Get out of the way

by Practical Method on 2007/02/22

The last workshop I attended with Master Chen Zhonghua had him correcting me on structural positions, and pushing hands positions with an idea that connects with several other, higher level ideas he has previously taught.

In the posture following the first Single Whip the left hand briefly is doing the Seven Inch Knife position. When Master Chen corrected me he tapped my elbow and shoulder and then lightly pushed them further inwards. His comment was to ‘get them out of the way’ of the hands connection to the kua. At first I was a bit puzzled but then said, “Is this the same idea as moving the knee out of the way so that our kua can connect more easily to the foot?”. He replied affirmatively.

I’ve been working with this since then and have come to the realization that this whole matter boils down to one principle, metering. The basic principle is that of gears being caused to move by other gears (all gears are connected).

In both instances, the leg and knee, and the elbow and shoulder, were not gearing/rotating exactly with the other gears of the body. Thus they were slightly out of optimum position. In fact most of the time they clash.

Looking at this from both angles is instructive as the idea of metering can remain just an idea, theory, until there is something concrete to relate it to. The idea of moving a limb or construct, out of the way will remain partial, only certain areas will be worked on, until one realizes that the idea is universal.

To simplify this idea and make it universally usable we must realize that like gears, joints rotate. When gears, or joints, rotate both sides of the gearing mechanism must be synchronized with the other half. Imagine driving down the highway when one gear in your transmission decided to rotate at half speed. The result wouldn’t only be expensive, the resulting clash of gears would probably cause an accident.

If your knees, or hips or shoulders hurt when you do circles, one of the possible reasons is that you are not rotating both sides of the joint evenly and are thereby creating undue pressure on the joint. As a matter of fact this is pretty much a given. And that’s why we aren’t masters yet. This is a very big part of the puzzle for how we create stability and movement and ‘perceived power’.
There is a very simple equation that you can use to guide yourself through correct movement. When one side of a joint moves, the other side must move equally, but in the opposite direction. For example when your waist moves forward and the joint in question is the front hip, or kua, then your front thigh must move as much as the waist but in the opposite direction. In this case your waist is moving forward so your thigh must move inwards. In this same movement your rear leg is also connected to the waist through a gear, or joint. For the rear leg to move correctly it must rotate in the opposite direction from the waists forward motion. Therefore it must rotate outwards.

This same formula can be applied to every joint in the body. Indeed it must be applied to every joint in the body or we will not be rotating, we will be clashing.

Gord Muir

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

chenzhonghua February 26, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Another way of saying “Get out of the way!” is to make your body stay on track. The circles and spirals that we try to do are in fact invisible (train) tracks that we painstakingly lay for future use. Once the tracks are there and your body parts stay on the tracks, you will have power that cannot be seen by others.


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