Monday, July 24, 2006

The Geometry of Bridging

Back when I took Wing Chun with Stanley Jue and Jerome Majeed, Stanley brought his wife to the school because he was instructing her on Wing Chun at home. Amy was a fiesty fighter, and I discovered one day while sparring against her that while I was more than a foot taller than her, she was definitely landing more hits on me than I expected. What's more, I found that I was having a really hard time blocking her attacks! What turns out to have been my disadvantage was geometry. While Amy could punch straight across at my stomach, I actually had to reach down to block her, causing my arms to be shorter and throwing off my timing against her.

Let's put it another way. You're standing opposite someone of equal height and reach to you. If you reach out and just touch them with the tip of your fingers on the collar bone and they reach out for your belt, because of the angle they must cross, they will actually not be able to touch you. This is the bridging geometry principle we will use to our advantage with the high bridge parry called Dai.

Dai means "carry" and we're going to use it to carry high bridge attacks up and away from us. If your opposite thrusts for your face, they are probably attacking over your sword and raising their attack to form a high bridge. Let the tip of your sword drop and lift your hand so that the handle moves up and the blade of the sword kind of drags behind lazily. Meet your opposite's blade with the flat of your blade and carry it into a higher bridge just over the top of your head. Adjust the angle so you don't just slip past them and still get stabbed in the face. I like about 45 degrees. You might also rock back a little as you do this. The shortening caused by the rising angle and you slight rock back will cause them to fall short! When you become more practiced, try lifting their blade into the space next to your head and above your shoulders. You are now able to protect yourself from high bridge attacks with Dai!

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