Hip & groin

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No hip

Asian people sometimes comment that Westerners have 'no hip'. This is because Westerners are less inclined to squat and crouch.
Often the body looks stiff and inflexible. Sadly, this rigid appearance often reflects the actual condition of the individual.

Bending at the hip

Hinging forwards at the hip joint is something that new starters must learn to do.
For many people it is very unfamiliar. They are used to bending at the rib cage/abdomen/lower back and often confuse hip and pelvis.

A crane

If you look at a crane being used on a construction site there is a long arm and on the opposite side there is a counter-balance to prevent toppling.
The human body is quite different to a crane, but the same principle can be employed.
Providing the body remains vertically aligned, we can bend at the hip joint without toppling forward or leaning. The pelvis and buttocks serve as the counter-weight.


Bending at the hips trains the body to hinge at the hip rather than slouch, stoop or lock the legs.
Without an ingrained ability to bend at the the hip, the student cannot use the hip kwa nor explore 5 bows and ultimately jing.

Keep your length

Hinging the hip joint enables the front of the body to lengthen and the spine is supported.
Bending should occur in the hips, not the lower back or waist. Correct bending frees up the waist and allows rotation to occur without impediment.


If you plan to lift anything up you will need to bend the knees and squat.
Lifting a heavy object from the ground using a hip bend will strain the lower back. Squat instead. Draw the object closer to your torso. Then stand.

Bad lifting technique

Most people are quite aware of how to lift things correctly but many people ignore the advice.
Hurried, sloppy lifting - with little or no adhesion to good structure and alignment - can lead to problems.
Take the time to learn how to lift things properly. There is a bounty of free information on-line. It is not complicated.
You just need to keep your mind on what you are doing, be sensible about the weight and use your body well.


In terms of horizontal rotational movement, leave the hips alone. Think of movement originating from the back of the body, not the front.
The sacroiliac enables the spine to stay erect without unduly involving the hip joint or unbalancing the knees.
Allow the natural stopping point of the pelvis to determine how far you can turn.

Wide stepping & kicking

When stepping through a wide angle or performing a kick, the hips need to be capable of opening easily and comfortably.
This is where many people encounter a problem. Inflexibility of the groin actively inhibits hip movement and the body simply cannot perform the desired action.

Hip kwa

Once the hip bend is familiar, work on relaxing the kwa on the vertical plane during tai chi practice. This will increase your connection to the ground.

Groin flexibility

It is quite easy to improve groin flexibility. Begin by sitting less and walking more often.

Open your groin

We offer a wide range of exercises designed to build up groin flexibility safely and carefully:

  1. Leg stretches

  2. Psoas exercises

  3. Form

Many of the stretches are passive; they allow body weight to do the work - rather than forcing an outcome.

Martial practice

Groin flexibility is crucial for martial arts training. An inflexible groin adversely affects mobility and prevents the lower body from operating freely.
Instead of the body responding to the dictates of the mind, the student is trapped by their own tension.
Martial arts require free, spontaneous movement and this is simply not possible when the groin is tight.

Make time

Students usually underestimate the significance of fitness; falsely believing that it doesn't really matter. This is highly naive.
Fitness affects all aspects of our lives. It determines to some extent how healthy we are, how often we get sick and how well we can use our bodies.
Make time to comprehensively exercise your body... After all, you are using it all the time.
A healthy, strong, fit body is a delight to use; you can move in almost any manner you like and everything works gracefully and smoothly.

6 balanced pairs

When a student can squat easily and perform a horse stance with ease, it is worth thinking about coordinating the '5 bows'.
Elbows & knees are one of the 3 external harmonies. Elbows and knees must both be naturally relaxed and in line. Elbows and knees store and release together. Without groin flexibility, this will not work.

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Page created 18 April 2005
Last updated 16 June 2023