I hear so many people say that the Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma (pigeon-toed stance) is for training and not fighting. If that’s true, why are all the drills done from that position? They say it’s better to be square because you can then move in any direction. Would it not be better to have one leg in front so you’re ready to attack more easily? Or if you’re square, wouldn’t it make more sense to have the feet parallel instead of pigeon-toed? That’s how we stand naturally.
Answer: Footwork… it really depends on which school or lineage you study under.
Wing Chun footwork can be almost as unique as how the forms are practiced.
With that being said, there is an effective stance and less effective stance.
First, it’s important to understand that the foot is designed to roll backward and forward.
Ideally, it strikes down on the outside of the heel, rolls diagonally across the sole of the foot, to the big toe. (That’s ideal but it depends on your unique physiology. I have a friend that is naturally pigeon-toed, so he wears out the inside of his shoe-heel rather than the outside as other people do.)
The Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma (pigeon-toed stance)
That’s the traditional way of practicing forms. I feel that sometimes practitioners turn the foot too much. It’s over-exaggerated. Turning your foot 45 degrees is too much, and not necessary.
But keeping it too square (90 degrees) is too much too, since the foot is designed to roll back and forth.
Somewhere in-between is appropriate and comfortable and effective.
Footwork and stance don’t exist alone
Too many practitioners, especially new ones, put too much focus on the feet.
Your stance is comprised of
the feet, the knees and hips.
Get into your neutral stance (like normal standing with feet apart) and square your feet.
Then, bend your knees and squat a little.
Next, rock your center of gravity or torso back and forth. Remember what you feel in your body as you rock back and forth.
Now, turn your feet in a bit and do the test again.
Do you feel any difference as you rock your center of gravity?
If you did it right, you felt less balance with your feet square and more control (balance) with your feet turned in a bit.
The point? Bending your knees is equally important for your stance.
Footwork in fighting
A slightly turned in foot is best for many reasons (not the over-exaggerated pigeon-toe).
>> When you’re in a front stance (right or left leg in front) bending your knees and turning in your foot gives you more stability.
>> The turned in front foot and bent knee helps protect your groin area from the opponent in front of you.
>> Turned in feet makes it easier to move around on the “balls of your feet” (this is the front of the feet, just behind the toes, not the back – heel).
>> Moving around on the balls of your feet is best for moving and changing direction quickly in small spaces.
Just look at professional basketball players, tennis, boxing, volleyball, etc. They move on the balls of their feet.
When you fight, toe-to-toe, you need to move around and change direction quickly in a small space too.
Slightly turned in foot is best. Not too square and not an over-exaggerated Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma (pigeon-toed stance) which many Wing Chun practitioners do.