Bruce Lee fans know his take on water – it can flow, it can crash, “Be water, my friend”, that whole bit. I do not mean to sound flippant. He is correct. However, there is something more to it.
Sifu Fong talks about sinking down. He also talks about being relaxed. Frankly, there is nothing much more relaxed than water, and water – unlike gases – always seeks the lowest point. It sinks. Water is as relaxed while constantly sinking as it is possible to be.
The human body is mostly water. A fetus is almost completely water. A toddler is about 80% fluid. The average adult is about 72%, with old folk like me clocking in around 50%. In most cases, we are more water than not.
I do not want to get into the whole “drink a lot of water” thing. You already know that, and most likely, you have found what works for you. At my age, if I drink a huge glass of water before bed the health benefits of the water are greatly reduced by the lack of sleep from constantly having to pee. There is a time to drink a lot, and a time not.
What I want to emphasis is that relaxed sinking. This is critical to Wing Chun and all martial arts. In Wing Chun, we do not want to root ourselves, like a tree. We want to be able to move, be fluid, though we do want to be heavy in a way.
At first, it takes a concentrated focus. We get so concerned with strength we tend to tense up our bodies. Tension is the exact opposite of a relaxed state. Understand that relaxed does not mean loose – disconnected. Water clings to water, the science concept of cohesion.
When the body tenses and becomes rigid, perhaps during a punch, force against the object travels back into the body as a whole. The puncher can be easily moved. When relaxed and sinking, the weight of the puncher travels into the object. Any recoil or backlash travels through the puncher and into the air or ground, like ripples through a pond. The pond does not move, it is not torn apart, the energy passes through it.
When you practice Wing Chun or whatever martial art you train in, relax. Laugh a little. Sink down, seeking that lowest level while still being able to control your movement in a fluid manner. Set aside thoughts of perfection or of beating the other person. To use a cliché, go with the flow – like water.