Relaxation in Kung Fu


Grandmaster Ip Ching speaks of several benefits from mastering the principle of relaxation.  The first and possibly most important benefit of relaxation is that is sets the pattern for learning and eventually mastering the techniques of Wing Chun.

The goal of training is to build correct muscle and tendon memory.  Once you have drilled incorrect body memory they become a habit.  Your body must learn how to move on the correct line of force.  Just drilling punches or movements will not do it.  You have to force your body to become proficient in these movements.  For example:  Drilling punches concentrating on the correct line of power.  Keep your elbow on line.  The wrist, elbow and shoulder must align correctly with the stance.  Paying particular attention to the exact standards of the movement.  This concept remains true in all of Wing Chun whether in stepping, kicking or any techniques.

Again step-by-step is the key for a correct technique.   Illustrated here is another example of a direct line of force demonstrated with a kick.  First, you must keep your foundation leg directly behind your kicking leg.  Second, make sure that the foundation leg remains bent during application.

This principle also applies to defensive techniques.  In advanced stages you must learn to develop your defensive movements.  When attacked try to concentrate on the fastest possible defense.  For example:  When you are attacked with a Lop Sao technique there are several options for defense.  You might utilize a correct Bong Sao, Pak Sao or Tan Sao.  The option will depend on the speed and mastery of the technique you choose.  These skills are developed through consistent Chi Sao practice.

The second reason you should practice relaxation is that it will help you develop explosive power.  An equation taken from Newton’s Second Law of Motion states that one half mass times acceleration equals power.  When you relax, your muscles seem to have more mass.  When your arm is tense the antagonist muscles do not stretch hold the weight of the arm decreasing the mass potential of the movement.  Relaxation also increases your power by increasing your speed.  When your muscles are tense they pull against each other and hold each other back.  Fighting with tension in your muscles is like driving a car with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake.  When your muscles are relaxed your movements will have much greater speed, and therefore much greater power.

Finally, staying relaxed in a fighting situation will help to avoid injury.  When muscles and joints are tense they are more prone to injury.  This situation is often seen in sporting events where athletes are struck during a flexed activity.  Severe injury is often the inevitable result.  When you stay relaxed your body will be able to move with the force of the attack.  Fighters often call this ability, “Rolling with the punch.”

When your ability to relax becomes intrinsic you will have found the key that Wing Chun has given you to unlock your potential.

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Master Ron Heimberger was a direct disciple of Grandmaster Ip Ching, he was one of the Directors of the Ving Tsun (Wing Chun) Ip Ching Athletic Association. Sifu Terry Estcourt represents Master Heimberger in the UK, anyone interested in learning and training Ip Ching Ving Tsun may contact Sifu Estcourt via
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