I recently posted an article to our Facebook group about the structural alignment of the spine for internal martial arts and how the idea of relaxation is easily confused with collapsing into the structure. The key seed of Chu Shong Tin wing chun is a release of the whole spine from the tip of the tail bone to the top of the head, which allows an expansion between each vertebrae. Instead of a collapse, the body can gain its full length as the joints are allowed to free and separate. This method is only possible if a student is willing and able to devote sufficient time to their standing and Sil Lim Tao practice.
I am a big fan of Bruce Lee and like most people who train wing chun I would not have started in the art if it was not for him. However, if you look at the pictures below you can see that at an early stage of his training his idea of relaxation and structure had caused a collapse of his chest, a rounding of his shoulders or winging of his scapulae. What he would have had is a very strong structure in a single direction, but someone like Ip Man would have easily been able to manipulate his balance and strike him from any direction. If he had continued training in this manner he would have suffered from a rounded upper back in later life and a compressed lower spine. I am sure that Bruce Lee himself realise these issues and in fact his genius was to gain a full understanding of the human body by hard work and research until he was able to remake himself and found his own martial art. He only studied wing chun for 2 ½ years, but later on in life he was able to expand the principles of the art and fill in the weaknesses he perceived.
To reiterate, the point of this article is not to criticise Bruce Lee, it is to show the idea or relaxation can easily be misunderstood, especially when people are in a hurry to move on and progress in their training. When rolling (poon sau) there is nowhere to hide from a direct incoming force, you can either step back, push back or learn to disperse the force by proper use of the stance. The later is the most difficult, but the reality is that you cannot run from force forever and if you fight muscle with muscle you are likely to lose if an opponent is bigger than you. Standing practice helps us learn to stop fighting the pull of gravity, once we understand that we can apply the same idea to dealing with forces from any direction.
Keeping you up to date with what is happening in class