Having discussed the theory, it is time to develop some of the theory into practice. Standing meditation will be practised in class as a ‘warm up’ exercise but can and should be practised at home for longer. Traditional methods of timing the stance was for the time it took an incense stick to burn itself out. Experiment and see what works for you!
The usual stance is the “bear” stance - hands held loosely at the sides of the body. There are about five hand positions with various names depending on the school. Common examples are:
- Bear: as mentioned above
- Table: with hands palm down as if pushing oneself up from a table
- Baby: hands palm up at waist height, as if cradling an infant
- Book: hands as if reading a book at chest height
- Balloon: arms totally round, as if embracing a giant balloon
If you want you can cycle through each of the hand positions (if you want to spend 30 minutes meditating, then spend 6 minutes in each pose) or just spend all the time in one pose.
You shouldn’t get too caught up on the names/positions of the hands, the key is feeling the weight of each joint build on the middle of the foot as each joint relaxes.
Although this exercise is ‘very’ simple, it is key to understanding the ‘wuwei’ position. If you read the Dao De Jing as a Qi Gong manual (there is a version published as such with appropriate annotations) then this is quote is apposite and mentioned often in class:
The Dao gives birth to one, one creates two and from two, myriad things are born.
The stance is putting you in touch with the one - wú-wėi. Once you know how to achieve the wu-wei stance, you will be able to create - yīn (negative energy) and yáng (positive energy) which, in turn, create the multiple possibilities of expressing energy when embodied through wing chun/hung gar/ tai chi forms.
When you take the stance, first allow your body to relax and expand to allow the flesh to separate so that you have a ‘full’ feeling throughout the arms.
Stance can be either southern horse (identical to the wing chun stance with the knees bent, just before the toes):
or northern horse:
Each stance has its own merits: Southern horse stance is less fatiguing on the leg muscles which enables the newer practitioner to focus more on the sensations of sinking and expanding.
The Northern horse stance enables one to develop leg muscles, balance and stretches the hips, enabling the tailbone to be moved further forward to generate more yin.
Wing Chun favours the southern horse stances (except for the pole form which switches to northern horse stances) whereas hung gar uses southern stances… again, don’t get to distracted by stances and forms - the key is sensing when the weight of the limb rests on the middle of the foot.
Written by Andrew Correia (Senior Student)