Joint health and WingTsun™
WingTsun™ Kung fu has specific joint health exercises built into its forms. Some might call these exercises part of the “chi-kung” of #WingTsun Kung fu. The first exercise that one learns is the wrist circle. After performing WingTsun’s unique vertical fist punch called the “Sun Thrusting Punch,” the hand is opened the palm is turned up. The arm is outstretched to the front, parallel to the floor and the elbow is locked. The palm is then bent back palm facing toward you, keeping the elbow locked. The fingertips are turned clockwise when using the left hand until they point straight downward. The fingers are then curled toward the back of the knuckles and the hand is quickly clenched as if it were a clamshell closing. This simple exercise is easy to perform, can be done anywhere and, when repeated 10 – 20 repetitions and two sets daily, will reduce any pain symptoms caused by joint deterioration. Such exercises keep the joints “lubricated” by stimulating the body’s natural healing and maintenance mechanisms.
The first set of movements in WingTsun is called Siu Nim Tau. It contains no fewer than 23 wrist circling movements and numerous stretches for the arms and shoulders in delivering various hand strikes. The more advanced forms likewise, have numerous wrist circling movements that serve to stretch and strengthen the hands and the arms. In the Siu Nim Tau form, the lower back is kept straight and not curved in order to preserve the lower back health and keep the body straight for balance. The knees are turned in to strengthen them and create a pyramid shaped body structure for balance.
The second form, called “Chum Kiu” which means “Arm-Seeking Form” contains the basic kicks of WingTsun. The kicks of WingTsun are not delivered above the waist. This is a characteristic of many of the older kung fu systems. It was and still is the idea that a kick above the waist has no practical value other than to show off. Kicks to targets below the waist reach their targets faster however, and severely unbalance an attacker. Joint health, as well as excellent cardio fitness can be maintained by getting proper use of one’s legs through the practice of these basic kicks. The advancing steps and kicks and knee strikes in the Chum Kiu form are practiced in class apart from the form to build endurance, power, and flexibility in the hips. The knee and hips and lower back are the main beneficiaries of the kicking and stepping practice. The circling steps, for example, work the ball and socket hip joint. The proper action is to rotate the thigh at the hip. The turning stance works the ankle joint.
The wrist and other joint exercises continue into the advanced forms.
In this day and age of computer occupations, the benefits of joint exercises in combating repetitive motion syndrome such as carpal tunnel syndrome and others cannot be overstated. A student who has learned these exercises can stop working at intervals to do these exercises and ultimately keep working longer with less fatigue, less shoulder and wrist pain and strain.
Many students have reported increased range of motion in their arms, shoulders and wrists through the practice of WingTsun. Others have reported faster hand reactions in catching falling objects. This is a direct result of increased flexibility from the practice of the many variations of wrist, arm and shoulder exercises that contribute to ease of movement and faster reaction times.
Many generations of WingTsun practitioners going back nearly three centuries practiced and taught WingTsun well into old age. This is an important lesson for us today.
© Copyright 2009 Keith Sonnenberg, All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Permission.