The centre line is a vertical guide that divides your body into two equal sides. The centre line runs in line with your spine, extending down to the floor. When possible, Wing Chun practitioners maintain an upright posture, rotating at the waist rather than leaning from side to side and they adjust their height by sitting deeper, or extending their legs within a controlled range. This keeps the centre line running vertically and allows the practitioner to control their centre of mass within a localised area.
The image to the right shows one of the inital movements in Siu Nim Tao, the point of contact where both arms cross marks the centre line, the arms would then be raised showing the actual line from the waist up. The arm position in the image to the right is not meant as a defensive technique. It serves to establish the centre and define the parameters our arms work within.
The Wing Chun guard position consists of one arm extended (man sau, meaning asking hand) with the elbow around a fist distance away from your body and a rear guard hand (wu sau) which is also a fist distance from the body. Basically in Wing Chun we keep one arm in front, one arm at the back and both wrists in the middle or centre as seen in the image to the right. This basic guard hand position helps the Wing Chun practitioner to both maintain their centre line and to track the centre of the opponent. The target is always the centre of the opponent which means that the opponent's centre changes depending on which angle you are facing them from. If you are facing the opponent face to face then some examples of their centre would be; their nose, sternum or groin, but if you were facing the opponent from their side, examples of their centre would be; the ear, side of the neck or ribs. Anywhere along the vertical centre in front of you is the primary target. Striking the opponent here means that they absorb the full power of your strikes. If you push someone on their shoulder when facing them face to face, your force will bring about a rotation in their torso wheras if you push the centre, their body will cave in the middle and their whole body's structure will be affected. This is what we mean by forcing the opponent to absorb the full power of your strikes.
In any martial art, positioning is very important and Wing Chun is no exception to this rule. In fact the guard position and centre line help the Wing Chun practitioner to maintain good positioning. In Wing Chun we face the opponent square on rather than adopting a side angled body position. This is so we have use of both arms with equal reach toward the opponent. It also puts you in a more neutral position enabling rotation in any direction. If your wrists are both in the centre line, one front, one back, both middle and your centre is always lined up to or looking at the opponents centre, then it becomes easy to maintain this front facing position. You effectively keep the opponent's centre targeted, like a sniper looking through a gun sight, looking or feeling for the opportunity to take control.
Defensive techniques run along your centre line and offensive techniques go toward the opponents centre. Both actions travel along the most direct path, a straight line. This straight line approach reduces the time taken to reach the target and puts you behind each motion allowing your structure to provide the strength rather than muscle. All movements should be as compact and direct as possible making the best use of time and energy.
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Central Wing Chun ~ London Kung Fu
A few articles that may be of interest to you. Each written by us at Central Wing Chun. Enjoy!