Our centreline is much more than a list of targets such as eyes, nose, chin, throat, sternum, groin etc. Our ‘centreline’ extends from the crown of our skull going down through the centre of our body, through the dantien core region, out the perineum and ending between our feet.
In the picture below, you will see two ways to punch, one of which is leaning forward INTO the punch, the other punching from an upright position. When we lean into a punch (as in the example on the right) we run the risk of the opponent intercepting the punch and taking our balance by deflection or pulling us forward off our structure.
When our stance has an intact centreline as in the picture on the left, the force from the ground has a straight path through the connective tissue, bones and tendons to the target. The result is a powerful blow at the point of impact. If the target is further away, we should move our feet towards the target first, then punch … from the ground up.
The true power in a punch comes from the mechanics of our body at the point of impact. This is the secret of the Wing Chun straight punch and the famous 1-inch punch. In any fight situation we have to stay relaxed – and move around fast and free – without tensing up,. But at the moment of impact, our feet, and hands need to form a continuous rigid connection with the ground to strike with the maximum impact.
If our centreline is broken, like the example on the right, our power at point of impact is diminished.
Which is more powerful – the punch where the joints are aligned providing a rigid striking platform, or one where we are not grounded, like in a swimming pool?
Sil Lim Tau, our first form - is practiced slowly so we can focus on the connections within our body, to ground ourselves, perfect our structure, control and protect our centreline and maintain balance while defending or striking at all times.
Sifu Garry has been practising Sil Lim Tau for over 35 years and is still trying to improve. We should all approach Sil Lim Tau with the same attitude if we want our wing Chun to be the best it can be.
Sifu Paul McCarthy