The Second Move

2. The Second Move:

Finding your Centre

This seemingly simple move is done in so many ways that it defies categorization. Many of the ways commonly taught go against some or all of the principles of VTK at the outset. While there are several ways to do it reasonably correctly, this is the way we were taught by Barry Lee, which has all the features necessary for good training.

It consists of 3 moves –
A) Finding centre low
B) Finding centre high
C) Elbow withdrawal

finding centre low

Fig. 1  Finding Centre Low

i. Finding Centre Low

See figure above. From the neutral training position, shoot your hands directly downwards from the position they start from. It is a direct straight line, and does not first go to the centre then scissor down, but move directly only. The hands move down aiming slightly to one side, so that your arms cross at the narrow part of your arm just behind the wrist. Elbows should be fully straight, left hand over right, a fist and a thumb distance from your dan tien to the centre of the cross. (The dan tien or tan t’ien is a point about 1.5 to two cun, or one thumb knuckle or two finger widths measurement, below your navel.)

  1. Do not move your feet, legs, knees, waist, head, back etc. Nothing moves except the arms for the entire of SLT, except of course to correct position if and when you lose it.
  2. The arms cross at the point just where your forearm ends and the wrist begins, not actually over the wrists, but at the end of the forearms, at the part of the wrist where you wear a watch.
  3. While you are learning, it is ok to measure the position (except in the first, formal, Siu Lim Tao the class performs together). Measure it by taking the OUTSIDE or left hand, making a fist and a thumb, and measuring from the dan tien to the INSIDE (right) wrist where they were crossed. Check it, then don’t move the hand you measured to, but put the measuring hand back into place, and reaffirm the position before moving onto the next move.
  4. The elbows should be dead straight and locked out completely.
  5. Your fingers should be straight and firmly together, your wrists also straight and not bent in any direction.
  6. Shoulders should be relaxed and not hunched, but quite low and sloping at ease, although square to the front. The back should be straight up and down, but also straight across the back as well, not rounded. They should not really move for the entire of SLT.
  7. Head remains up and alert, looking forwards. Do not look at your hands, but at your imaginary enemy. It also should not really move for the entire of SLT.
  8. The movement is direct and straight, no curves, fancy moves, or anything like that.
  9. Snap the hands into place, just like you would a technique, but remember that it is just an idea. However, good practice means do everything in the correct manner, so it looks like a technique.
finding centre high

Fig. 2  Finding Centre High

ii. Finding Centre High

Without moving your elbows, lift your arms straight up so that the right is on the outside, and the inside is a fist and a thumb from a point that is in the centre of your chest. (The centre is defined as the point 45 degrees down from the corner of each shoulder, approximately an inch or so above the base of the sternum where the ribs meet.) This is where most of your attacks and virtually all of your defenses will come through. You need to rotate your arms slightly brushing, and not make them stick hard to each other, or you will end up with the cross uneven. Most of the points to observe for doing this are the same as for finding centre low, as laid out previously.

  1. Do not move your feet, legs, knees, waist, head, back etc. Nothing moves except the arms for the entire of SLT, except of course to correct position if and when you lose it.
  2. The arms cross at the point just where your forearm ends and the wrist begins, not actually over the wrists, but at the end of the forearms, at the part of the wrist where you wear a watch.
  3. While you are learning, it is ok to measure the position (except in the first, formal, Siu Lim Tao the class performs together). Measure it by taking the OUTSIDE (this time the right) hand, making a fist and a thumb, and measuring from the dan tien to the INSIDE (this time the left) wrist where they were crossed. Check it, then don’t move the hand you measured to, but put the measuring hand back into place, and reaffirm the position before moving onto the next move.
  4. The fingers should be about the same height and in line with the corners of the shoulders, depending on bodily proportions of the individual.
  5. Your fingers should be straight and firmly together, your wrists also straight and not bent in any direction.
  6. Shoulders should be relaxed and not hunched, but quite low and sloping at ease, although square to the front. The back should be straight up and down, but also straight across the back as well, not rounded. They should not really move for the entire of SLT.
  7. Head remains up and alert, looking forwards. Do not look at your hands, but at your imaginary enemy. It also should not really move for the entire of SLT.
  8. Snap the hands into place, just like you would a technique, but remember that it is just an idea. However, good practice means do everything in the correct manner, so it looks like a technique.
  9. Like all VTK, the movement is the shortest and simplest available (to do the job at hand). There are no curves, or fancy moves etc.
  10. The cross moves vertically and does not come in or move outwards in a curve.
  11. The elbows do not move.

The object is to measure your centre. You are using your hands like protractors. You can only find a centre between two points if you do not move the protractor’s axis – the point of origin – or you will not be accurate in finding your centre. You cannot change the plane of the movement either, or you will lose the centre as well. The movements must be independent or you will not keep the centre either. There are many ways to get this wrong. You can move incorrectly, and get the wrong hands on top. Sometimes people move the hands inside, towards the chest, then out again. This is also wrong. Some think it is some kind of block, but it isn’t. We do not use two hands to block a single attack, almost never anyway. We will cover some of these in the next blog.

side find centre high moving to neutral a

Fig. 3  Elbow Withdrawal to Neutral Training Stance

iii. Elbow withdrawal

Return to the neutral training position. See Figure 3 above. As before, it is a straight line movement, very similar to the elbow withdrawal of the first move, during stance setup, in virtually all respects except the starting position is different.

Pull your hands, using the elbows, straight back to the final position, don’t move the hands in a curve. As you pull back, the fists clench and are fully clenched (hard) at the end of the movement. Everything in short straight lines, with a powerful ending. Once you can do it well, it should be pulled back HARD.

So far, nothing except the arms should have moved. Since people are not perfect, it is likely that you did move the rest of the body. Now is the time to check that, and fix it.

Neutral training stance 3 views

iv. Neutral Training Stance

This section, like all the others, ends where it started, in the Neutral Training Stance. This is a good time to reaffirm  your training stance before starting the next movement. Waist and feet are very important, but facing and elbows back with fists clenched are important too. Pay attention to all the details.

  1. Shoulders over the toes from the front, waist over the toes from the side (make sure your stance is wide enough, and make sure your waist is forwards).
  2. Waist forwards, over toes. Pelvis turned up. Thighs vertical.
  3. Forearms parallel to the floor and each other, pulled back behind the body not flaring out. Hands back as far as possible and clenched hard.
  4. Head up and forwards, alertly
  5. Shoulders square
  6. Feet turned in at 45 or 60 degrees, and both the same angle. This is the main problem commonly found in students during this stance.

 

 The next blog will deal with Centreline Theory.

 

2 Comments

  1. H-man

    Reply

    I think you you mean “compasses” instead of “protractors” where the elbows are the needles of the compass and the centreline is the perpendicular bisector of the horizontal line connecting the elbows.

     

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