Kung Fu Training: Sum Chien – The Heart of Shaolin, Part 3: Posture

January 3, 2018 Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat

A very straight back in Sum Chien training. Martial Arts Instructor Michael Worthman at Nam Yang’s Thailand training camp.


A straight spine works like a straight axle around which the torso can pivot.  More to the point, when the spine is straightened, the energy centres that are positioned along it are lined up like magnets stuck to each other.  This forms a straight path, connecting the Yang Chi of the Heavens with the Yin Chi of the Earth, thus harnessing a very powerful energy.

Finally, a straight spine under the correct type of tension can be bent in one direction or another so as to hold energy then fire it out – like a bow that has been stretched, releasing its energy into an arrow.

A torso which pivots freely around a straight spine can redirect an opponent’s force with ease.  The straight spine is, in effect, the centre line – which is often discussed in kung fu theory, and of course practised throughout kung fu training.

Lining up your energy centres allows you to draw on powerful chi, but the spine must be upright as well as straight, so that the crown point really does point to heaven and the root point really does point to Earth.

Using the spine to hold and release energy is an advanced skill.  Many forms of the Shaolin white crane art use a very pronounced bending and straightening of the spine to release energy.  Our art uses small, subtle movements – and with correct timing and physical conditioning these can produce the same degree of power, but because the movement remains very fast and hard to see or to feel, it is very hard to counter.

If you’d like to understand more about how to weaponise your posture, the Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat offers world-class kung fu training amongst some of the most spectacular surrounds in all of Thailand. Contact us today.