Kim Hoe: IDEAs Wing Chun would you share more similar tips for lower body parts (from pelvis to foot)? I think Pelvis and hip joint are the most challenging part to dissolve.
Me: In my vocabulary, “linking” means something more than just “connecting”, though sometimes the latter will be used in place of the former when the context is not ambiguous. When you put up the stance and drop the back muscles down to the buttock then to the knees, your upper and lower body parts connect via the muscular layer. Your body can already exhibit overall momentum from one connected entity. “Linking” further refers to knitting the inside parts, fundamentally the skeletal parts, together while enveloped by the connected muscular layer. It is this “linking” within the pelvis area that I am describing below.
Soften-melt into the hip joints from the front is a must. Otherwise, the hip joints won’t be able to autonomously rotate from inside, but heavily relying on neighbouring muscles for support in moving the thighs.
Soften-melt the lower back muscles (left and right) as the start is instrumental. At times, thinking about soften-melt the horizontal strip of muscle across the left and right lower back bordering the upper edge of the pelvis helps release the tension there, as well as connect to the central (fostering linking to the lower centre).
The tailbone intends to “slide in”, the term I prefer to “tuck in”. It’s like using the rotation of the whole pelvis, initiated as described above, to place the tailbone into a slot slightly curved at the end, which is approaching one end of the anus muscle. The key is to use the pelvis’s rotation to slide as deep as possible into the slot but gently, not to tuck in to squeeze the tailbone onto, nor the tailbone itself to struggle to press against a piece of contracted anus muscle.
By sliding, the tailbone may not reach to “land on” the anus. It keeps on sliding in, non-stop though. The tendency is being kept, it doesn’t cease as different from already “land on”.
It’s worth here to elaborate more on the condition of the anus muscle. The slide-in tendency so created in turn releases the tension in the anus muscle. Usually when you do tai gong, this piece of muscle contracts to firm up to a certain extent, giving the feeling of it as more rounded as a ring. It is on this contracted ring that you try to “erect” the spine from bottom up. The same anus muscle under the influence of the slide-in tendency actually lengthens or extended (feelingwise) into a strip, a bit swollen, but not rounded as a ring. It is swollen because something is passing through it from the tailbone tip; it is lengthened because that something passes through it and exits at the other end of the muscle. It is not bottom up, nor top down; it’s just linked.
And this is the setting for further linking through to the legs.
The pelvis and the leg parts are more dense and thick with “stuff” that compose them, as compared to the upper body. Thus there are more diverse possible paths or routes for exploration, which are quite subject to individual’s conditions.
Go along any possible paths you can discover. One common path is by further soften-melting from the lower back across the buttock muscles down to the back of the thighs up to the knees. This is the outer route. But remember to soften-melt inward to access the corresponding skeletal parts whenever you find it possible.
I took the inside route first instead. With the soften-melt tendencies from all directions that I could manage to create, I tried to dissolve-diffuse any obstacles and barriers inside, so as to clear through the hip joints from the abdomen into the legs to reach the thigh bones. This attempt, however, was very hard, as reflected as “big” obstacles and barriers on the way. At that time, I could not tell when it would be achieved (to an acceptable degree). All I could do was to persist day by day. Basically I didn’t practise any other stuff except standing (not in the Wing Chun stance at all) in the training hall, apparently just “thinking” inside – quite an odd appearance. In the end, it had lasted for about 16 months in retrospect (that’s why it was so odd), until one night in the training hall I felt something seemed to have changed in the pelvis/legs interface. At that point I decided to be “active” again, waking up from a prolonged period of “hibernation”.
Subsequent changes followed, with the first obvious one seen in chi sau. Not only the power becoming more solid, it was the ability of control on how and how much power to be delivered as desired having been greatly enhanced – movements in the arms were directly governed by the pelvis/hip joints! The second was pivoting; the third, kicking. However, this was not the end, but the mere start of tapping into the lower body, knowing that there was still a lot to open up. In fact, linking into the lower body was a milestone to me in the course of stepping into the self-learning mode, in which I have been improving my Wing Chun capabilities as well as understanding up to date.
There was a cause for my going into the “hibernation” period. One night I asked Sifu whether my stance was still too tight. Sifu paused, then with his iconic lovely smile he replied: “There is still a lot of room for improvement.” You can guess how I immediately felt. After some contemplation in the ensuing weeks, I decided to just stand there so that I could really focus on this issue. And here above is the story!
P.S. The lower leg and the foot are not dealt with in this post. They will be covered in kicking.