Wing Chun is a highly logical and sensible Gung Fu system that was scientifically designed for and based on human body motions. Ng Mui and Yim Wing Chun built the ultra-effective and economic system of close-range combat practiced today based on geometry, physics, physiology, and philosophy. Complex concepts and principles govern how skilled fighter instinctively applies their techniques. But, of all the ideas and principles that distinguish the system, one is so fundamental to Wing Chun’s fighting strategy that it can be referred to as the “Backbone of the System.”
This “idea,” known as the “Centerline Theory” (Joong Seen Lay), entails recognizing, using, and manipulating an imaginary line or plane that connects two fighters, as well as the relationship of that line or aircraft to various bars and angles of attack and defense. Because the Centerline Theory is based on geometry, two fighters’ motions and postures are referred to as lines, triangles, planes, pyramids, and angles rather than stances, punches, and kicks. As a result, the Wing Chun student must be able to visualize them as such, effectively “depersonalizing” the opponent, himself, and the blocking and attacking motions used by both during combat, allowing all elements to be viewed clinically. This ability is developed through many hours of intense practice on Sticky Hands, sparring, and drills, all of which accustom the student to dealing with relentless attack pressure while remaining calm under fire. While the student may initially flinch or panic when attacked, he will soon begin to view oncoming kicks and punches as routine everyday occurrences, more like “fodder” for technique practice than a severe threat.
At this point, the student can see the lines, angles, and pyramids formed by both fighters and the implications for his structure. This emotional detachment enables him to apply the Centerline Theory. To eliminate the adverse effects of tension, fear, or anger, which can impede the effective use of the Centerline strategy, the Wing Chun fighter must learn to remain calm and relax the mind, even amid all-out combat.
Although the Centerline Theory may appear complex and even a little too confusing to apply in a real-world combat situation at first, the Wing Chun student will discover that once the core concept is grasped, using the Centerline strategy becomes more and more natural. In other words, without consciously thinking about it, the student will begin to apply the Centerline Theory instinctively in conjunction with all other key concepts and principles of the system. Before delving into the Centerline Theory, the major components of its operation must be identified and defined. Once these elements are fully comprehended, the reader can see how they interact to form arguably the most scientific and efficient approach to unarmed combat. The “Motherline,” “Self-Centerline,” “Centerline Plane,” “Attack and Defense Pyramids,” and “Centerline Advantage” (also known as “Inside Centerline”) are the major components of the Centerline Theory, as is the concept of the Giu Sau Error. The following is a detailed examination of each.