Footwork in Wing Chun is easier to understand if we follow a few ground rules. Keeping it simple makes it easy to categorize and practice all possible variations and interpretations. This is not to say that these are the only paths we can take, but if we stick to these techniques, we should be able to handle most situations.
- They are taking a step forward to attack. This is first taught as a straight line step into the enemy’s central axis. Consider taking action to the apex of an equilateral triangle and bringing your back foot forward to follow the stance. Maintain a solid connection to the ground by keeping the back heel as close as possible (see following structure test). Tuck the hips in and finish facing the opponent squarely, shoulders and hips completely turned towards the target.
- Stepping straight backward (this is rarely used as the enemy can easily follow you, but it needs to be considered).
- Pivoting. Keep your hips up, your weight on your heels, and don’t sway. This is typically used in response to pressure or to avoid an incoming force. Rotate the body about its central axis.
- Tui Ma, also known as Push Step. Under pressure, the normal stance causes the body to collapse backward and slightly sideways. Allow your view to be pressed and the enemy to do the work. The front leg must be slid back over to cover the new central axis line, and the front foot must be turned inward to protect the groin and rear leg while preventing foot sweeping. Then there are two more possibilities:
- Shuffle step: another step to the same side.
- Long stepping: stepping on the other side and switching legs.Long stepping: dancing to the other side and switching legs.
You will need to practice both of these versions to see when they apply; this should be obvious depending on the direction of force and relative arm positions.
- You are then pivoting and collapsing. The pivot has occurred, but now additional pressure is applied, and the rotated position collapses to either side, as in Tui Ma. Step right with your right leg or left with your left leg.
As stated in 1. As mentioned above, you should keep your heels as close to the ground as possible when stepping. This is depicted in Cham Kiu form. To demonstrate this, take a forward-facing stance and try to push a punch out against resistance supplied by a partner while keeping your back heel on the floor. Try the same exercise, but this time lift your heel off the floor and apply pressure with your toes. Because of the more direct connection with the floor, the first method is far more powerful. Another difference is that you use the calf muscle in the second drill. In the first example, you use the gluteus maximus (buttock), the largest and thus strongest muscle in the body. Of course, if you are not in contact, you may find that you are more agile on your toes, but when in touch, try to keep your heels as close to the floor as possible.
Walking to the Wing Chun practitioner should feel as natural as stepping and turning. You must transition between stances, steps, and kicks while maintaining perfect distance (Wong Shun Leung and Bruce Lee were both championship dancers in Hong Kong).