…to benefit most from a muscular contraction, you must create a fixed point for the muscle to pull from. In a dynamic movement, the fixed point may move relative to other body parts, but should not collapse towards the insertion of the contracting muscle.”
I’m always looking for science which can support and enhance our study of WingChun.
I had this book, Stability, Sport, and Performance Movement: Great Technique without Injury by Joanne Elphinstone, on my desk for over a year before I finally started reading, but I always suspected it would be a treasure trove. Procrastination! Anyway, now I’m finally reading it.
I’ve seen (and felt) some very high level kung fu expressed and one of the most frequent thoughts I have is, how are they generating so much power? I mean, where is that power coming from? It seems so in excess of their size and strength capabilities. The next thought is usually, I want to be able to do that too!
So how do we get from here to there? One of the paths is through understanding. One of my goals in studying WingChun is I want to see if I can hack it, using “hack” in the sense of “life hacking.”
From Wikipedia: “Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way might be called a life hack.”
I want to see exactly what makes WingChun tick and then see if by way of that understanding I can find quicker, faster ways to my goal of obtaining these skills.
This may or may not be possible. My Sigung, Gary Lam, says there are no shortcuts, that everyone must follow the same road to martial excellence. My Sifu, Greg LeBlanc, says, in response to my incessant questions on the same topic, sometimes you have to stop talking about it and just do it, many many times. Sometimes, you just have to find your answers through your body.
But through this blog, I can only communicate the mental part.
Stability, Sport, and Performance Movement has many useful ideas – this is why I expect this will be Part One. The book’s goal is to help athletes and coaches reach an understanding of how the body moves and generates force so they can perform and train more efficiently and avoid injuries.
The most basic idea is the need for “functional stability.” To illustrate this point, they demonstrate two ways one might curl a dumbbell In the first, stabilized version, the curling arm is fixed, braced against the body. There is one muscle, the bicep, contracting in one direction, causing the radius and ulna bones of the forearm to be pulled toward the humerus bone of the upper arm. One set of bones is pulled toward the stabilized bone by the shortening muscle. This is a stabilized movement.
In the second illustration, the arm is out, away from the body. The humerus bone of the upper arm is not fixed, so while the forearm bones are pulled toward the upper arm, the shoulder where the upper arm bone is inserted also goes forward toward the weight. This motion is unstable and thus weaker. Efficiency is sacrificed.
You need a stable foundation to support efficient muscle contraction. This is also part of the wisdom behind WingChun’s concept of the “fixed elbow.” The elbow is fixed in relation to the hip. The hip/elbow relationship stabilizes whatever actions (hitting, tan, fook) are being performed forward of the elbow. This is part of what we term structure.