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More than bent knees and wide stances Take for instance a “duck stance”, most people walk and stand with the toes pointing out from the heels and centerline. When this happens your center of gravity changes from being underneath you to behind you as the toes point out and the heels point in your center is drawn behind you. Though you could bend your knees, widen your stance or thinking about rooting it would not improve your dynamic structure if attacked.
Your center of gravity within your wing chun stances, and rooting is more than just bending knees, getting a wider stance and visualizing yourself “sinking” into the ground. Though my Tai Chi Grandmaster would say “these are all great tools but your still cheating”. Cheating in the sense that this understanding of wing chun stances and rooting is based off of widening legs or just bending to gain a lower center of gravity. Anyone can widen their stance or bend their knees to gain this kind of rooting. So where does great rooting and proving great rooting come in, first you must question and test your current understanding and ability in rooting and moving.
For rooting without dynamic movement is useless stance work and practice for unpractical purpose. Unmoving and un-dynamic root has no purpose or ability against a striking, multiranged assailant.
There are many tools and drills we use to check every level of rooting from the arms, chest, hip and yes legs into the ground. Rooting down and striking forward is a mystery to some. I remember taking other styles and the Master telling us to bend the knees and “feel” yourself rooting. This is like saying knowing “of” and “feeling” out your A, B, C’s is like knowing, reading and understanding the ‘Freedom From Fear’ by David M. Kennedy. It isn’t the same and you will always question if your rooting could be better and what that would affect if it was.
What does wing chun stances rooting mean if it isn’t just bending the knee’s or widening the stance?
Is rooting for your school of Wing Chun shock value rooting?
Can you do it if you’re standing in a bar, restaurant or home or does it need preparation?
Is it too close or too far apart?
Does your rooting hold up when caught off guard and someone attacks with something you didn’t expect?
Someone comes and pushes you can your rooting recover quickly or do you lose balance easily?
Is your stance tested and practiced reflex, or is it more of induced movement attached to a sequence of responses?
Can you, while attacking in a fast or vicious manner maintain this chosen rooting, wide stance or structure at all times or do you notice it changes. Choosing a stance that maintains your rooting, structural reinforcement of all of your techniques while keeping and increasing your ability to be dynamic within your footwork are all key.
Even within Wing Chun there is a disagreement of structure, wing chun stances, rooting, distance of footwork, knee positions and even weight distribution. I have visited many different schools and heard the arguments and justifications of each thought. Some very well known instructors keeping the knees in, almost touching each other in order to protect the groin. Other well known teachers with stances that keep 80% on the front and 100% of their weight on the back foot. Even some teachers claiming there is no set stance just foot work that is used dynamically. The key is can their students use it for fighting, if so then the explaination is backed by the beautiful and sweet music of practical application.
If your foot work can move dynamically, be used practically and under the tenants of pressure, shock and surprise and can still hold up and reinforce every attack and block you have, than you are doing your art justice. It is easy to use the strikes and footwork of another art but to dive deeper within your own and find the truth and practicality in it preserves the art into the next generation.
We have our own ways of testing our downward rooting while pressing forward in and out of dynamic representation of Wing Chun. That is not to say we are not always students of this amazing art and that we have it perfect. We don’t, we are always improving, gaining, growing and seeing new light that Wing Chun has to help us in every aspect of our lives. Ask the questions, test yourself and grow within each day as it is given to you. If you have questions about our footwork and structure please ask and comment below, we would love to continue this discussion.
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