October 20, 2013 / in Wing Chun Theory / by Sifu Justin Och
With Wing Chun centerline theory, students focus on the hitting power, direction, and intent of their delivered blows. In this way they are visualizing the strike through the body to the vitals, organs, and spinal column. Understanding the Wing Chun centerline theory allows students to actively participate in training themselves to think critically when attacking. This focus includes understanding the amount of pressure, power, skill, and speed it will take to shatter, break, or destroy an opponent’s “core of cylindrical ice”.
Penetrating the Cylindrical Core
The cylindrical core is also your energy core. It’s everything from the head all the way down to the groin. By shattering or breaking this energy core, you can shut down an assailant. To practice, find something deep and solid you can visualize, and focus intently on it. Visualize the amount of resistance a cylindrical core of ice can give and the amount of power, technique and skill needed to shatter it. Once you have visualized it place deep within the body, strike at it. Striking at the surface will not affect it—strike through it. Whether you visualize that you’re striking all the way through to the spine or simply shattering ice, you must strike through the surface to the center in order to be effective.
Wing Chun Centerline Theory Explained
Wing Chun Centerline Theory deals with controlling the center which is only possible for brief moments against an advanced opponent. Opponents who are not advanced can be controlled for longer periods of time. Highly mobile assailants with advanced training and skills will try to slip, move, or pull out and attack to counter controlling movements. All aspects of Wing Chun centerline theory must work as a whole. Being taught, learning or understanding only one piece of Wing Chun is like having a car with only one gear. Any martial art can use centerline theory, but Wing Chun was created to maximize its potential.
Every aspect of Wing Chun centerline theory focuses on the best way to protect and devastate this integral part of the human condition, while controlling all aspects of the body in a fight. Every attack and defense radiates from this center. To control it is to control every action and reaction an opponent makes. Practicing and enhancing your peripheral vision will allow you to encompass not only your opponent’s body, but also any additional opponents that may decide to join a fight. A good centerline keeps your back straight, the head is slightly down, and the knees always bent to strike, move, and redirect incoming attacks.
Don’t try to watch an assailant’s eyes, hands, or legs. Rather, look at the center chest and allow your peripheral vision to take in the rest of your surroundings. Always keep your hands in front of you—this gives you a reference point for your vision. You can actually calculate the distance and speed of your assailant’s attacks based off of their distance and movement in reference to the length of your arms from your body.
Centerline Theory for Practical Protection and Defense
Placing your hands in an active forward protecting position psychologically forces an assailant to attack from the outside—the center is already occupied by your arms. Any time you can force an assailant to take the longer route to their intended destination you win. A Wing Chun practitioner will always seek to travel directly through the center. Using this tactic, you can start to practice centerline theory, control, movement, protection, and devastation.
Remember, an assailant has to attack your centerline in order to harm you. Attacking your shoulder, arms, and legs will only cause minimal damage unless left unchecked. Any effective punch, kick, or body attack from an assailant goes for your center. This is the only way to engage and shut you down quickly in a fight. Any other attack, whether grabbing, pulling, Chi Na, or a take down will need more than a single motion to shut you down. Any attacks that cause immediate shutdown are on the centerline.