Penetrating Punch and The Wing Chun Stance – The Jackscrew Analogy

To the post [Grandmaster Chu Training Episodes #005: Penetrating Punch – The Basics] dated 2014.03.10, a reader, Mr. Davin Tan, left this message: “Could you elaborate on the lifting mechanism? So interesting! Is it a visual image of your elbow and wrist joint moving up vertically?” This post is trying to respond to his questions.

To be specific, the jack mechanism concerned is of the scissor jack (see the photo), a manual jackscrew type commonly used for lifting automotives.

Diagram 1 illustrates how the jackscrew mechanism can be employed to explain the penetrating punch movement. With the name labels and note dialogue boxes, the diagram should be self-explanatory enough. Only some complementary points are jotted hereunder.

The jackscrew is applied along the horizontal instead of the vertical as in its normal usage. Thus the load is from the side, not from above.

The wrist does not move up like the elbow, as Davin suggested. It only serves as a hinging connector to the fist which is in contact with the load. No jackscrew effect is intended in the wrist. Rather, constant focusing prevails so as to always navigate the fist to travel along a straight line. And this is vital for “maintaining” the punch penetrating (while the elbow operating in the jackscrew way “causes” the punch penetrating).

The 3 dots representing the elbow’s positions at different times (blue at t1, green at t2, orange at t3) do not fall in a same vertical straight line, as would be easily mistaken to be true when describing the elbow “moving up vertically”. Here, it is the Idea always intending the elbow upward at any “instant” of time, i.e. t1, t2, t3, etc. The path along which the elbow travels is not necessarily an upward vertical.

The jackscrew mechanism is equally applicable to the other pair of limbs – the legs. And this leads to how the stance carries the body weight as well as how to unleash the body momentum forward.

Diagram 2 shows the body weight, due to gravity, tends to drop downward but is being held (supported) by the “jackscrew” legs – by thinking the knee joints wanting to travel backward along a horizontal straight line, although the knees (indeed, the entire body) appear stationary in the stance.

Diagram 3 further shows when the knee joints are caused to move horizontally forward, the body trunk sinks accordingly. In fact, it can be interpreted as the body trunk being allowed to drop downward to cause the knees (via the hip joints) to travel forward along a straight line. And this could be described as the “reverse” jackscrew mechanism. Forward power so generated directly reflects the magnitude of the body momentum.

The “forward” here does not mean going to the direct front of the knees, as conveyed by the lateral view of the body in the diagram. It is actually converging onto the centreline instead.

By now, you could have imagined that to have all this to work, the joints must be very smooth, freed from muscular binding and being able to expand.

Nevertheless, do not equate your physical body parts to the corresponding mechanical parts of a jackscrew. For example, there is no physical leadscrew to screw in or out the elbow/knee joints, vertically or horizontally. Indeed, the analogy is for the operation in the mind, not in the physical.

If you are having problem in practising punching and the stance, try the jackscrew (scissor type) analogy which will often bring about immediate improvement!


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