When a new students starts at the club keen to learn 'Sung', we usually get into a discussion about relaxation and 'effortless force'. It does not make any sense to them that by relaxing you can generate power. Part of the explanation is that we need to let go of our overworked phasic muscles which were designed for intricate moving. Instead of using then to hold ourselves up, if they are allowed to release and lengthen, the postural muscles can take up the load. This is what the postural system is designed to do, big muscles working at low intensity. For most people, these muscles systems are virtually shut down and so the fast twitch phasic muscles do the work of keeping then upright instead and this causes fatigue. So when they need their muscles to punch, they are already overworked and being pulled in more than one direction.
If you go to a gym they might tell you to strengthen your core, work on you abs. Unfortunately that is rubbish, your abs do little to support your spine and upright posture, the 6 pack are phasic muscles which look great but if held tight can lock up your pelvis. That is another drain on your overworked muscles as one pulls the other in a constant battle. Your core is probably strong enough, you just need to know how to activate it to do the heavy work in order to feel effortless.
Here lies the problem, postural muscles are involuntary; you cannot directly control them. Here is a simple example of an involuntary system: Do a really big cheesy fake smile in front of the mirror. Now imagine your partner walks in and sees you gurning like an idiot at yourself. Hopefully that thought will bring a proper smile to your face. These are two entirely different muscle systems and the signal for both comes from a different part of your brain.
I see wing chun people do a bong sau and I say to myself that is not is a bong sau. It is fake, like a fake smile. They do not know how to connect to the right system. CST called this the copying stage. The wrong muscles overworking themselves and hence the comment from the majority of wing chun practitioners that in a real fight they would never use a bong sau. I do not blame them if that is what they consider a bong sau to be.
CST was famous for his smile and I believe it was actually was part of his system. Most people are pulled down by their thoughts, caught in the wrong part of the brain. When you can smile you release the jaw muscles, the neck muscles, the soft palate rises, the eyes twinkle and the neck is allowed to float on the spine. It can start a chain of release in the body. Sigung was smiling all the time as he was revelling in the majesty of the human body, not just his but his students when they could allow it to work properly. He was able to do this without ego as he understood he was not copying or doing, he was able to give instructions to his subconscious to allow the body to do what it is supposed to. This is what we call Yi and is the cornerstone of CST's method.
So best advice is to lighten up, think up and do not take relaxing seriously. Standing for an hour incorrectly is no different than holding a fake smile for an hour hoping that it will make you happy. It comes from a different place. Training is not an endurance test, is about finding that connection to an idea. A little idea, or Sil Nim Tao as we call it.
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