The basic training stance (Yee Ji Kim Yeung Ma) is not a fighting stance per se. It is only used for slow Siu Lim Tao training. It does however work in many ways to develop our fighting properties. One way it does relate directly to fighting is that it is training the back leg of each side of the fighting stance simultaneously. The left leg in the training stance is the back leg of a fighting stance with the right as lead leg, and vice versa. The training stance is not even a stationary structure. It is a moving structure with the brakes on. The core is working in such a way as to create immense forward pressure. The structure of ankles, knees and hips is the brake, holding the movement in check. As soon as one foot is lifted slightly from the floor, we automatically and instantaneously move in the direction of that foot, with the other foot as the back foot and holding it’s line. This action of the core is just one dynamic which we use to move.
The basic training stance is also used to develop and help us learn to understand the structure of the body we use in a lot of the training. We learn to feel through stance training how these structures operate, how they connect and how they transfer forces.
The basic training stance develops our grounding, teaches us how to lower our centre of gravity. It also teaches us how to relax, even while applying maximum pressure with particular muscle groups.
The basic training stance programs in maximal angles of attack and defence, so that they become completely natural. It even prepares our legs and feet for some of our kicking. It strengthens all the joints of the lower body and the all-important psoas system, while allowing us to feel the separation of upper and lower due to the upper being completely relaxed and even uplifted by the pressure in the core.
There is no one part of the Ving Tsun system that is more important than the others, but if there were, it would be the basic training stance.
For the way we work, these conditions in the basic training stance must be met:
The stance must be measured out firstly by pivoting on the heels so that the feet face out at 45°, then by pivoting on the ball of each foot so that the feet now face in at 45°.
The outside of each knee is inside the line of the big toe of it’s corresponding foot. There is just over a fist distance between the knees. Remembering that we are training the back leg of each side of the fighting stance, there is no logical reason for us to be able to simply turn one foot from the basic training stance and be in a fighting stance. These two stances are not linked this way. They are related, but not so directly related. When we have set up the basic training stance correctly by our method, if we turn one foot to face towards the side, the stance will be too wide and too short for a good fighting stance. If we are to demonstrate the relationship between the basic training stance and the fighting stance by turning one foot, we need to lift that foot and place it in the correct position. A better way to demonstrate this relationship is to first pivot both feet on the heels to form the open training stance, then simply shift to one side. The lead foot doesn’t pivot as much as the back foot, so that it is turned in slightly in the fighting stance. The open training stance relates directly to shifting and stepping, and is used in Chum Kiu and elsewhere in the system where we move or express power from the centre, so is appropriate to turn into the fighting stance.. the basic training stance does not. Each is a back foot, so why would it be able to turn and become a front foot. That is a leap.. a logic leap. I spell this out because this changing of one foot to make the fighting stance can become a determining factor in the width of the basic training stance. The stance will be adjusted to be too wide in order to accommodate the change from one stance to another. This means that something that is irrelevant is determining our stance and undermining it’s value. It constitutes a virus in the program.
The pelvis has a posterior tilt, which increases with development in strength and flexibility. This rotation of the pelvis is continued until it is felt as a forward and slightly downward pressure through the centre just above the knees.
Rather than thinking of the waist as locked, it is better to think of developing more and more forward pressure. Without the structure of the legs handling this pressure, we would move forward very powerfully. In this sense the basic training stance is not s static posture at all but very dynamic, even though we are not moving! The structure of the legs does contain the forward pressure from the core, and to hold this structure, the adductor muscles must work very hard and become very strong. This is important because the adductors are a vital part of the stability of the hips as we move around in our stances, especially under duress as in intense training or fighting. The strength of the adductors is balanced by the development of the abductors when practicing holding our side kick up in the air.
The forward pressure developed in this stance is used for moving us around, and for delivering a powerful low strike which otherwise would require much body movement. The core is very versatile, and working it this way is only one way we use it to move or to strike. Striking low doesn’t come natural though, and needs work. A low powerful strike delivered to the solar plexus or under the ribs, or into the low ribs at the side can finish a fight.
The alignment of the body axis is vertical, so that the centre edge of the shoulder is directly above the centre edge of the hip, and both above the ankle.
The head is drawn slightly back so that the chin is tucked in a little and the head is held level, with the top centre of the head above the body axis. All this combines to effectively straighten the spine and most efficiently allow gravity to draw the mass of the head and the body to the ground, which automatically lowers our centre of gravity, increasing our stability and allowing us to have a higher more mobile fighting stance without sacrificing stability.
This structure also affords us the ability to relax the shoulders, again allowing our centre of gravity to sink, while allowing forces to transmit efficiently through the shoulders from the ground to the opponent and vice versa, often simultaneously.
The shoulder is used to pull the elbow back and slightly behind the body, always trying to get further back and behind. This is a very effective and beneficial stretch for the shouder, giving some of our strikes more range and power.
The fist is not touching the body. It is held just aside from the ribs. The fist is held tight the entire time it is drawn back. This is to develop our grip strength, and to learn to isolate strength in one part of a segment while the rest of it is relaxed.
The stance must be practiced for at least one hour at a time, when the student has worked up the ability to do this, usually when practicing Siu Lim Tao, the first form. It is strongly recommended to practice regularly for 3-4 hours. In our Siu Lim Tao there are three fook sau actions, so if we do each movement for 15 minutes this makes for a 4 hour form.
This is traditional Ving Tsun Siu Lim Tao training. It is extremely demanding for body and mind. It develops a state of no mind and is an ultimate meditation.
By the time one can practice in stance this long, the brain can automatically monitor the movements in the form, the observation and correction process is happening as and of itself, pain has become irrelevant, opposites have merged and become one. This time in stance is necessary not only to develop strength in the musculature and ligaments, and the fortitude necessary to continue with action under extreme duress, but to gain a deep understanding of the structure of the stance, what it is for and what it’s practice contributes to our Ving Tsun.
What initially may have felt like tension and pressure with accompanying pain is now totally relaxed, free and blissful.
Working up to a 4 hour Siu Lim Tao form, challenging the structure of the legs with the forward pressure from the core the entire time is the most demanding task in all of Ving Tsun Kuen.. it is also the most rewarding.