What is the Wing Chun fighting stance?

by Chris
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

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.

Try this:

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.

Bottom line
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.

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Feb 27, 2012
Wing Chun Kung Fu
by: Andrew

I think people do the exaggerated pigeon stance because it is easy to get into but the traditional Wing Chun stance it's a little difficult especially standing on your toes.

The other advantage of the traditional stance is it makes it easy to apply sweeping kicks, you don't have to prepare your leg is ready for action.

Jun 23, 2014
a little idea
by: Anonymous

Personaly, I think that, this traditional Wing Chun stance help the practitioner to do the powerful the straight-palm chain in balance both of side.

Oct 26, 2014
Wing Chun Stances via Ip Chun
by: Chris

@Chris: Awesome explanations! Thank you for clarifying and sharing this. -Rob
Wing Chun differs massively between lineages, so it really depends who is teaching you. What I can tell you is what Si Gung Ip Chun teaches, as I have been trained by his students and have visited his kwoon in Hong Kong.

Yee Gee Kim Yuen Ma is a training stance used to strengthen the legs. In practical training it, or any version of it, should not be used. There are basically three separate stances that are used for chi sau an in a fight. The stances as used in a practical capacity are as follows:

-Biu Ma - Arrow stepping

From Yee Gee Kim Yueng Ma, turn your left foot outwards so it is parallel with your right foot. Transfer about 70% of your weight onto your right foot. Twist your hips 45 degrees to the left, and face your shoulders fully 90 degrees to your left (so you started off looking forward, and now you are looking to your left - your right foot is your back foot). You can now push forward with your back foot to move forwards, or lift up your back foot momentarily and allow your weight to move you backwards. You can turn your back foot out a little more to get some extra sideways stability.

This stance is used to quickly close a gap between you and an opponent. In Biu Ma, the practitioner can move forward quickly to gain physical contact with the opponent using either a Mun Sau or by lifting the front leg to perform a kick. Biu Ma can also be used to apply pressure by pushing from the back leg during a Po Pie (double palm) or to absorb pressure coming from directly in front by using a Lan Sau (Bar arm).

-Sarm Bok Ma - Three point stepping

From Yee Gee Kim Yueng Ma, turn out both of the feet so they are slightly less than 90 degrees. keep a slight bend on the knees. In order to step forward, the practitioner must first turn his left foot out by about 20 degrees, and then move his right foot forward, keeping it facing forward. In order to step backwards, just complete these movements in reverse.

This stance should be moved to once physical contact has been made with the opponent. It is the stance used during Pun Sau (the rolling part of Chi Sau).

-Cheun Ma - Turning stance

From Sarm Bok Ma, turn both your feet (on your heels) at the same time to point 45 degrees to the left. At the same time, transfer 70% of your weight to your right leg. Your hips and shoulders should turn 45 degrees to the left. Drop down so that both your knees are bent. All this should be done as one swift motion. If you stand facing a wall and put your fist out so it is touching the wall directly in front of your face, and then turn into the Cheun Ma stance, your fist will remain in the same place but your whole body will have rotated around the point at the end of your fist, so that you are now facing it at a 45 degree angle.

This stance is used to quickly change the angle of attack by moving round the opponent opening up new gaps in their defence. The twisting motion also utilises the entire bodyweight to put momentum into a strike. The stance can also be used to absorb force applied to the practitioner through a position (eg Jum Sau - sinking elbow) performed with what would otherwise be the striking hand.

Of course, there are a few more turns and shuffles involved in the footwork of Wing Chun, not to mention the Heun Ma techniques in Biu Jee, but these are the basics. As I said, there are many other practitioners of Wing Chun that train their footwork differently; the most notable being the Leung Ting lineage who turn on the ball of their foot instead of their heels. I'm not trying to criticise anyone. Each to their own. This is just what I've been taught by Ip Chun and his students.

Sep 05, 2015
Shaolin Challenges Ninja gives a good example of the stance use
by: Anonymous

I always wondered about that stance. It's more something I do to avoid a groin kick, turn the knee towards the offending limb as it attacks... but more from a normal sparring stance. However, the movie shaolin challenges ninja shows Gordon Liu demonstrating the way one would move and footwork from that stance quite smoothly after his wife makes fun of the wing chun stance. - www.djemir.com

Sep 11, 2015
by: robert

I'll have to rewatch that one. However, you do realize that you're commenting on a lesson in movie as if it's based on reality?

I do that from time to time myself, but I have to remind myself that it is a movie meant for entertainment, not accuracy.

I wish I could jump 10 foot high walls or run around on top of bamboo stalks like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon... ;-)

Thanks for your comment!


Oct 12, 2015
Yes, it's for training in our lineage
by: DJ

In our lineage (Weng Chun), it is only used for training. The idea is that you can apply the principles on Yee Jee Kim Yeoung ma on whatever stance you are in.

You can stand still an still sink when external force comes. As it is with all the structure. It does not matter how it looks as long as it works as intended.

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