Sifu Clive Potter



Side Palm Ving

One of the most important aspects of Ving Tsun Kung Fu, is the understanding of centreline theory and thus angles of attack and defence. Indeed, once stance is in place, the first two moves of the first form, Sil Lin Tau, is the tracing out of the centreline, using the arms like the arcs of a compass. (See Figs. 1 and 2)

It is widely recognised in Ving Tsun, that practitioners think of and their opponents as having a centreline as in Figs. 1 and said that if the attacker or defendant turns, then the centreline shifts its position to the side. (See Fig. 3). However, a different and simpler way of thinking of this concept, could be to visualise the centreline as a spindle which travels down through the centre top of the head, through the inside of the body and themselves 2. It is also

out through the groin. (See Fig. 4). This being the case, many of Ving Tsun's theories can become easier to understand. Whether face on or sideways, the centreline is always there, in the same place.


It is important when attacking, to attack the opponent's centreline. To hit either side enables the defendant to turn on his centreline "spindle" and to a certain extent, absorb ¡=jg 3 ¡=jg 4

the blow. (See Fig. 5). Hitting on the centreline itself does not allow the opponent to turn on impact and forces him to move back, upsetting his stance. (See Figs. 6,"a" or "b").

Having said this, turning the opponent on his centreline "spindle", can be used to the attacker's advantage. When offered an outstretched arm, that is one that has overreached its correct elbow position from the body, a palm strike/push on or behind the elbow, directed to one side of the centreline, can turn him, upset his balance and place him in a more vulnerable position (See Fig. 7).

Another aspect of thinking of the centreline as a spindle running through the inside of the body, is when punching. When aiming for this centreline, a punch will have more penetration because instead of aiming to hit with the full extension of the arm on contact, the punch will be executed at a closer distance so that the fist can reach the centreline that runs through inside the body. This also has the advantage of the elbow being bent on initial contact with the opponent, thus maintaining the correct elbow distance from the body for as long as possible and creating a more uprooting force to the opponent's stance.

When attacking an opponent, one must always be sure to be "square on" to his centreline. (See Fig. 8). Overturning past this position when striking, can cause the forward force towards the centreline to be diverted to a different_______

In "Chi Sau" practice it can be said that each practitioner is continuously attempting to line his forces up with the opponent's centreline whilst at the same time trying divert the opponent's forces away from his own centreline. A simple example of this is in Fig. 10.

Fig. 7

Fig. 12

Fig. 8

Fig. 12

"A" punches "B". "B" then executes a high Tan Sau through to a punch at the same time as changing his angle. "A" 's force is therefore towards "B" 's centreline whilst at the same time "B" 's force has been directed away from "A" 's own centreline. This kind of response to a punch has the advantage of hitting back and deflecting the opponent's attack all at the same time. This is therefore a more positive way of responding than blocking and then punching in which two moves are necessary.


When turning, one must turn on the centreline "spindle". This is done using the waist. The area around the waist centre as shown in Fig. 11 turns "as one". The feet should follow the turn naturally and it is important that they turn with the fulcrum near the heel. [i.e. this being the base of the centreline "spindle" (See Fig. 3)]. Turning on the "balls" of the feet will actually shift the body to one side. When blocking, this shift would make the guard less positive and consequently give the opponent space to retaliate. When turning and punching simultaneously it would decrease the forward force of the punch, as the shift on turning would accentuate the equal an opposite force. It is important that the centreline remains stationary when turning.

If when turning, the body weight is wrongly shifted onto one leg, (See Fig.12), then the centreline is again shifted away from the opponent and will again have the same effect as described when turning on the "balls" of the feet. Having the weight all on the back leg also has one other disadvantage. If the turn has been executed with a block to guard the opponent's strike, and he then decides to move forward with another attack, the defendant will find it extremely difficult to retreat or move away. The result could be that he falls backward with his stance uprooted.

Though the turn should be on the centreline without transferring all the weight onto one leg, in practice the centreline may move a little.

However, it should always remain within the body and between the feet. (See Fig. 13). This gives the stance better stability and enables the practitioner to easily move backwards if he needs to. If it is necessary to reposition the centreline in relation to the attacking force, then the whole stance, including the feet, should be moved.

Centreline theory is vitally important in the understanding of Ving Tsun. Using it, means that the body is used in harmony with the arms thus providing more power when striking and more control when deflecting.

Fig. 10
Fig. 13
Fig. 11
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