Relaxation is key
This is without a doubt the most useful skill that you will learn in Wing Chun.
Without it, things get complicated.
You need to know that Power and Speed come from Relaxation. So, in my opinion, it is a skill that should be taught to new students right from the beginning.
Having mind & body relaxed, will allow you to make the right move at the right time, it will give you access to your structural power along with your internal power, and it grants explosiveness and lightning like speed.
It can make the difference between winning and losing.
On the other hand, not having a relaxed mind will considerably slow you down.
Trying to be fast and being tight physically, is like pushing the throttle and the brake of the car at the same time. It doesn’t make sense. So, to deliver a blow full power you need to learn to be loose.
Mind and body are connected.
You can’t be stressed mentally and relaxed physically. One influences the other. So, if for example you focus on relaxing muscle, you mind will relax at the same time.
I remember from when I was training karate, that I could never make one technique follow the other in a fluid and stable manner. I was always focusing on strength.
Delivering every blow or block with the most amount of force, so I was very rigid. Like a robot. I didn’t realize that I was actually using only half of my power at the time.
I knew back then that I needed to be reactive, fast, fluid and stable. So when I started training Wing Chun I noticed right from the beginning that it had all the elements I was missing.
So here are 5 ways you can learn to relax yourself for fighting.
1. Relax your mind
So, how do you relax?
It actually starts in the first form.
The idea is to relax your mind first and your body will follow. Think of something that makes you feel good, a walk in the park, maybe something you do at home that makes you feel at peace or simply saying to yourself ‘I am relaxed’.
In the beginning I would use what I heard from Bruce Lee, ‘Be water my friend!’
For some reason, the idea of being like water, in my mind, meant fluidity and power, meant strong and weak at the same time. So I started saying to myself, while doing the first form, ‘I am water’.
That instantly put me in a calm state of mind.
Additionally, I would imagine my arms being full of water, instead of flesh and bone. That made my arms so loose, it was like throwing a rock rather than a punch.
Being relaxed doesn’t mean being flabby, or inert. Being relaxed is like being a spring under pressure, just waiting to well … ‘spring’ into action. A tiger in the pounce is nothing less than relaxed and ready for the kill.
You need to learn to be like a bomb, or a room full of gas. All it takes is a spark to make you explode. They say silence is the mark of greatness.
So learn to silence your mind and be receptive to what happens around you.
2. Relax your body
Another method is straight away relaxing your muscles. By doing so, your mind will follow and be more aware of what’s going on.
A good way is just shaking your hands and legs to loosen up the muscles. This will also allow you to be more sensitive.
I would do this before Goh Zao or sparring. Now, it’s enough for me to think about it that my body follows.
A good indicator of how relaxed you are is checking your forearm muscles. They need to be almost like jelly. That’s when your muscle separates from the bone, and you don’t accelerate and brake at the same time.
When you are rigid, your muscles actually tighten up around the bone. Just like the fingers holding tight to a spear. You have energy being used to hold it tight and energy being used to throw it.
Seeing that your bones are already held in place by muscle, there is no need for you to waste energy on being tight. All you need to focus on is throwing the knuckles as fast and as hard into your target as you possibly can.
When you will do this, your power will increase.
If you exaggerate, punching like this can damage your elbows. The power is strong and if you are used to extending your arm fully when punching, you will feel pain in your elbows when you punch with this kind of speed.
So don’t go full power while punching the air, your elbows are going to feel it in time.
The best is doing this on a punching bag with gloves on, so that you protect your knuckles as well. If they are not conditioned your fists will not be used to so much power.
So what you do basically, is you think about punching a hole in the bag. It doesn’t matter if you don’t. That’s what your mental state needs to be.
Have your forearm muscles relaxed at all time, otherwise you are just using muscle instead of structure.
3. Get what you are missing
One of the fastest ways to learn something in Wing Chun and in life, for that matter, is to ask someone that already knows how to do it.
There should be one person that is very relaxed, very precise and in control of what he or she is doing.
Go ask that person if you can train with him or her. Ask if you can do Chi Zao together, drills and sparring. If you are serious about making progress, that person will see that and it very likely that they will share with you what they know.
Always go for what you know you are missing. And if you are too rigid, this is one of the best ways of learning to loosen up and be more in control.
4. If you want to be fast, you need to learn to be slow
The time you spend in the school is not enough. You need to think about what you are doing between training. Practice it at home. Loosen up while you train in front of the mirror. Do the first form in the morning.
By starting the day with the first form, you put your mind and body in a better state. And you will be much better equipped to handle the day.
Your first actions in the morning, are a good indicator on how the day will turn out, if you are more inclined to getting things done or procrastinating.
So getting up, and doing the first form in a very relaxed and slow manner, as if you were doing Chi Gong, for 10 minutes will change your life. You will feel better with yourself have a better state of mind and be nicer to the people around you.
Think of charging yourself up in the morning with healthy energy.
5. Empty your mind
After you learned to relax, learn to empty the mind.
It is a very similar state to that of relaxing the mind while doing the first form. The only difference is that now, you need to be spontaneous and let the right answer come out.
So, before you start to do any drill, just empty the mind. Take a deep breath and just like dropping water out of a saucer, drop your conscious thoughts and let your subconscious take the lead.
Do this with drills and then move on to sparring.
In this kind of state of mind you are fully aware of your opponent’s movements and it is very useful when fighting long range and you use visual cues to find the right answer.
After that, you need to get ready for a full assault. Use protective gear for you and your kung fu brothers, helmets, gloves, the works.
Have them attack you in groups of two or three. Have them pummel you with punches and attack you ruthlessly.
You will get your ass kicked at first, I guarantee it.
The purpose of this exercise is to get you prepared for real life, for pressure and for you to learn how to control your emotions even while you get your ass kicked.
You need to learn the attitude for this kind of situation, and imagine that they are out to kill you.Bring yourself mentally in that kind of situation so that even in the face of death you learn to keep a calm spirit.
If you want to find the best solution in a situation, your mind needs to be clear.