The Yee Ji Kim Yeung Ma – The Neutral Training Stance.
Now that you have got this far, we will take another look at the training stance. Hopefully the student is now ready for some more ideas about it, and a reiteration of some previous ideas to make them more solid in the memory.
At the end of each section, the student should take a moment to check their stance to see if it is still correct. This check should be done each time this stance is encountered, throughout the entire system and for the entire of the student’s training (and beyond).
The training stance, “yee ji kim yeung ma” or neutral stance is the most important thing you can learn to do right in the entire system.
I call it the “neutral” stance, only because of the hand position. It’s a standard resting position with the hands pulled back to the sides. Barry used to get us to stand in this stance when we were waiting or listening to him talk about what we were supposed to be doing. The stance alone, I usually call the training stance, and this too is used throughout the entire system. It is vital to get it right. There are so many implications to it that it would be impossible to list. Basically, doing it correctly is fundamental to the whole system. And usually, it is sloppy as hell. There is a lot of room for improvement all across the board for most students and teachers of VTK.
a. Head up and alert
b. Centre to head vertical and forearms parallel to floor, hands pulled back.
c. Waist forward.
d. Pelvis tilted up.
e. Waist over toes.
f. Thigh vertical.
g. Sloping back to feet.
- Head up and forwards, alertly. Teeth shut together, tongue on the hard palette behind the teeth. This is for protection in a fight, and enables you to breathe correctly. This is also the strongest position for the neck.
- Waist forward, over the toes when viewed from the side. This means the feet are a shoulder width apart at the toes or the balls of the feet. The heels are considerably further out. Shoulders are over the centre of the feet or towards the heels from the side. This means the upper back and head are vertical, and the lower back slopes forwards down to the waist. This position enables you to use the entire upper body strength for hand techniques. The distance trains you to learn where to put your feet instinctively in a fight for maximum stability while maintaining maximum agility.
- Pelvis turned up hard. The waist is also over the knees. This locks the upper and lower parts of the body together, increasing stability and making it possible to use the lower parts of the body to support the hands in striking. You get to use the power of your legs and waist to hit people.
- Thighs vertical, from the knees to the waist. This makes the stance dynamic, so your stepping is faster and springier.
- Knees bent. Not too bent, but not too straight either.
- Forearms parallel to the floor and each other, pulled back behind the body not flaring out. This is a stretch for the shoulders, which slow the punch down while striking. It also enables you to reach further back with an elbow strike.
- Hands are pulled back as far as possible and clenched hard. The hands should be as high as possible without bending the wrists, and without sloping the forearms down to the elbow.
- Shoulders square. This is so you can use both hands in a fight simultaneously with having to move or pivot.
- Feet turned in at 45 (or at the very least 60) degrees, and both at the same angle. This is to strengthen the knee and ankles, and also to teach the angles of attack and defense while moving.
- Feet have equal pressure on all parts. Not more on the edges or the balls of the feet or the heels. Flat.
Some important points to note:
It’s not a static stance. It is quite dynamic. The whole feels like a coiled spring, not at all like you are sitting down or standing still. Everything is sprung into place.
The waist is pushed forward hard, which makes it hard to keep the knees and feet turned in. It is important that the student does keep the feet turned in, regardless of how difficult it is, as the angles will be needed to be instinctive when the student learns ‘tui ma’ and ‘seung ma’ stepping. Not only that, it strengthens the joints and of course the muscles to hold that position. By making the waist forwards (and the hips tilted strongly upwards as well) no matter what, the student learns to not fall over in a fight. Not having your waist forwards, approximately over your feet, you will be ‘sitting on your horse’ and it will not be dynamically forward. By making the waist forwards (and tilted strongly upwards as well) no matter what, the student learns to not fall over in a fight.
The knees should follow the lines of the feet, meaning that they will seem slightly pushed in. Since with the waist so far forwards, the knees tend to push out, and you need to counter this by ensuring the correct line to the feet is maintained. Do not, however, sink the knees down or bent the knees in, as it will make it impossible to move fast. Nor do you allow your knees to point out from the natural line from the waist to feet.
The knees should be bent, but not so bent as to have the very far in front of the waist. There should be pressure on the thighs, not the knees, in stance, so the knees are also kind of being straightened in that position. The thigh bone is almost vertical from the waist to the knees.
The toes should be about directly below the shoulders when looking from the front, and the knees should be seen covering the feet, at around the big toe mark. The thighs are almost vertical, with the waist pushed forwards, about until it is virtually over the toes, or at least the balls of the feet.
From about the solar plexus upwards, the body is again vertical. It is important to not lean back, nor hunch forwards.
Head should be upright, and looking forwards. Teeth clenched firmly but not hard, breathing through the nose, lips squeezed a little against the teeth.
The forearms should be parallel to the ground, with the fist clenched HARD, not open, and withdrawn as close to the armpit while keeping this shape. The forearms should also be parallel to each other, so for most people they need to push the elbows in behind them, until they are parallel.
The fists should also be horizontal, and the wrist should not be bent at all. They should be held in a natural punching angle. Not bent, nor straight with the back of the hand to the wrist to the forearm. If you opened your hand the palm would be pointing vertically upwards. Some people have trouble with this. If so, then they should turn their hands out when they are in the neutral training stance to stretch this.
The blade of the fist should be lightly brushing the body – not resting against it, but not separated by any space either.
Shoulders square, both to the front and to each other. One should not be higher than the other nor should it be in front or behind.
The feet should be at least 60 degrees inwards, preferably 45. The centre of force from the waist should feel somewhat parallel to the ground, but the sinking of the waist should feel pointed towards the ground somewhere about the apex of the triangle formed by the feet, and most definitely not straight under the centre, between the feet. Sink down and forwards, not just down.
For more information, see the other blogs and the in-depth article on this topic.
This completes the Introduction to Siu Lim Tao, or “Opening of the Form”. Now we are ready to move onto the next section, the first section of Siu Lim Tao.