Body Mechanics and Artistic Expressions in Wushu Part 2

By Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang and Master Wen-Ching Wu

Derek Cheng - Eagle ClawWushu training also includes sets of principles that the martial arts masters of old discovered and have passed on to their students. One such set of principles is the Eight Principles of Integration which refers to the four physical movements of your arms, your eyes your upper body and your stepping and the four manifestations of your vitality your breathing & qi, your expression of power, and your overall expression. The requirements of these eight areas are summarized in the phrase, "punch like a shooting comet, eyes flash an like electric current, waist turns like a moving snake, steps should be rooted; vitality of spirit should be full and focused, breathing should be sunken, power should be smooth, delivery should be thorough". This phrase is a principle regarding the integration of the whole body.

"Punch like a shooting comet is a requirement of the upper limbs. It requires that the movements of the arms be as fast as a shooting comet. Every movement, including the subtle and intricate movements of the palms and wrists, no matter how small, must be clearly and swiftly executed.

"Eyes flash like an electric current" is a requirement for the head. The movement of your head provides the range of view for your eyes. To be able to react to your opponent's intentions or movements, an alert and swift movement of your head can enhance your reaction speed.

"Waist turns like a moving snake is a requirement for the torso. The upper body movements and the transmission of power from the legs are generally controlled and directed by the waist. The coordination of the vertebrae, and various muscles in the torso play an important role in the many variations of bending, twisting, and jerking movements. The fluid movement of your waist makes it possible to transmit power.

"Steps should be rooted" is a requirement for the stepping movements of the legs. Stepping in martial arts is harder to master than punching. Stepping must not only be fast; it must also provide a firm foundation for the upper body. It is said that, "If stepping is not stable, then the punch will be scattered; and if the stepping is not fast, then the punch will be slow."

Another saying in Wushu states, "Apply the hands 30% of the time, and apply stepping 70% of the time; to become victorious, one must rely on the unity of the hands and stepping. This saying stresses the relative importance of the hands and legs, as well as, the importance of the legs to set up the proper distance for the arms to be effective. It is important that the hands and legs are integrated and coordinated to accomplish proper defensive and offensive techniques.

"Vitality of spirit should be full and focused is a requirement for mental and spiritual expression.If your mind is not focused and lacks vitality, then your movements will lack energy and appear lifeless.

"Breathing should be sunken" is a requirement for your breathing pattern. The term sunken implies that breathing should include the abdomen. With abdominal breathing, martial artists tap into the energy (qi) center for stronger power emission. Breathing is also closely related to the endurance of an individual, since our body converts oxygen into energy that is used for metabolic functions. The proper coordination of inhalations and exhalations with each defensive and offensive application, not only provides for higher endurance, but it also makes it possible to deliver applications more effectively and more powerfully.

"Power should be smooth is a requirement for power emission. Martial artists must be able to emit jin. Without jin, the movements are useless in combat. Also, if jin is not executed properly, the movements will be stiff and power will stay within the body. For jin to be expressed properly, each section of the body must react and relate to the other sections.

"Delivery should be thorough refers to the integrated expression of all other parts of the Eight Principles of Integration; including power, endurance, speed, agility, and technique. Every move in your training must be delivered with proper focus to reach its maximum potential. Your practice should be purposeful, alert, and filled with vitality.