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The Stance

Source: Internet Forum - published on 05 October 1998

By Sifu Barry Lee

Barry Lee...

Sports medicine in particular is a fairly young science and by no means has all the answers. In fact much can still be learned from martial arts in particular, which have been around for a very long time. We often seek to overcome the basic laws of physics and we can still teach modern medicine a thing or two.

The stance in particular, if done correctly is more likely to relieve pressure on the spine and correct many back problems while at the same time strengthening the muscles which support the spine. It builds strength in the ankles, legs and waist. The waist controls the generation of power, the direction of force and energy, angles of attack and defense, absorption of impact, the speed of your step, balance, control, centre of gravity, facing and control of your centre line and much, much more. You cannot afford to lose this position and if you do you must be able to retrieve it in an instant.

If you feel pressure in the knees then you are most certainly standing incorrectly. Do not put your weight in your knees or you will never be able to step quickly, never be able to use the waist to propel you forward. You will ultimately "telegraph" your movement when you step backward and will find yourself dragging your rear foot when you step forward. You will have an incorrect centre of gravity while standing still and when you kick and will be easily decimated by a kick to either your front or your rear leg. You will never properly control a sudden onrush of power by your opponent and often will be driven into the ground instead of being able to step or change direction easily.

The stance is meant to place controlled tension on the joint areas. Those areas easily damaged by quick changes in direction particularly when under pressure from an opponent always trying to force you away from your centre, in other words to force your weapon and with it you away from your intended target. Form of isometric training if you like which creates great strength in the ligament and tendon areas of the knees and ankles not to mention the related muscle areas.

If you cannot hold this toe in stance for long without your feet straightening, then you will not be able to keep your feet in correct position when you step. You will open your centre to attack, you will drag your back foot and your kick will not be spontaneously delivered from any angle at any time either while standing or in motion and most importantly you will often find your waist incorrectly positioned. If you have your back foot turned either out or in incorrectly a kick to the front leg from the right angle will cause both legs to collapse and you will lose you centre in the bargain.

It's an amazing thing but this toe in stance creates a particular tension through the legs, on the most important areas of the waist and back and in the internal muscle groups of the abdominal wall. Without this tension in the ankle you would find it almost impossible to learn and feel the correct tension required for balance and strength throughout your stance.

Also please remember there is much I have left out.

The Ving Tsun Stance is not a normal body position. We spend our whole lives standing and moving in another way. Do you think that by standing in this stance for a limited period each day or perhaps three training days a week that the body will be able to retain this position or retrieve it instantly when is under the extreme stress and pressure of a real fighting situation.

Often one hour is all students have today in which to train this stance due to the commitments of work and family etc. and they also want to go on to other things. That I am saying is that you should not be in a hurry to proceed and overlook what is a fundamental and most important part of your Ving Tsun training. Without the roots, without the foundation the first good wind will uproot the tree. From the outset, by standing for extra long periods in this stance, you build correct balance and control of the body, the ability to feel and draw energy from the ground, the ability to feel and control your waist, not your waist controlling you, the ability to hold the correct foot position by training and stretching the related areas. You are taught the fundamentals of distancing of the feet, direction of your step, the basis for easy natural kicking, a stance that will not easily allow the legs to sink when tired. The ability to face and control your centre and basis of Lut Sao and everything that Siu Lim Tao teaches us, which is considerable etc, etc, etc.

Lastly and for me very, very important, is something overlooked almost totally today by most who train in Ving Tsun particularly those who train to fight. Standing for very long periods in this stance builds a strength of mind and body which is a very hard combination to defeat. If you can pass through the period where the boredom sets in, pass through the burning legs and total body soreness that turns ice cold and steel your mind to the pain you will eventually really begin to feel everything that your body is doing and you will truly be in control of your body not your body in control of you.

If your will cannot be broken you often cannot be beaten. Then your arms are so tired you can no longer hold them up, then a particularly hard punch or kick really shakes you mentally as well as physically you will find yourself drawing on reserves you never knew you had and in a controlled balanced manner, because the body knows automatically what is expected of it. It is conditioned to hold or take the correct position particularly with the waist without the need for undue strain because your training has made it such a natural position that the surrounding muscles no longer have to try to hold it.

I have seen many fights won by strong minds that just would not give in and many recoveries from almost certain defeat because of instinctive reaction and a body that automatically positioned and balanced itself correctly.

There are many other aspects to your Ving Tsun that encompass a lifetime of learning and the Siu Lim Tao stance is only a small part, but without the stance there is no Siu Lim Tao. Without Siu Lim Tao there is no Ving Tsun. Siu Lim Tao is not fighting but it is a much more important step than many believe, not only to your understanding but to everything you will be asked to do in the future.

If you do not give Siu Lim Tao and this stance the time it deserves, nothing else will work for you with maximum efficiency. You will never really understand your Ving Tsun and each new movement will be harder to perform correctly. Perhaps you never will know or understand true Ving Tsun.

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