Posture is important both in training and out of the school. It is important in class as it develops proper weighting and balance in most movements (kicks, punches, san shou, shuai jiao, forms, chin na, sparring). Should your posture be off, your technique will be off and your power, speed, fluidity won’t be maximized for optimum results. Outside of class, your posture says a lot to those around you. For those who don’t mean to harm you, your posture can indicate confidence or lack of confidence in your workplace or social environment. For those who do mean to harm you, your posture can tell your assailant a good deal about you as a potential target. For all these reasons, your kung fu training focuses a good deal on maintaining proper posture at all times and you must be especially cognizant of it in your practice.
Both in and outside of school, proper posture is to have the spine – including your neck – roughly perpendicular to the ground. That said, you need to maintain the natural curves of a healthy spine,which has a natural curvature. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of different kung fu styles and some of their principals differ from our school’s, including this principle. At our school, you are to push your stances as low while maintaining a relaxed, perpendicular spine. There are other aspects of posture, such as:
- Shoulders are relaxed and not raised. Any tension in them is released.
- Chest has no tension and is not overly extended. There is no rigidity in the upper torso.
- Chin is not extended out and head is raised upward.
- Lower back must be relaxed and not bent forward or back.
Outside of the school, slumping over tells people around you a great deal. Poor posture is typically a sign of low energy, poor self-esteem, and a general lack of confidence. Simply put, it displays weakness which is something potential aggressors innately recognize and use when deciding who they should prey upon. On the other hand, proper posture – indicating strength and confidence – can thwart potential aggression.
Of course, posture is no substitute for fighting skill, which can only be gathered through hundreds and thousands of hours of intense, proper training. However, it is interesting to think that proper posture is needed to develop fighting skill, yet it is also helpful to prevent fighting in the first place!