Direction Dichotomies vs 3-dimensional Angular Degrees

Maurice: I am right-handed. Supposedly the difference between movements by my right and left should be great, in terms of power and smoothness. However, during Wing Chun practice, I didn’t feel the difference that great at all! I remember you mentioned something similar before. Is that related to the way Wing Chun generates power?

Me: I recall an episode. I asked Sifu (Grandmaster Chu), when he delivered a punch, would his right punch be more powerful than his left punch, since he was right-handed and thus the right mechanism was supposedly stronger. He said, no, the same; to him, no difference.

I try to offer an explanation. Let’s assume that before taking on Wing Chun practice, you solely rely on muscular contraction to generate power for delivering a punch. Being right-handed (or left-handed), the muscles on the right side are more involved in giving out the strength (let’s accept this assumption for the sake of simplicity). That means they are more attuned and more reflexive than their counterparts on the left side. Or simply said, better muscular memory in them. If you want your left punch as powerful as the right, you’ll certainly have to dedicate separate training to the left muscles; that is, to instill the same memory in them. We may say, movements based on muscular contraction adopts the paradigm of direction dichotomy (left/right, up/down, front/back, etc.) – a change in direction to the opposite in a dichotomy demands instilling new muscular memory into the related, different muscles.

In the Wing Chun way, as in my perception, movements are initiated by joint-rotating. To a joint, which connects the end of a supporting bone to the head of a leading bone (my wording and made simplistic), the paradigm of direction dichotomy doesn’t apply. The joint rotates the leading bone to a position now described by the degree of angle in the 3-dimensional space. To it, there is only difference in angular degree (extent), no need to specify a direction (within opposites) beforehand. In a punch, the central skeletal part initiates the movement, up to the shoulder joint, to the elbow joint, to the wrist joint, and finally onto the fist structure. You can imagine, whether it is a right or left punch, the initiation is the same. Actually, it happens at the same time to both sides, as obviously seen in continuous punching: when the central rotates the right shoulder joint at an angular degree (seen as “forward”), it effectively rotates the left shoulder joint at another angular degree altogether (seen as “backward”). There’s no need for joints (the skeleton) to memorise.

Then, the softened muscles go along the “direction” (a stream of positions in the 3-dimensional space) set by the joints, adding their momentum to result in solid power so delivered. No muscular memory on where to contract is necessary.


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