The Kicks in the Leung Ting system

Many readers of blogs or onlookers assume that WingTsun™ does not kick or does not place importance on kicks but the reality is different. The kicks in the Leung Ting System of Wing Tsun have their own unique application. WingTsun is a system with a more urban base and methods involving jumping over rocks, logs and bumps in the landscape does not occur in the WingTsun fighting environment. In general, the basic thinking in this system is that kicks are there to “help the hands.”

When the hands need help, one can use the kicks to get you out of trouble. Not being a flamboyant system of martial arts, the WingTsun practitioner does not throw a kick unless he or she is certain to hit the target. A miss would leave the kicker exposed to serious counterattack.

In WingTsun, kicks are delivered to targets below the waist. Targets on the attacker’s body below the waist are much closer to the defender’s foot and therefore reach their target faster. Also the time the kick spends in mid-flight is much less. Time spent with a kick in mid-flight is risky and this is a time window for a counterattack because kicks are generally slower than hands. In addition, this is a time period when there is no mobility, a.k.a. no movement from place to place to maintain the moving target status for the defender.

According to Grandmaster Leung Ting, the kicks of WingTsun encompass more than what we think of as kicks. The whole category might be more properly classified as “legwork.” Some of these concepts go back to the source martial arts of ancient China. Leg work has always been lumped together in Chinese martial arts by including footwork, sweeps, throws, and leg grapples. WingTsun emphasizes aggressive application of steps in a way more like kicking. The student is trained to go in with explosive steps, wedging and circling around an attacker’s lead leg or even rear leg much like the explosive low and mid-level kicks or punches.
Similar to other southern kung fu systems, WingTsun emphasizes a stable stance. However, flexibility of the footwork is regarded as more important than stability in order to evade or dissolve an opponent’s attacks.

Grandmaster Leung Ting has often referred to the footwork as the most important skill in WingTsun and the most difficult to master. It was very important in the lawless environment of the frontier, even in the villages in ancient China that a person be self-sufficient. A small woman in particular, did not want to end up on the ground and therefore be defeated by a larger, stronger attacker. The result is a martial art that places great emphasis in remaining standing. In more recent times and realizing that life and martial skills are not perfect, techniques of WingTsun while standing are also taught as ground defenses.

In order to build strong legs, one idea behind the “Little Idea Form” – Siu Nim Tau – is to hold the stance for as long as possible in order to build serious leg strength and prepare a firm footing for when it is time to learn to kick. When a leg is in the air for a kick, one’s stability is reduced by half and so the remaining leg better be stable!

The Chum Kiu form represents the time when a student learns three of the WingTsun kicks. Many instructors begin some of that training prior to the learning of Chum Kiu however. Most properly, the student should learn the kicks when their stance and foot work are ready.
The remainder of the kicks and kicking methods are learned during the training on the wooden dummy form and applications in chi sau exercises and sections at the Technician Levels.

©Copyright 2012, Keith Sonnenberg. All rights are reserved. No reproduction without permission.