In this article, I will show you how to train with a tennis ball. I will discuss how to practice stillness training or Zhan Zhuang/ (站桩) Siu Nim Tao (SNT) and the basic energy punches.
There is a Wing Chun saying:
“Beginning students should not use strength
For many beginners, the first thing what comes to their mind when thinking about martial arts is strength. True strength is important. However, beginning students should focus on awareness of proper structure and technique. With awareness, you can develop good technique and structure much faster.
Strength will follow when you have mastered these fundamentals.
Stillness training and SNT
Here I will discuss stillness and SNT training with the tennis ball.
Take a tennis ball in both hands. Assume a basic even stance with your hands/ wrists touching your ribcage.
Lift the top of your head and stretch your spine slightly.
Relax and sink your hips.
Have a slight bend in your knees.
Breath in lower our diaphragm and expand your belly. Breath out, return to your original state.
Relax and feel the tennis balls in each hand. Imagine they are precious, like you holding a piece of gold. Put your mind equally in both tennis balls. Hold them gently, don’t squeeze. Feel the shape and material of the tennis balls. You don’t need strength to carry it. So, relax and avoid any tension and strength.
When you have reached that stage, spread this feeling to the rest of your body. Start from the top of your head down to your feet. Breath in and notice any strength, tension or uneasiness, breathe out and let go of all tension. Throughout this process, feel how the tennis ball “merges” with your body.
Practice 3-5 minutes, then practice SNT at the same time. Keep your meditative frame of mind. First section only, Tan, Wu and Fook Sao.
Do this sequence as often as you wish, but at least 2-3 times.
The power from the Wing Chun punch is from your body structure, timing and accuracy, not from muscular contraction. Instead, we use our tendons and ligaments for relaxed power. There are, however, a few punches where we use muscular contraction. For instance, thrusting, cutting and sinking punch. The contraction is at the point of impact, not at the onset. If you do, it will slow you down. Muscular contraction causes immobility.
Let’s do a small experiment. Take your tennis ball, squeeze it and punch. Now relax completely and punch as if you throw away your hands. The latter is a relaxed punch and your hand will snap back. Hope I made my point.
The skill is to consciously “turn on and off” your muscles. We call this linking and de-linking. Now practice the following boxing drills with a relaxed body, using body structure and momentum.
Eight (8) energy punches
Basic 1-5 and 6-10 punching combos
The tennis ball is a useful object to learn how to relax and get feedback when you train alone. You can practice standing mediation (Zhan Zhuang), SNT and the basic energy punches. Train slowly, with a relaxed body and mind. These are important traits for learning Wing Chun and many other arts.
Do not focus on power. You will develop this naturally after you have learned and mastered the Wing Chun fundamental techniques.