The consecutive elbow-kneeing is an iconic move of Biu Jee. (“Kneeing elbow” is translated from a term in Chinese used by Grandmaster Chu in his Book of Wing Chun.) It refers to the elbowing moves in the first few parts of Biu Jee, and often serves as the preparatory drill before actually practising the Biu Jee form.
Regarded as the most advanced form beyond Siu Nim Tau and Chum Kiu, Biu Jee is keenly expected to deliver the greatest power by most learners. It is also supposed to be practised at one’s greatest possible speed (said by Grandmaster Chu in his DVD), and speed means power. In this connection, its great power is commonly attributed to its speedy movements, body rotation in particular.
This is all true and agreeable. In reality, the difference lies in on how to generate such speedy rotations.
Common mechanism 1: With muscular relaxation and Chum Kiu body rotation already in place, the necessary increased speed is attained by faster circular movement of the two arms (sometimes akin to swinging), pulling the body rotation to follow suit. It can be described as forceful arms, being the initiator, start and fuel the rotational movement up to high speed. The aim is to have the elbow land on the (imagined) target with a powerful hit (a bang). Such elbowing looks very fast (speedy) in the arm movement (externally), but the acceleration in the body is actually slow (internally). Since the initiator (the arms) is at the external, such elbowing cannot satisfactorily stand head-on blocking.
Common mechanism 2: With muscular relaxation and Chum Kiu body rotation already in place, the speed of rotation is increased by the proper Chum Kiu pivoting but faster, bringing along the arms to complete the elbowing movement. The body axis is the initiator and the power of the rotating body mass is reflected on the elbowing. The aim is to accumulate heavy weight to land on the (imagined) target. The acceleration in the body is in place to generate the speed in the arms. Such elbowing could be very powerful and is hard to stop by head-on blocking (unless the blocking force is exceedingly strong). However, it can still be easily deflected if the blocking force is dynamic enough in avoiding head-on exertion.
The mechanism I advocate can be signified by the whirlpool analogy. What is a whirlpool? – “A quickly rotating mass of water in a river or sea into which objects may be drawn……” (Google dictionary) There are several properties relevant to our case. A whirlpool is a closed-end circulation – there is no exit point along the entire path before entering the centre. When an object meets a whirlpool at its outest periphery, the mass of that part of water at the outest periphery exerts a force on the object at tangent, not directly head-on. The object is then being “brought along”, not landed on, by the tangential force. However, while it is being brought along, it does not travel along the path of the outest circle, but ever being pulled inward, traversing the conceptually concentric circular rings towards the centre, realistically in a spiralling manner especially noticeable when the whirlpool is bigger or speedier, until it is completely “sucked” into the bottom of the whirlpool (arguably, the bottom could be an exit point).
Now is the imagination time – to apply the whirlpool analogy to Biu Jee. That is, we are to apply the spiralling water flow, or more precisely, the trajectory of the object being sucked into the centre by the circulating water mass.
The upper centre point of the body is the centre of whirlpool. We only have one representation of the resultant trajectory – the elbow, which draws out the “intended” trajectory of sucking. The trajectory path is “intended”, because we won’t expect the elbow to actually reach the upper centre. It is an intent – in any Biu Jee movement, you cast an intent on the path that the elbow has to travel for producing the effect you desire. No matter in what shape the path is, it must in the end go back to the upper centre to complete as being sucked, a necessary property of a whirlpool.
The forearm is an extended length hinged on the elbow (the object), i.e. it is free to rotate with the elbow as a centre point, yet it is at the same time always being brought along by the elbow’s movement.
In empty-form elbowing, there is no real force to counter with at the forearm. The forearm then rotates (from the elbow joint) to align with the “intended” trajectory of the elbow towards the upper centre to attain the maximum intensity of swirling. And at this point, we can say, in empty-form elbowing we aim to drive the wrist-palm of the forearm towards the upper centre. But in reality, the forearm will adjust to an angle away from the “intended” trajectory (closer or farther from the body) to make contact with the opponent for making an effect you desire. Since the forearm is freely hinged, the sucking property of the elbow can be fully transmitted to the contact, where force is always applied to the opponent at tangent (another property of a whirlpool). When the forearm rotates closer to the body, sucking effect is increased, manifested as the opponent being driven more downward. When it rotates farther away, expelling effect will become more prominent (the “intended” trajectory of the elbow is still going towards the upper centre, but maybe taking a longer path along a wider curve).
In short, I propose that to attain the Biu Jee power, you have to operate like a whirlpool, the upper centre being the whirlpool centre, the elbow being the object travelling a trajectory towards that centre to give out sucking power and tangential forces that the opponent cannot resist at all.
The next question is: In common mechanism 2, Chum Kiu pivoting by axis and increased speed have already been attained. What is still lacking for creating the whirlpool effect? This will be dealt with in the next post.
To be continued……