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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: INITIATING POWER IN BIU GEE.


 

 

Without intending any disrespect to masters past or present a great deal of the theory still followed in Wing Chun is decades if not centuries out of date

 

Question   When we are striking an opponent do we wish to create force or do we wish to create power?

Force and power are not the same, once we understand this we realise that it is incorrect of us as Instructors to talk about F = ma in relation to punching, this is force, what we should be addressing is how to create power so that when the punch lands it lands with greater force. If we look close enough Biu Gee does just this.

A force is created when one object interacts on another object by either moving it {causing acceleration, in physics fast and slow are both acceleration} or changing its shape  {causing it to deform}, the force only comes into existence on contact with another object, force cannot be created by one object acting alone.  

One thing we can do on our own is create torque, it is often stated that torquing creates power, this is a misunderstanding, torque is a measure of power, it is certain that a punch that utilises torquing can be more powerful than one that does not but that is because torquing compresses the body in on itself and makes it more unified, compact and solid, it would be more accurate to say that torquing prevents the loss of power that can be seen in a disconnected lose body structure, and as mentioned earlier in this line of posts it can create an increase in velocity due to the addition of forces.  If we intend to bring physics into our training we should use it to better understand our own body, what it is doing, why it is doing it and not try to use it to explain our training.     We are Martial Artists not physicists we would do well to stick to lay terms.

Without intending any disrespect to masters past or present a great deal of the theory still followed in Wing Chun is decades if not centuries out of date, by this I mean how the Forms are explained, the Forms themselves can never be wrong just misrepresented, even if we only go back to the time of Ip Man the world has moved on a very long way, although Biomechanics, Kinesiology and Kinetics have been around since Aristotle’s De Motu Animalium it was not until money became involved, namely professional sport, that this information become readily available, heavily researched, deliberately advanced and widely used, it is important to understand that for a long time this information was not public knowledge it tended to stay in universities and national sports academies, not the local library, we now have far better knowledge and thanks to the internet it is only a google away.

In todays global geo political world winning a gold medal at the olympics is as much a political statement as it is a sporting achievement, countries hold great sporting prowess in high regard thinking that it reflects their society just as centuries ago fighting ability was highly regarded, when China decided it wanted to get involved in the olympics did it send its athletes to the Shaolin Monastery or to Mount Ermei,  in the mens gymnastics do we see Chinese athletes wu-shu moves in the floor routines?  In order to compete and eventually dominate what they did was employ western coaches and embrace western sports science’s approach of applied kinesiology.

In the previous posts I talked about the hierarchy of movements, of adding forces and of kinetic linking, none of these are about power, they are about creating the environment for the effective transmission of power once we have created it.

In Wing Chun our power is our body mass, we give our weight to the opponent, without meaning to contradict what I said about lay terms or trying to get all geeky weight is a measure of the effect of gravitational acceleration on our body mass, I mention this to highlight that all movement begins by our mass being pulled downwards by gravity into the floor and then returning back into us via reaction force.  It is our own weight that is the source of our power, and through Biu Gee we can learn how to direct that weight, that reaction force wherever we wish it to go, even to the ends of our fingers.  We may genuinely believe that we move from our centre, but we do not, we move from the floor, it is Newton’s third law in action.

All of our power originates in weight shifting, but not just random shifting, our weight must be shifted accurately in the direction that we wish to do the work, in striking our weight must move in the same direction and to the same point as our hand or fist, even when the motion is mostly rotary or using just the upper body we must find a way to shift our body down the intended path of action.  Biu Gee helps us understand this.

For some reason a great many Wing Chun students are stuck in the notion that our body only moves around our central axis, the CentreLine, the thing is that to shift our weight we need to shift from one side of the body to the other side of the body, even with a rotation we need to discover how to move our weight from the right axis into the left axis, when we do this our weight stays within our body but our body moves through our immediate space, we move all of our body and all of our weight, this work was already introduced in Chum Kiu, but for defensive, receptive purposes and as such we shifted our weight into the rear foot or the rear side, in Biu Gee we are looking at issuing force and through close attention it becomes plain to see that the majority of the movements shift the weight from one position to another position forwards into the front foot or the front side.

As I mentioned times change, thinking changes and we must change with them, for some time now I have been reading  Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise  by Peter McGinnis, to be honest it is still a bit of a challenge to grasp, but even at my inadequate level of understanding it is a real head spin and  eye opener, it is intended for undergraduate students of sports and exercise biomechanics, the type of people that in time will revolutionise our favourite sports, most of it I need to read and reread but I already realise that a lot of what I know from my own sports training in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s is already out dated, a lot of what I used to hold as good information has now been proven functionally deficient or simply superseded, this has a positive side to though, it has led me to research what is presently being taught to aspiring athletes, of particular interest to any student wishing to improve their Biu Gee is modern discus or shot putting, this post is getting a bit long so I will follow this aspect up next week.

If we are genuine Martial Artists we should ask our selves can we really expect the information from a 400 year old Martial Art to still be relevant? Perhaps as a hobby or cultural exercise this may be interesting even exciting but there could come a time when we stake our life on it.

 

 

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