The IRAS - Application versus Theory

why does a martial art focused on close quarter combat, and rapid mobility have with such a rigid stance lack of mobility? This is a problem many wing tsun and wing chun practitioners face when teaching or learning this style of combat. Whether to follow the art as plainly and unquestionably as possible, using the sometimes more abstract movements in wing tsun, and applying it to combat situations. Or to try to look at wing tsun in a different of new light, possibly look to add or evolve with the risk of not being called a “wing tsun practitioner.” Now we must also remember to take some of these movements and practises of wing tsun with a slight view of scepticism.

The internal rotating adduction stance or “IRAS” ( or horse stance) as referred to in the wing tsun community. Is practised in every style, form or relation to the wing tsun or wing chun system. The stance itself whether gives many benefits to the kung fu practitioner, such as the practise of adjusting are readjusting balance, the practise of rooting your body into the ground, training your knees and legs under pressure and the forming isometric “chi gerk” or traditional wing tsun leg shapes into your body. Minus of course the use of wing tsun leg shapes, these are fundamental to a student of any martial practise - the sense of balance and rooting to the ground the at the core of defensive manoeuvres and the deliverance of force is at the heart of all intelligent combat systems. Using your own sense of balance to evade attacks while keeping your own composure, and the sense of rooting to the ground to push off a surface to deliver devastating strikes into your opponent.

However the IRAS is not exclusive to the wing tsun system. It also appears in many Qigong exercises in which the arms reach out almost as if to embrace a tree. Some Qigong teachers say the reason for this to learn to attract energy from the ground, through the legs and backbone to the arms, or even to generate energy from the kidneys. The stance has backgrounds in internal martial arts, but does that explain the focus of rooting and stability in the IRAS, conflicting with the focus of rapidness in the wing tsun style?

why does a martial art focused on close quarter combat, and rapid mobility have with such a rigid stance lack of mobility?

This is a problem many wing tsun and wing chun practitioners face when teaching or learning this style of combat. Whether to follow the art as plainly and unquestionably as possible, using the sometimes more abstract movements in wing tsun, and applying it to combat situations. Or to try to look at wing tsun in a different of new light, possibly look to add or evolve with the risk of not being called a “wing tsun practitioner.” Now we must also remember to take some of these movements and practises of wing tsun with a slight view of scepticism. The art was now completely designed for combat in the modern age. At the very least, wing tsun was designed 300 years ago (some say it was even designed as long as 1000 years ago) to deal with combative situations amoung other kung fu styles. So even though the principles and the core ideology of the combat stays relevant today. The development of the MMA scene, boxing and western styles, along with the exposure of the world’s fighting culture combined and available across the internet and local martial arts business’ - combat has changed drastically from the expected combat wing tsun was design on.

So the issue is not from wing tsun system itself, but the way we must now approach wing tsun. Focusing on developing the forms and movements to deal with the common jab and cross’ from boxing, wrestling and grappling attacks and even attacks from a close ‘bar fight’ range which we face in todays age.

The IRAS is not so suited to such situations. As due to heightened population density in todays cities. We mainly encounter strangers, passers by on the street and especially people in bars and clubs at a very close range - sometimes even uncomfortably so. Dealing with combat or a even a struggle as such a range leaves little room to ground and absorb energy if not ready for the encounter, and the IRAS struggles to absorb front and backward force. Even if you happened to be prepared in IRAS and managed to absorb the first strike, the lack of mobility involved in the stance can leave to exposed to takedowns and counterstrikes as evading will become too slow. This makes the IRAS not very effective for close combat in todays world.

So should be still train the IRAS? Definitely! The IRAS is a valuable part of your training the should not be neglected. More than anything disciples you to focus on yourself. Your balance, your distribution of weight and your connecting with the ground when you are ready to deliver force and more than anything, the focus to keep all these thing in mind when you are doing any kind of training involving your wing tsun stances. It must become your position of mediation on the body unity of the yourself to the ground. This will always be relevant not just to external deliverance of force, but the discipline and focus you must practise internally to always keep in mind why you are doing it.

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