This article is exploratory in nature. It attempts to propose an integral explanation on the roles of centre(s) in Idea Wing Chun.
A genuine learner of Idea Wing Chun would have probably encountered the prominence of centre(s) throughout the practice of the 3 form-sets. Briefly as follows:
Siu Nim Tau (Tiny Idea) – At the beginning, it is emphasised that when the arm is sent forward (e.g. Tan Sau (Lay-flat Hand)), it should not be done by the force in the forearm. Instead, muscular relaxation from the shoulder area (from the shoulder blade first, then down along the back) takes charge and delivers the power to set the arm in motion. At a more advanced level, the relaxation of the body trunk should be deep enough to access (by the mind, Idea) the solar plexus in the way that this area also contributes to the forward movement of the arm. In terms of a higher level (more simplistic) description, the solar plexus is regarded as a centre (point), and the arm is said to be sent out directly by the centre. Let’s call it the upper centre.
Chum Kiu (Detecting Hand-bridge) – It all starts with the practice of pivoting that leads to generating momentum from the “entire” body weight. At the beginning, a “virtual” vertical axis, running from the top of the head (not in the middle, but in the hind part) to the tailbone (basically following the path of the spine) and further down to the floor (beyond the physical body, thus virtual), is being imagined to self-rotate from inside, bringing along the body to pivot. The emphasis on “entire” body weight and “virtual” axis entails involving every part of the body (as a whole) in sending the arm forward (in the Tan Sau example). At a more advanced level, the self-rotating of the virtual axis, while still remaining as a vertical piece, is to be initiated by a centre (point) in the lower abdomen area (below the belly button and within the pelvis area), as if the vertical axis is being represented by that centre. Let’s call it the lower centre.
Biu Jee (Darting Fingers) – Assuming that the upper centre and the lower centre have been discovered (felt), even just barely, through training on Siu Nim Tau and Chum Kiu, the two can orchestrate to perform swift and destructive movements in Biu Jee. At the beginning, the upper centre comes to the fore when the typical Biu Jee elbowing is practised. The elbowing is not achieved by exerting force from the elbow, nor just from the shoulder area, but from the upper centre all the way through the rib cage up to the shoulder joint and further to the elbow. Based on but different from its role in Siu Nim Tau, in which the rib cage body part relatively remains still, the upper centre point “causes” the rib cage structure to pivot when channelling power from the body to the arm (sending-power-to-fingertips, see The Book of Wing Chun Vol. 1, pp. 237-240), resulting in elaborate movement of the shoulder-chest part which has become the iconic visual of Biu Jee. The upper centre, however, only represents power tapped from the body trunk, but not the “entire” body. This is, at a more advanced level, where the lower centre fits in. The upper centre is rooted in the lower centre which represents the solid momentum of the entire body weight. The former controls the degree and speed of pivoting of the rib cage structure; the latter controls the degree and speed of pivoting of the whole skeletal structure around the vertical axis. The power being channelled from the upper center to the arm now incorporates the solid power transmitted from the lower centre.
The more generic naming (upper and lower centres) is used here (instead of specific naming like solar plexus and pelvis centres) for a reason. (To be continued…)