Sunday, December 22, 2013

One from the Hip

In my previous post, I discussed how I discovered that I'd been slouching while doing the form and how I was trying to remedy it. I've been working on that for a while now and it led to another light-bulb/dope-slap moment.

When doing the Slow Form recently, I've been focusing on what happens with the leg I'm shifting onto when shifting weight from one leg to the other (either backward or forward). My instructors have emphasized in the past that it should feel like the hip is being drawn toward the center of that foot. I eventually realized that my legs needed to be much more active and engaged during these transitions and that the bending of the leg being shifted onto during the transition is what draws the hip to the center of the foot - pretty obvious (and it is) but it's taken me a couple of years to figure out. The problem is that it's still been tricky for me to keep my balance while making the shift.

Once I started working on the slouching issue, this movement started feeling more solid. After puzzling on it for while, I realized that, if I slouch while I am in an bow stance, my weight moves forward and creates tension in the front of my forward leg to overcome the misalignment (i.e. exactly what happens with the ILC rocking drill). When subsequently shifting forward while slouching, since the weight is shifted forward, it's difficult to smoothly sink the weight into the center of the foot. Holding my torso erect removed the excess tension from my forward leg and, when shifting, allowed the weight to sink smoothly from the torso, through the hip, to the center of the foot. This change also gave me an odd feeling in my hip joints - there was simultaneously more weight in the hips and yet they felt much more able to move freely.

In I Liq Chuan, one of the "13 Points to Unify the Body" is "Kwa - maintain energy in center of the hip joints" - this has always been a mystery to me but I'm finally starting to get an idea about what this means and why it's important.