Muscles are binary, we turn them on by applying tension, and we turn them off by relaxing.

There is a widely held belief in Wing Chun that we must, relax, not have any tension in our muscles, limbs or joints.

Where did this IDEA come from?

Muscles only work when we add tension, the only way we can stabilise any joint is to introduce tension to keep everything in its natural place.

Yes, if we apply tension incorrectly by placing it in the wrong part of the structure, by over contracting and locking up the muscle then, of course, nothing performs the way we want it to.

It is the same with tension created stiffness.

Our spine is not designed to handle loaded positions, trust me, with my medical history I know this more than most.

The musculature surrounding our spine is designed to create stiffness, firstly for safety and support, ‘self splinting’, but also so that we can effectively transmit energy from our hips to our shoulders, the practice of ‘relaxing’ [sic] the spine is a recipe for disaster.

We need a better understanding of the role of tension.

There has been a seismic shift between older models of human movements, such as Kung Fu Forms and the needs of the modern sportsman/fighter/combat athlete.

Today we have a much better understanding of how to maximise our condition, our physical programing.

If ‘our thing’ is to not only survive but blossom we are in great need of a software update.

Muscles are binary, we turn them on by applying tension, and we turn them off by relaxing.

It should be self-evident that when we turn them off, relax them, we fall over because nothing is now holding our limbs in place to support us.

Tension is created by stretching something, like a students spine when we tell them to ‘raise-up’, hold their head high.

Torsion is created when something is twisted, think of ringing out a wet Tee-Shirt, or the action of our ‘Core’ when we perform the opening Biu Gee “shoulder spins elbow” movement.

“To every action, there is an equal reaction of the same magnitude in the opposite direction” Sir Issac Newton.

When we create tension return force tries to pull it back, this is, of course, the ‘stretch reflex’ I spoke off previously.

When we create torsion, when we wind something tighter, the return force, the ‘stretch reflex’, tries to unwind it back to the point of origin, this force is expressed as torque.

Tension and torsion are power generators that we should be taking advantage of and not trying to avoid.

Another quality of torsion is that it compresses what it twists making it denser, stronger, more solid.

In effect, it makes the twisted item heavier by condensing its mass into a smaller space, our very own singularity.

The creation of torque requires that there is a fixed base and not a moving base that would simply dissolve the accumulated kinetic energy delivered as torque.

If we pivot and allow or even cause our feet to slide with us we are dissolving torque, dissolving the power, the kinetic energy that we have built up.

There are two sides to this coin, as there are to every coin.

In defence against an attack, if I want to dissolve my opponent’s power then I allow my feet to slide as I pivot, causing the force he intended to hurt me with to be wasted by converting it into movement.

If I am attacking an opponent why would I choose to waste the torque created kinetic energy by allowing my feet to slide, disconnecting my stability and removing me from my source of power, denying myself the benefit of return force?

When attacking, keep the feet firmly planted.


A similar yet different coin.

Moving into an opponent creates power by compression.

Moving away from or with an opponent dissolves power by extension.

Think ‘Forward Force’, or even simpler and more practical think about the Doppler Effect.

In summary.

When we add tension/torsion we increase force, when we remove tension/torsion we dissolve force.

Understanding when and where is the real key, they are both equally important.



1 thought on “TENSION AND TORSION.”

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