The Wing Chun Centerline
Article by Dan Knight added on 10 Sep 2012. Last updated on 24 Oct 2012.
Ideas about center line theory
What is the Centreline?
Simply, it is an imaginary line that runs vertically in the center of the practitioner. The reason we have talk about a centerline is to give the Wing Chun partitioner, particularly beginners, an idea of where their hands should be, how they should attack and defend etc.
Wing Chun base's its attacks and defence around the centerline in order to maintain Wing Chun principles like economy of motion. For instance if I cover straight attacks on with a Biu Sau on the centerline it pushes the attack just past my body. This means I do not get hit, pushing it any further is, 1. Wasted energy. 2. Means it takes longer for me to return to my guard or counter attack. 3. leaves me open for a counter attack, and possibly also 4. moves me off balance.
Is there a horizontal centerline?
No. Before we look at why there is not a horizontal centerline, its worth re iterating that the centerline is an imaginary line described to help people understand and learn Wing Chun. We have a term for it because we talk about it a lot but it's not a physical object. We do this in the same way we call the first form "Sil Lim Tao" (or little idea) instead of describing it as "a set of movements designed to teach the student of Wing Chun the basic positions of blocks and strikes and how to build and release energy and isometricly train the muscles in the legs to become stronger in order to effectively use the wing Chun Biu Ma stance learned later in the system.".
Hopefully by now you realise the term centerline is there to be useful and help students learn and talk about an idea easily. So to then start adding horizontal and multiple vertical centerlines is not at all useful and just complicates what is other wise quite a simple principle.: "Protect your self by guiding punches out of your center, past your body. Attack along the center so its harder for your opponent to counter attack effectively."
Ip Chun's Response
If you still are not convinced the centerline is simple why not listen to what grandmaster Ip Chun has to say about the topic in a Q&A session when asked "Is the Centerline Vertical or Horizontal or both? "...
Its should be vertical! in order to keep a proper stance we must adjust it depending on the situation....
Taken from Wing Chun Martial Arts: Principles and Techniques by Ip Chun and Danny Conner.