Circular Styles versus linear

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Circular Styles versus linear

Postby Balloo » Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:29 pm

I know with every linear move there is still a degree of circularity, and vice versa. However, I have always preferred linear moves to circular. I have found that the linear moves take less time and arrive faster to the target (simple physics). I have sparred with circular styles (primarily hung gar) and I find that the long arm movements left my partner open to linear attacks (I use wing chun). I know circular styles are good, and I have a great deal of respect for them, but I find that when I try to study one I always lose faith in the long moves in favor of shorter ones. This has unfortunately led me to something of a bias for linear arts. What I am really asking, is this. Is my opinion flawed and or incomplete? To me it is simple physics, linear is faster, circular is less energy. I understand each move has elements of linear and circular, it is inescapable (yin-yang) but are the wide moves necessary when you can use shorter faster moves? For instance, Hung gar used many wide swinging movements, and I just thought they were wasted motion. I would love some other opinions, sorry for the length.
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Postby yat_chum » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:52 am

Wing Chun Kuen does have circular attacks such as Jao Sau (running hand) although they are not often used and tend to be small tight movements.

The advantage of circular attacks is that when adrenalin kicks in your vision becomes blinkered only focusing on what is directly ahead of you. Circular attacks are designed to take advantage of this tunnelled vision by coming in from outside of it.
yijing zhidong

use stillness to overcome movement
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Postby Josh Young » Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:08 am

I thought that via simple physics that the circular motions have more power via leverage and more speed via a fulcrum.

It seems you are conflating distance traveled with time required for travel.
A wide circular movement has a fulcrum that is very small, because of the this same circular movement in a large circle or a small circle is the same speed, the smaller tighter motion is no faster than the larger circular motion, but it has more torque.

The source of momentum is also key here, if it is muscular contraction and tension then it is going to be slower than relaxed motion.

If you hold onto a stick and turn your body, the end of the stick that is away from you arrives at the exact same time as the part you are holding does, the end travels at a higher rate of speed for distance traveled. This related to application of circular motion where the smaller circles have more torque and the larger circles have more velocity, but they are actually the same speed of rotation due to the fulcrum.


When people use muscular tension then the linear will always be faster than the circular, however when someone is relaxed and uses no excess tension the circular is much faster than is often realized and has properties that the linear motion cannot have due to the multiple angles of pressure that can be generated.

I like wing chun a lot, some branches of it should be considered among the internal arts, though some are very external.

I would say that the idea that linear is better, or the idea that circular is better is flawed. Neither is superior and they both work against the other with proper timing and technique. It is much easier to practice linear motions by the thousands though, so for Wing Chun I'd expect the linear motions to be more well developed in its players than the circular.

Then again this is just my experience and opinion. I have had basic training for Wing Chun and it was very nice, for my interests I found it a little too linear, but I still employ many principals from the art.
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Postby Balloo » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:49 am

Thank you both I will think about what you have said.
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Postby lilman » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:19 am

This is what my teacher taught us on the subject.

There's a saying the quickest way to get from point a to point b, is a straight line. But look at it this way, if the straight line is 3 feet and your circle is one foot, and the straight line is 3 times faster they arrive at the same time. The secret is, if the opponent attacks with a straight line, use a smaller circle. If they attack with a large circle, use a smaller straight line. The circle has more momentum and more leverage, and either can have fa jing. So the adjantage depends on the situation. You say more linear but taijiquan has the circle and the straight line, and so does xinyi and bagua.
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Postby yeniseri » Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:11 pm

One is not superior to the other!

Circularity is more of a deflection/parry then linear force takes over and does its thing! As in tuishou (single hand), the opponent pushes towards you. you then parry/angle/divert and he should be on you so you aim towards his throat or chest (linear) that has opened up by his over-extension. This happens with no resistance or laziness, or lack of skill on his part so it is not meant to apply to all. This is where the strategy of arts like silat, escrima, etc are more easily upfront with ready made tools as opposed to "study my art for 6 years and I will tell you the secret" scenario.
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Postby Ralteria » Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:38 pm

I say spiral...with circular or straight
Caution...Wisdom may cause bruising.
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