Centre Of Gravity And Footwork

Susana Ho (9/2002)

The Centre of Gravity is the central most point of the mass of an object. If every movement starts from this point, the object can be moved evenly in one piece. Therefore, when practicing Wing Chun, if the Centre of Gravity can be used to move, the whole mass will be brought along by this movement and this is an important element in developing power. The way to find the Centre of Gravity is through pivoting on a spot.

When practicing pivoting, the basic structure of the body, that is the Wing Chun Stance, is very important. If the body is not linked or united together, it is impossible to find the true Centre of Gravity. If practicing was concentrated just on the turning movements and assuming that the purpose of pivoting was achieved, then this way of thinking is wrong. If the method of training is just concentrating on the movements, then this will be mainly working on the waist or legs movements. Hence if any part of the body is under pressure which cannot be handled by the waist or legs, then the mobility of the body is affected.

When using pivoting on a spot to find the Centre of Gravity, one's internal feeling is very important. When practicing pivoting, the feeling should be on whether the smallest usage of the body is involved in order to make the whole body move relaxingly. If the Centre of Gravity can be used in the movements, when the turning is on extreme speeds, that is, very fast or very slow, the body will not lose its balance because of the fast movement or the muscle will start to hold or contract on the slow movement. The speed of the pivoting should be followed by the wishes of oneself that is if one wants to turn fast, it will be fast and if one wants to turn slow, it will be slow.

Some practitioners may mix up the Centre Point with the Centre of Gravity. It is easier to find the Centre Point. After finding the middle point of the height, the width and the depth of the object, the meeting point of these three middle points will be the Centre Point of that object. The Centre of Gravity is the central most point of the mass of the object. If the weight and density of each part of the object is the same, the Centre Point will be the Centre of Gravity of that object. However, the body shape of a human being is irregular and the organs, muscles and bones also weigh differently, therefore, inside a human body, the Centre Point is not the Centre of Gravity. But, on the other hand, the two points are quite close to each other. Under this situation that weighing is impossible, common sense and simple mathematic calculation can be used to find the Centre Point first. After the Centre Point has been found, one has to use one's sense to feel the position of the Centre of Gravity, that is, the position from which one's movement starts should be effortless and can be moved evenly as a whole.

When one can use the Centre of Gravity to move, the problem in learning the Footwork will be solved. The main purpose of a martial art's practitioner in learning Footwork is to train different angles and positions in attacking and defending. If one can use the Centre of Gravity to change the positioning of the body, the legs naturally will change to the new position and direction where the body is aiming. This is the same as in daily life where one wants to go from place A to place B. If one pays attention to how the body responds, it should not be the legs moving first but rather it is one's intention to go to the target that will coordinate the whole body to move.

If the Footwork training is just concentrated on the movements of the legs' position and angles, before one contacts with the opponent, of course one can do it without any restraint. But after contact and under the situation of pressure, the mobility of the top part of the body will be hindered. Just depending on the legs cannot allow one to move freely and relaxingly and the lower back will be under the most pressure. Therefore, in order to solve this problem, some may choose to move in side-on to prevent the back directly facing the pressure. This is just escaping from the problem and will not solve the problem. If one can use the whole body mass through the Centre of Gravity and a proper stance, that is the limitation of the mass, and still cannot handle the pressure, it will be even more difficult for one to solve the pressure and movement problems by just using the legs. 

In this article, the question of whether it is better to move in front-on or side-on is not the point of discussion because which way one should be using in confronting an opponent will depend on the actual situation at that time. The aim of mentioning front-on and side-on here is to elicit thinking and discussion and hopefully a better method can be discovered to utilize the mechanical structure of the body to its full potential in dealing with the opponent, instead of just doing something to solve one problem and cause more problems which means the body cannot respond properly and naturally.

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