When we first begin training Biu Gee it is quite hard to not focus on the Arm movements, the flying elbows, the darting fingers and fail to see what is going on within the engine room of our body that is our torso, it is of great importance to understand that everything that we will ever do with our arms was introduced through the First Form, that is why we constantly revisit it.
Biu Gee is about kinetic linking that manifests surprising amounts of power to effortless movement, enabled by a kinetic chain that starts at the floor and ends in our fingers, for this to happen we need a refined combination of movement and stability especially in the upper torso.
The shoulder girdle is the transition point where the energy / power created by the body is transferred into the arms, any over softness, over stiffness or misalignment here will result in major power loss and potential injury.
The central learning objective with the shoulders in Biu Gee is what is sometimes referred to as the shoulder girdle slide, the manipulation of the scapulae this can be clearly seen and felt in the opening flying Elbows but it is present in all articulations of Biu Gee to a certain extent, understanding that all arm movements in Wing Chun originate with the scapula is a genuine epiphany.
Although we refer to the shoulder girdle or pectoral girdle in the singular there are of course two of them, one on each side of our body, they can be used independently or in unison, the shoulder girdle is made up of three joints and more than a dozen muscles, in fact if we include the rotator cuff and the neck we can be choosing from up to twenty muscles every time we rotate the arms in the shoulders, to go into what they are and how they interact is beyond the scope of this post but I do recommend a bit of research into it to source your own information.
For whatever reason there is very little accurate anatomical information available in Wing Chun, explanations are usually along the lines of “shoulder pushes elbow, elbow pushes wrist, rotate the shoulder, drop the shoulders” while this is obviously correct its generality is less than helpful and very easy to misinterpret and go down the wrong path, when I teach my students I encourage them to establish a personal lexicon for what we are doing, after all words are just labels we use to describe things, it is not the label we are after, changing the words we use to describe what we are doing will not change Biu Gee, a rose by any other name is still a rose, but it will quite likely speed up comprehension.
The words we at Wing Chun Sydney use in our training to describe the various functions of the shoulder girdle are press, push, pull, roll, slide, open and close, when articulating the shoulder girdle every action will contain two or three of these IDEAS, this may create confusion for some students so I encourage everyone to feel what is going on when they do something correctly and describe it to themselves in their own personal way, my words are just a starting point.
Movement and stability is a sliding scale matrix, if we are completely mobile we have no stability and if we are completely stable we have no movement, by the time many students begin Bui Gee they have already gone down the wrong rabbit hole with regards to strength, but more problematic is there perception of softness / stiffness.
Softness and stiffness is also a sliding scale matrix, if we are too soft everything gets pushed out of alignment and we cannot transfer energy, if we are too stiff we create blockages in the kinetic chain and we cannot transfer energy. There are parts of our our frame that are not meant to move, and these can be held quite rigidly and still transfer energy and of course there are parts of our frame that require free movement, stiffness here will impinge on their effectiveness, the thoracic spine region or rib cage is a prime example of the former and the shoulder girdle is a prime example of the later. Biu Gee gives us a platform to explore this, to find out how to tie together the rigid rib cage with the fluid shoulder girdle.
No one said it would be easy.