I am going to make the case that Wing Chun footwork, despite different terms and apparent unique “stances”, is really just one universal system, with a common thread:
- Maintaining the distance between the feet. Around shoulder width.
- Using the supporting leg to do the moving rather than than heal-toe “gait”.
- Feet should be parallel or slightly turned in never turned out.
- The distribution of weight shifts whilst turning to allow legs to be lifted in an balanced way.
- Upper body glides as one, and upright and level.
- Turning power comes from the hips not the feet.
- Feet turn at the heals not the balls of the feet.
- Feet should be grounded (flat footed) after a step.
What I’m not going to do in this entry is too much of the “how?”. This needs to be taught in class. I will cover in another entry: Wei Ma (opening), the basics of stance (which is important to the footwork working), and Yiu Ma (turning power), which is a big subject with lots of nuances such as sinking and rising. I’m just going to show the basic effect of turning without the power so other examples make sense. Yiu Ma after stepping will not be shown.
Neutral footwork is something that is taken for granted, but is the essential factor that makes footwork work. Any idealised footwork, in practice, needs constant adjustments, little shuffles and sidesteps, in order to respond to the situation. Also neutral stance is useful in that you don’t go around in a “forward” fighting stance all the time.
This is the basic approach. Beginners might use this for getting out of the way or getting used to distance. The leg you use to move is dependent on what feel right at the time. There isn’t a “specific” leg.
Click on the diagram (left) to play the footprints, grey denoting previous position. I have put arrows where necessary and also a pelvis in dotted white to show the position of the body, as well as a blue dotted line to give a rough idea line between the shoulder is facing.
Bellow are profiles of the footwork. I have tried to blur stages where you wouldn’t stop / it is momentary.
When you need to turn and face something, angle step is used, especially toward the centreline.
This example is a bit academic, as you also need a little space to get out of the way (shown the next example), and also it is awkward but still possible to turn on the supporting leg, it is more natural when done with the push and pull of the control and attack with Yiu Ma.
Generally you don’t turn more than 45 degrees, as the purpose is to face, to have both arms to your disposal. This is an example of how you can do it as a drill, I’m not always going to provide profiles for every stage, just enough to get the basic idea.
Please ignore the blurring, in this case I got over zealous…
This is how angle stepping will be used much of the time with a side step built in. Simply speaking it is getting out of the way. However in Wing Chun we want to intercept the attack, counter attack and control them at the same time.
There is a myth in Wing Chun that we don’t go backwards. This is folly. However simply retreating or stepping to the side aren’t usually desirable because positioning is everything.
You can receive an attack and end up in a better position, where they are not facing you, but you are, and you have gone forward (also known as outer gate positioning).
What might be confusing is the closeness. That is deliberate because you are also going to intercept and control the attack. The principle is you don’t stand in the way, so you don’t take the full brunt, but also controlling the attack as it comes in so you can get to and take advantage of the better position.
More to follow on next page….