Kwan: After several years’ attempt in rising up the spine, I now feel more confused than before. It seems that I can never get it right. Or it’s just due to my stupidity? Others can have already done better?
Me: You have your own particular problem which makes your intent of rising up the spine result in more tightening in the chest.
This is a common problem (not due to stupidity!) during practice when attempting to do so: The intent to rise up the spine turns out to have caused rising from the front – the chest muscles contract to pull up instead, ironically the feeling of which convinces yourself that your intent is playing its role, while in fact rising has been displaced by pulling.
Such pulling is usually accompanied by bending of the body at one of or both centre points (the upper and the lower). And the connection of the body breaks. (Refer to the posts here about two-centre operation, Part 1 and Part 2.)
When it’s at the upper centre point, the chest muscles hold up the chest area and the rib cage structure bends backward. When it’s at the lower, not only the chest area but down to the pelvis, the front acts as a whole plate through which rising is conducted, resulting in bending backward at the hip joints, usually with knees pressing forward in tandem for maintaining balance; often bending also occurs at the upper as well.
An immediate remedial response would be to increase the intent of rising directly in the spine. Nevertheless the intent of rising from the front would still be present, albeit reduced, and disrupting.
Alternatively, try softening the front muscles and lessen the intent of erecting the spine – yes, lessen rather than increase! Effectively, it still increases the rising up as the front muscles now constraint less the freedom of the spine. This will greatly rectify the bending posture especially at the upper centre.
Don’t insist on a strong appearance of the Wing Chun stance that has caused the forward pressing of the knees. More softening of muscles in the belly and thigh areas into the hip joints should be emphasised, accompanied by however far the tailbone can slide in also through softening of neighbouring muscles. And this will not only rectify the bending posture at the lower centre, but significantly connects the upper and lower parts of the body into a more unified momentum.
Your problem on the chest is more imminent, at the upper centre. Although after trials of various methods and analogies to rectify it, it appears to be persistent. I suggest that you tentatively give up thinking about rising up altogether. Rather, focus on practising the elbowing movement extracted from Biu Jee. The elbowing movement likens creating a swirling dynamics of tornadoes that “sucks everything” into the upper centre point, pinning your protruded centre inward deep into the back.
This is a bold attempt – yet to see if it works. And accordingly, as you can understand, this special treatment does not indicate a genuine endorsement on your readiness in taking up Biu Jee. It is an experiment!