release from the spine, the arms to hand lightly from the back; no tension in the jaw. Don’t pull yourself down, you have no idea of what your body will feel like, its relative shape, when you start to release more tension, so just take up all the space you were born to occupy and give yourself time to release. It is an investment which will pay dividends.
On the request of about everyone who attended this year's gathering in Hathersage, I have preliminary booked the same place for next year. This is the only available date which avoids the Easter and May holidays and will hopefully give us similar weather to what we had last April.
We do not propose any major changes to the format, the last one went really well so if it ain't broke I will not fix it. Although we may have more mini seminars, as I think they are an efficient way to pass on knowledge.
I let the last one get complicated for myself by letting people book with or without food, only one or two days etc, so this time I want to keep it simple for myself. I will keep the price as low as possible, but the venue cost has gone up as will the food as Steve may not likely be around to do his bit. So booking is on the following basis:
- Price is £175 to include 3 days of training, all food and accommodation. Deposit of £40 is needed to secure your place.
- Those who came last time have priority of booking.
- Cost for those not staying but coming each day is £100, including all meals. Deposit of £25 is needed.
- If you want to only come one or two days, let me know but it is likely you will be last on the list as others are prepared to come and participate all weekend and they get priority.
- Numbers will be restricted to 40 attendees with previous experience in CST wing chun. There will only be about 20 staying at the venue, so to not let it get too cramped, so I if more people are travelling I will help sort out local cheap accommodation.
- First come first served, so get your deposit to me ASAP as last year I turned quite a few people away who left it too late. I can do Paypal bank transfer or cash.
Keeping you up to date with what is happening in class