Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

CAN SOFTNESS STOP A HARD PUNCH?


IS THERE SUCH A THING AS SOFT FORCE?

Eventually this is the most important consideration in many of the Martial Arts, and especially the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts, and by extension Wing Chun.

It is my firmest belief that as students we must present ourselves open and empty to be truly honest and capable of moving forward, our answer to the idea of softness and where it resides in our own training will define our understanding or highlight our  ignorance of the dynamics involved in personal violence.

Softness is not a FORCE.

Softness is the antithesis of FORCE.

Soft Force is an Oxymoron, something that contradicts itself, so we should stop thinking of soft force and try to develop a wider understanding of softness as a condition in relationship to a Martial Art.

An unfortunate reality is that a fair amount of modern Wing Chun is getting confused and hybridised with Tai Chi, Tai Chi pushes the opponents body mass, case in point Peng, the ward off, which is a very large aspect of Push Hands, Wing Chun chooses to not take this path,  Wing Chun chooses redirection, redirection is to go somewhere else or to send incoming force somewhere else, we shift, we pivot we step away.  A great deal of what is being taught as Chi Sau is closer to push hands than it is to Chi Sau. Many  Wing Chun practitioners think PAK SAU………….  but perform PENG.

Hardness and Softness are values, measures, delineations of types of contact, not of application, for instance it is well within my own skill set to make soft contact with an attacker using a steel pipe, which is, as everyone knows, as hard as steel.

Don’t say that!!!!

Being in a relaxed state has very little to do with softness, when drunks fall over they hit the ground just as hard as anyone else, being relaxed does not make someone any lighter.

If someone throws a punch at us there is no way we can affect the amount of force they use, or wether or not their striking arm is tense or relaxed, we have very limited control over the conditions of contact, contact is an aggregation of many factors such as stability, speed of movement, direction of movement and relative weight of the two respective points of contact.

The best we can do is affect how heavy the contact is. Softness is a contact issue.

What we refer to as soft contact can be achieved by various means such as redistributing the contact force along a greater contact area {shearing}, accepting the force and allowing it to pass through us {absorbing}, or by accepting the force and allowing it to settle into our centre and physically move us {following} or similarly reside in our centre and then purposefully take it somewhere else{leading}, in all likelihood in application it will be a combination of some or all of the previously mentioned.

I also feel that we would all benefit from changing the rhetoric, even if soft force existed why on earth would we want to stop anything? Stopping something requires a minimum of equal force and usually greater force.

 

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