I just ran across a blog post this morning that mentioned the notion of being “plumb erect” with some associated pictures to illustrate the point.
After reading the post, I was reminded of a correction I had received during my chen village taiji material days. Often times while in a single weighted stance, I would receive corrections that shifted my weight more into the center of my body. Additionally, I would often get my hip shifted so that the side of my hip did not go past the outer edge of my foot, ie remaining in my body. After seeing the illustrations and pictures, I now realize I was being adjusted to be more within my legs and body. As the author James Craven states in the article:
It is actually quite easy to just step empty. The problem is that when most people step empty their hip is not directly aligned over the support foot, but can be measured from 2-10 inches sticking out past the hip. If after stepping you dropped a plumb line from the outside of your hip to the floor. Then you measure the distance of that drop to your foot, the distance should not be more than an inch or two. Ideally no distance. So the problem is that one either sticks the hip out or bends over in order to step lightly. This compromise to the structure is very damaging.
… as one puts structure first, he then learns to stay in his legs more with the weight of the body and to relax the kua and hip area. As he/she relaxes and the legs get stronger then it is possible to step lighter and lighter because the leg is able to hold the weight when one truly relaxes into the leg. This is an ongoing process.