Structure:

In the chaos of an assault you do not take and stay in a “stance”; however, you do have structure and you do hit and leave positions where structure is vital.

In martial arts there are various approaches or methods. Everyone will find their method, their approach.

What works for one may not work for another.

I cannot tell anyone their method is wrong for them, just that I have found one I believe is efficient and effective. I built (and continue to build) my method on principles I find give me the most efficiency and effectiveness and I can describe and explain the why for each in detail.

People are welcome to choose their own method.

I say this because my method and approach for structure is different from some others and I make no claim to have the answers just ones that work for me.

Here are my views on structure and how to find your best base.

Structure: Everything comes from structure and everything goes into to structure.

Structure begins with aligning your skeleton to require the least effort to hold in place. If it were possible to take each bone and stack them one on top of the other in perfect balance until you had our human frame work, then that is the perfect human skeletal structure and what we seek.

In reality, the skeleton will not stand on its own it requires the human coverings and support. We must use some muscle to hold ourselves upright. But how much is needed? What we really want is to use the least amount of muscle to hold ourselves in position. This would allow us to remain loose and our muscles available for other uses – such as moment.

This is the structure I want. And this is where my approach will differ from others. I do not hold my stance in place with tension. Tension never improves anything and detracts from almost everything. I will not create a structure that requires tension to hold in place.

Again, this is my method.

If you would like to explore my approach to structure, because it leads into everything else I do, then I have a drill you can work on by yourself and explore what I am trying to express here.

Working through this drill I want you to leave behind anything you have been taught about any stance you have learned. Just leave it behind and explore this drill for how it makes you feel and what it makes you aware of.

Step 1:

Stand with your feet parallel about a shoulder width apart (neutral stance).

Let your arms hang down loosely at your sides.

The goal is to align your skeleton on your base (feet) so that you use as little muscle as possible to hold yourself in place. Stay loose. Feel like you are stacking each bone on top of the next, like plates on a table.

Work until you find that loose comfortable structure that is in perfect balance and can be held for a long time without tiring.

Centre yourself over your base and release as many muscles as you can and remain standing.

Step 2:

Take that balanced neutral stance.

SLOWLY lean your body forward off balance right to the edge of falling over but don’t. Pull yourself back to that stable balance and settle feeling the recovery of structure, stability and balance.

Repeat.

As you lean slowly feel your muscles engage to hold you from falling over. If you can’t feel the ever-increasing engagement, then slow down until you can. Feel them release as you return to balance.

Repeat this leaning backwards and to each side.

Step 3:

If time has passed since the first two steps repeat them.

Lean forward to the edge and pull back slightly but not to balance. Now begin to circle your body around your base.

Go slowly and feel both the muscle tension and the muscles shift to hold you up and correct for the lack of balance.

At the end of the rotation bring yourself back to balance and feel everything loosen again, then repeat in the opposite direction.

Step 4:

Take the balanced neutral stance and lean forward to the edge and bring yourself back into balance and settle.

Now, start lessening how far you lean and see what the slightest lean you can make is where you can feel the muscles engage and your balance is compromised even by the smallest amount.

Repeat this backwards and then to each side and then in the rotations.

Step 5:

From that balanced neutral stance move one foot forward the distance of YOUR average step.

Find that settled loose balanced position again.

Repeat leaning and feeling the difference between a balanced structure and an off balance one held in place by tension.

Step 6:

Take that step forward position and find your balance.

With your front foot rotate it on the ball moving the heel out about the same width as it is (your heel).

Arms hanging loose at your sides bend your elbows to 90 degrees.

Now, loosely swing the elbows UNDER until your arms come to your guard position.

If you swung your elbows under you should not feel any tension in your chest to hold them in place. Elbows are loosely swung into position they are not pulled in and held by muscle tension.

From this position work all the steps again feeling where you have lost balance and need muscle to stay structured.

Addition:

I do not tuck the tailbone as is done in some systems including some Uechi practice. If you are having problems finding the right point for your centre over your base then use this “trick” to discover it. Take the foot forward position I’ve described. Bend forward at your hip/thigh joint, now tuck/pull the tailbone up and under, then bring yourself back upright. You will find you do not have the tailbone tuck but you will have your centre over the centre point of your base and your spine will be nicely aligned.

The position I have hoped to bring you to in this drill is one that is functional. It is well structured held together by properly aligned skeleton, minimal muscle use and engagement of the elasticity of the body. It is loose meaning it can change move in any direction and any moment (that’s another drill). It is an efficient and effective self defence structure to work from.

Consider exploding form your current structure into any direction and then try exploding out of this one.

There are other self defence benefits from this simple drill but we’ll discuss those perhaps after you’ve given this a try.

Let me know if you try it and what you discovered: wilson@wpd-rc.com