Wujido 101: Basic Stance Training; Attention Stance, Open and Close

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attn_01For those who have participated in formal training in karate, taekwondo, and other forms of bushido there are formal stances and postures that are part of the training.  Although the attention stance is not generally used so much in kungfu training in America and other places it is valuable as a tool for self-discipline and keeping order in a classroom setting and to display respect to higher ranks in martial arts systems in general.  In many modern settings it has been abandoned but with often a very negative effect on discipline and character development.  Why does one suppose it has always been a very fundamental part of basic training in the military world-wide?

How to form Attention

So because we are teaching a martial (military) art we will also begin with and end with an attention stance formation for classes, kata, taeguk, taolu, forms and demonstrations of any kind.  Also included here is a very universal open and close that can be used.  Wujido uses a different salutation depending upon the original system of wushu the particular participant is using.  For instance, the snake system has a different salutation than the dragon system, and this goes also with north and south style as well.  So the origins are respected and the salutation of that particular sect of wushu are acknowledged.

Several points should be observed in the attention stance.  The feet are held together toe to heel as shown in the photograph.  Note the hands are flat on the side palms in, the waist is level abdomen held in with chest held up but without undue tension.  The shoulders are squared up and level, the spine is straight with the lower back slightly pressed down and the inner complex centralized around the perineum held up and tight. The chin is held down and straight and eyes do not look up, down, or side to side but straight forward.

bow_01How to Bow in Open and Close

There are of course many variations to the martial arts bow.  Jujitsu in many systems will perform the bow from the formal sitting posture (zazen) shown below. We will not be instructing this although it is practiced in aikido, jujitsu and other bushido art forms.  Wujido is not that.

In many religions will have the obeisance form of bow to drop down on the knees or even on the belly in some cultures.  We however do not subscribe to these forms and they can be researched by anyone who desires using other sources.  One interesting and historical note however, is that in the oldest of yogic teaching it was admonished that under no condition should one bow so as to touch the forehead to the ground.  This is a most interesting prohibition the meaning of which I will not be discussing in this article.  What follows below is a front and side view of the famous zazen posture which is practiced by many zen (Chan) Buddhist practitioners as well as martial artists and those who practice meditation across the world.

zazen3zazen2

How to make a proper bow

In our system bowing functions as a sign of respect, a greeting, and a salute.  The Chinese greeting with the hands clasped in a rounded fashion and shaking to and fro in a relaxed and friendly manner is an excellent greeting and should not be regarded as some sort of threat or religious violation to those who hold strongly fundamentalist views.  This meaning is just not there.  The salutations fist in hand however in their specialized capacity often were in meaning something like gang signs with certain groups having very specialized forms of salutation.  Our view here is that the student will not pose this toward a higher rank in the more formal attention and bow context.  The meaning of the fist in hand is technically a veiled threat (gang sign) and as such should never be used out in the public as a greeting or toward your teacher, Shifu, Sensei, Shihan, Dashi, master.  You will find if you use it in public as a greeting to other martial artist they will instinctively understand this, see the veiled message and not regard it much or over-react, but they will know.  But if you walk down the street and some stranger shows you a gang sign or puts fist in palm toward you, you should well be wary of that person.

The bow should come from the attention stance and bend from the waist.  Do not bend over much in any event.  Your eyes should not be averted toward the ground as is often done in an act of submission.  Just bow for respect, hands to the sides (no threat) and recover into the attention stance.  Keep your self-respect and respect your teacher.  Even if you are in a different environment (a seminar or otherwise) and you show this respect to the teacher he will respond very positively to you.