The Hammer and the Nail

by Rene Ritchie

It’s sometimes heard in Wing Chun Kuen that power is generated from the ground. This is actually heard more frequently in other arts, and personally I never heard this whileHammer-and-Nail learning Wing Chun Kuen. I heard something slightly different.

One of the qualities Wing Chun Kuen favors is adaptability; we change according to feeling and circumstance. If we put a hand out and our opponent does nothing, we hit them. However, if our opponent defends, we don’t stubbornly plow through, overcommit, stumble and leave ourselves open for counter. No, we change to another hand and continue on towards our target. This is referred to as “asking the way”, where the opponent lets us know exactly how to defeat him or her.

And what applies to the hand applies to the body (hand, waist, and body unite in Wing Chun Kuen).

If power is generated from the ground, transfered through the body, and targeted into the opponent, that power is already dead.

Wing Chun Kuen, by contrast, generates no power until the moment of contact with the target. In that instant, hand, waist, and body combine but not in a uni-directional pulse from the ground up, but rather a bi-directional and reflectional wave where the legs brace with the ground as the hand is driven into the target. Since the ground is more stable than the opponent, the opponent gets some of the ground’s reflected share as well.

In more classical Wing Chun Kuen terms, some systems use body power like a hammer swing. They drive a heavy locked bar with great force but no adaptability. Other systems use hand power like a nail toss. They throw a light, agile projectile with little force and no stability.

Wing Chun Kuen takes the nail, holds it to the opponent, and just as it digs in, smashes it with the hammer.

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