Posture, stance, and breathing are the three most important foundations of any technique. Posture is an important part of any stance. Posture is correct body and spine alignment.
The spine consists of 24 moving bones supported by muscles. Pairs of nerve roots exit the spine from between these interlocking bones called vertebrae. The spinal column is an essential link between the body and the nervous system. The extremities are all controlled by the information sent through these links. When there is abnormal pressure or tension on the vertebrae, information from the spinal cord is hampered. Good posture keep the nervous system operating correctly.
For correct posture
- Neck and back should be straight and natural (not stiff) so the back muscles can transfer body pressures to the feet. Allow the body to assume its natural condition (relaxation) without any forced intent.
- Neck should be relaxed so the head is floating independently from the body, if head was hanging from the ceiling. When you release tension in the neck, the head will naturally float upward.
- Keep tailbone pulled in to lengthen the lower back. The body pressures are handled by the back, the neck does not participate.
- When executing a technique, if the mind is concentrate on the head, you will reach forward and the upper torso will lean. Concentration should be from lower stomach (Tan-den) outward, so the enter of mass adds to the power of a technique.
Many people ignore these points and just imitate the outer form, the result is:
- Strengthening bad habits of movement
- Techniques that are limited to the muscular ability of the arms or legs
- Greater chance of injury
If the posture is right, then:
- Breathing is unrestricted.
- Body action will be smooth and quick.
- Muscles action may achieve maximum contraction or expansion. You must not confuse muscle relaxation with collapse and loss of posture.
- Good posture will prevent back injury and may help improve existing injury.
When trying to maintain good posture, you should "let" muscles maintain posture rather than trying to use muscles to "do" something to maintain posture. Allow the body to assume its natural condition, which is relaxation. When you release the tension in the neck, the head will lift. The torso will lengthen naturally when a one learns not to compress the spine. This lengthening is the natural result of pulling the head upward.
Poor posture robs energy from the body. The better the postural alignment; the better the functional performance. Ideal posture occurs when the muscular-skeletal system functions most efficiently. Poor posture causes greater stress in the stabilizer muscles and joints and therefore increases the chance of injury. Good posture and alignment leads to better balance, agility, and even faster recovery from a workout.
A good posture allows us to use the center of the body, the base of effective techniques. All techniques and movement of legs or arms are controlled, initiated, and stabilized from this center. The center of mass of the body is located about 2 inches under the navel and toward the middle of the body (a point called the tan-den). Technically, we create energy from the center of the body by dynamics: rotation, vibration, shifting, dropping, lifting, or pendulum motion, and by using the breath to control the contraction and expansion of muscles. These energies extend and transfer to the other parts of the body depending on the technique.
- Keep centered. The center of the body serves to transfer energy between the impact point a strikes and the floor, via the feet, and it acts as a stabilizer against impact shock. With firm center, energy will transfer smoothly. Energy transfers best in a straight line, therefore, when posture is misaligned, energy is wasted. Another problem with posture is imbalance between the front and back muscles. In life, we do much more flexion than extension, which leads to shortened abdominal muscles and a weak back. Most techniques to the front require use of the back muscles. Neglecting the body center results in more injuries and not fulfilling your potentials. Articles by prominent conditioning and athletic coaches and researchers stress the importance of developing the “core” of the body to enhance athletic performance and to prevent injuries. Those articles always mention martial arts as example of good use of the body center. The center of the body serves to transfer energy between the impact point a strikes and the floor, via the feet, and it acts as a stabilizer against impact shock. With firm center, energy will transfer smoothly. Energy transfers best in a straight line, therefore, when posture is misaligned, energy is wasted. Another problem with posture is imbalance between the front and back muscles. In life, we do much more flexion than extension, which leads to shortened abdominal muscles and a weak back. Most techniques to the front require use of the back muscles. Neglecting the body center results in more injuries and not fulfilling your potentials. Articles by prominent conditioning and athletic coaches and researchers stress the importance of developing the “core” of the body to enhance athletic performance and to prevent injuries. Those articles always mention martial arts as example of good use of the body center.
- Stand erect. Keep your upper body vertical; do not slump or lean in any direction. Beginners tend to lean backward or forward at the waist. Tense the lower abdomen and buttocks enough to make the body firm but not stiff. You are tryiing to make yourself look large and intimidating, not like a stiff cardboard cutout.
- Head and shoulders. To protect the head and neck, drop your shoulders, pull them together, and pull head down into the neck, while keeping the body and head upright and chest held high. Leading shoulder is slightly raised. Keep your chin down and pulled inward, while keeping your head vertical so you have clear vision of your target. Face head in the proper direction. Do not exaggerate the movements or make the movements feel unnatural. Keep chin soft. Eyes appear as if looking from deep inside at center of the head, “shooting” energy forward.
- Arms and hands. Keep arms up in front of body to guard the upper chest area. Keep hands high enough to protect the head while keeping elbows tucked close to the body to protect ribs and solar plexus. As long as opponent is beyond an arm's reach, keep hands low enough that you may to see opponent’s feet. When opponent is within an arm's reach, hold hands a little higher but do not block your vision of the opponent’s upper body. At this close range, trying to see your opponent’s feet through your hands would expose you to a hand attack.
- Hips. Power and speed comes from hip snap. Coordinate hip movements with body movement.
- Abdomen. Keep lower stomach firm—“shoot” your ki forward from the tan-den. Upper stomach slightly presses backward, to allow using the back as a base and to stabilize the lower spine.
- Tailbone. Hold tailbone in—do not tilt the body externally, simply lengthen the spine.
- Knees. Knees are always bent; never lock the legs. The angle of the knees should not become acute since sharp angles interrupt the transfer of power through the knee joint. Also, avoid wide angles since they reduce the amount of power generated by the muscles on either side of the knee.
- Feet. The feet stay parallel to the floor during movements, do not raise the heels. Slightly lift the toes of a stepping foot so they do not stub on the floor; this also prevents the heel from rising. Lead foot position dictates body position, as foot turns inward, the body is more protected; however, turning it too much will slow your attacks.