Sinking the Weight, or the Immovable Pin-Man

Sinking the Weight, or the Immovable Pin-Man

“Sink the weight!” – Certainly this must be one of the phrases which most frustrates inexperienced martial artists. Sensei or Sifu says sink the weight, so the novice forces their body into some sort of squatting stance, “No! Sink the weight!” says Sensei/Sifu, the strained look on his face almost matching that of his student, who is now trying to force himself into a deeper squat, making him look like some sort of demented crab.

So, what the hell does it mean, when this crazy old (not necessarily, but hey, lets run with the stereotype) man is telling us to ‘sink the weight’?

Well, I’d like to try an shed a little light, and hopefully take the strain off of the knees of some of our newer brothers and sisters.

sinking the weightI want you to picture two metal pins, and a small cube of wood. This is going to be your leg.
Stab one pin into a soft tabletop – this is your lower leg. Now, balance the cube of wood upon the top of your lower leg. The cube of wood is your knee. Finally, balance the second pin on its head, on top of the knee/wood – this forms your upper leg.

I’m sure, whether you’re actually trying this or just visualising it in your mind, you can appreciate that this is NOT going to balance. The knee is riding on top of the lower leg, and the upper leg is riding on the knee.
So, what is the problem? Simply – the knee is not soft.

Now, take our pin leg, and exchange the block of wood for a wad of blu-tac. The blu-tac is softer – the upper and lower legs are able to integrate with it on a much deeper level.

So, how does this translate to the physical body?
Quite simply, we need to spend time on softening the joints of the body. By softening, we are able to release excess tension from the muscle groups, allowing us to ‘settle’ into our posture. This softening should be done through all of the joints of the body – the ankles, the knees, the hips, the vertebrae, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists, the fingers… By settling into the posture, we stop ‘riding our bones’, and by doing this we are able to truly sink our weight and create a firm root. This is then the key to unlocking tremendous striking power.

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ashley's picture

Another good article from you James. Thanks! Is it possible for you to explain how we soften the joints of our body? What techniques are used?
Medway Tai Chi Society's picture

I'll try and put another article together.
KarateJake's picture

Start by doing arm circles back and forth gradually making them bigger and bigger so that you are slowly accessing more range of motion from your shoulders, now swing your arms around like you're slashing diagonally across your body while fully rotating your arms (rotate your hips while you're at it for bonus points). Now stand shoulder width apart, put your hands on your hips and fully rotate at the hips like you're trying to hula hoop; slowly make the circles bigger and bigger to loosen up those joints. Now put your feet and knees together, grab your knees and rotate your knees. Pretend you're trying to hula hoop with your knees and slowly make those circles bigger and bigger. <p>If you have ever done lunges then do a really, really deep lunge. You're back leg should be as far back as possible. This should stretch your groin. Now while you're in your super radical lunge, put your hands on your hips and push your hips forward. This will loosen up those hip joints. Basically, if you want to soften your joints you have to move them and try to access their full range of motion. As if you're stretching your joints. Careful not to go too far too quickly. Slowly access the full range of motion in your joints so you don't injure yourself. I hope this helps.
Karate Kitty's picture

Well, what can I say, once again you go and do a great article. I just love reading your work. It is always something new, informative and you explain things so well. I knew I would learn alot on this site, so many inteligent martial artists!! Thanks for the share.
Medway Tai Chi Society's picture

Glad you enjoyed it :)
salde's picture

i like ....thumbs up... thnx 4 info...