Wing Chun is both a Martial Art and a Body System, From the point of view of the Body System the first Form teaches us how to become aware of the joints that control our Arms and how to use them efficiently, the Chum Kiu teaches us upper and lower body co-ordination, teaches us body unity and how to maintain it while moving and the Biu Gee teaches us how to activate and use the muscles of the Torso and Shoulder girdle, how to best manage our muscles for better performance, but it is not just the movements of the Biu Gee Form that this is related to, this is just another aspect of the Little Idea so it relates to everything that has gone before as well., once we understand how to activate the muscles when opening the upper torso we should do it in all Forms, equally when we use our Arms in any Form or application it should be done with the ease of the first Form, only the speed differs, this is how the system works.
Before exploring how to manipulate the shoulder girdle we must open the chest. Opening the upper Torso is a method of improving the overall structure and stability of the upper body, it is a physical stretch that involves the Pectoralis Minor in the chest and the Serratus Anterior in the upper back, the only difficulty in this is becoming aware of them, the easiest way to find them is to take a very deep strong breath and feel what is stretching. Activating the Serratus Anterior allows us to move the Scapula and produces forward pressure to the Arms improving force transmission. Once identified we can manually activate them to open the chest, this should be in a side to side direction and not front to back or up and down, being able to keep these muscles activated while moving the Core is not difficult but it does take time and effort, posing the arms for the flying elbows should be done by this opening of the chest and not with the arms themselves. Performing Biu Gee without moving the arms is a bit weird but very educational.
There is a bit of a misconception that tension is bad for us in Wing Chun, this is mainly due to the way the English language uses the word “tension”, muscle tension is caused by contraction, this is of course detrimental to the practice of Wing Chun but the tension we are talking about is created by stretching, tension caused by extending a muscle improves everything we do. Think R. Buckminster Fuller and Tensegrity. The structural improvement brought about by opening the chest allows any strain to be taken up by a vast network of muscles instead of it loading the spine.
An issue we cannot ignore is the role of the mind in using our body, in my Sifu’s school there was a saying “let your mind do the work”, it sounds quite groovy and many people drifted of in all kinds of directions with this, the thing is our mind does not and cannot do the work, only the body can do the work and the body is controlled by the brain, mind is software – brain is hardware. Since the 1960’s it has been hip to talk about mindfulness and to be expected it is begining to sneak into Martial Arts, in meditation or zen practice mindfulness means to not use the mind, to just experience what is, mindfulness is achieved by “not doing” so it is hard to credit the mind for not doing if it is not doing it. My Sifu believed in manifesting Mind Force, I am not trying to say that Mind Force does not exist, I personally do not think it does though, and that is the most important thing to consider about the mind, it distorts reality to suit our own personal ideas, prejudices or agendas, it is a filter that is affected by everything we have ever experienced, whatever side we may fall on the fact is that the mind thinks and the brain does, even if Mind Force was real it would need to ask the the brain to carry the work out, and brain uses muscles to do everything, even breathing.