It is not just our wing chun or other martial arts which recognise that our habitual tension restricts bodies’ ability to produce effortless power, it is the focus of many none martial pursuits such as yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique etc. A stumbling block we each encounter even before we start a new discipline is that we are already sending signals to our muscles, some conscious, some unconscious and some habitual and our brains are having to interoperate those signals to check if our body is doing as it is told. A problem identified by FM Alexander is that our sense of self is already faulty (he called it debauched kinesthetic awareness); we cannot rely on the sensory feedback we are receiving to let us know if our instructions are working. This is why trying to stand up straight does not work, or pulling your shoulders back. It causes problems for other areas in your body, creates lack of balance and your body soon gets used to it and you do not recognise the damage you are doing.
Alexander created his own technique for dealing with how to ‘use’ our bodies. In wing chun we rely on standing practice, work on the forms and the hands-on guidance of an experienced teacher. This method of cultivating an awareness of our bodies helps release tension and tends to lead to better ‘use’ on its own.
Something I have been interested in over the years is abstract imagery as a way of cultivating muscular release. What this helps demonstrate is that we already have images of how our bodies work imposed on our minds which restrict our movements and sensations. The images might not work for everyone, but sometimes an idea is just enough to encourage a release. In a sense they are not an answer to the problem, but they do help to identify where the problem is.
The images below come either from the Franklin Method, or a book called the Tai Chi Imagery Workbook by Martin Mellish. Imagery has always been used in martial arts, we have snake, crane, monkey styles etc, we also have techniques such as lady looks in the mirror (tan sau in wing chun) or my favorite ‘monkey steals the plums’ (you can work that one out yourself). The idea is not to try to ‘do’ the image, it is to allow the though to enter your mind and body and then allow what release is appropriate. The trick is not to chase the feeling, just use it as a signpost.
Keeping you up to date with what is happening in class