How to Properly Nullify an Attack Using Wing Chun Turns

Rams Butting Horns

Rams Butting Horns

Imagine a punch is rushing towards your head. As a Wing Chun Woman (or a Man), what would you do in this situation? Retreating does not work, because you will open yourself to a kick when you retreat, additionally, you are not going to be able to counter this attack as effectively. On the other hand, you can counter attack, and apply a deflective structure to redirect/nullify the incoming force. This is good, and possibly the most appropriate thing to do. However, what if the attacker is huge, and the force coming your way is overwhelming? Do you really want to try to block or redirect such a force? You can think of a direct block applied to such a direct force akin to two rams charging each other head on and clashing horns to determine who is the strongest. However, as a Wing Chun fighter, do you really want to be one of those rams? Do you really want to run the risk of smashing yourself against such a force? Well, you might say, I am a big guy, I can take it. OK, let’s chunk it up some more: it’s no longer a ram heading your way, it’s now a train. Still want to stay there? Retreat is not the answer – that train is faster than you are and will plow you over. So you just simply step out of the way and let the train pass on by.

One of my favorite sayings is “When the train is coming, get out of the way!” It’s easy to remember, and even easier to understand the concept behind it. Another concept that is necessary to understand is the concept of a revolving door. What happens when you go through such a door? You push it and the door turns around the circle allowing you to pass through. The door has no power itself, it moves in the direction that you push it. This is the foundation behind Wing Chun Turns.

Consider the following:

  1. Two people are facing each other. We will call them A and B. B is the attacker and he is much bigger than A, the defender.  A is a Wing Chun fighter and he is standing in Wing Chun pre-fighting stance, which is the Front Stance with hands in Man – Wu position. The opponents are standing with their hands parallel to each other.
  2. B launches a strong punch to A’s chest.
  3. A stretches out his left arm to contact and counter B’s right punch.
  4. The power of B’s punch causes A to react by shifting his body, turning the legs and changing his stance from the Front Stance to the Turning Stance.
  5. As A has shifted his trunk to the side, B’s punch misses its target. A is now able to immediately attack B with a right punch.
  6. Since B is still rushing forward as this is all happening, he will likely run himself into A’s fist, which will cause serious damage to B.

While considering the above situation, be aware of the following:

  1. When B’s left arm comes in contact with A’s punching arm, it only makes contact, and does not block the punch.
  2. A’s arm, while in contact with B’s punching arm does not deflect or block B’s punching arm, it only makes the use of the force delivered by B’s arm to cause A to turn. This is the application of the ‘revolving door’ theory, as A is being acted upon B just as a revolving door is pushed in order to pass through it.
  3. Therefore, it does not matter how strong B’s punch is, or how powerful it is – it is nullified because it misses its target. Just like when you get out of the way of a rushing train!

Wing Chun Turns are used as a tool to nullify the opponent’s frontal attack!

Here is how to transition from Wing Chun Front Stance to a Turning Stance:

Pic # 1: Wing Chun Turn

Pic # 1: Wing Chun Turn

  1. Stand in Wing Chun Front Stance.
  2. Shift your torso in its entirety to the left, so that all of the weight of your body is over the left leg.
  3. Turn the torso 45 degrees to the right, putting your centerline on your opponents shoulder. See Pic#1.
  4. As you are turning to the right, your right foot rotates 90 degrees to the right, and becomes parallel with the left leg. See Pic#2.
  5. 100% of your weight is on the left leg. However, the right leg still helps to support the body by being firmly planted on the ground.

Pic #2: Feet parallel with 45 deg from the parallel while performing Wing Chun Turns.

Wing Chun Turning Stance, is also known as sideling stance or the diagonal stance because in this stance our feet are parallel to each other while placed at an angle of 45 degrees away from the front direction. In this stance, your centerline lies on the opponent’s shoulder. If the opponent keeps coming forward, the defender can just continue turning his trunk until he turns 90 degrees from the front, and at right angles to the attacker. See Pic #3. In this manner, the attackers force, no matter how strong, is being evaded. This is the reason all of the weight is shifted to the rear leg. Please be aware that the feet do not move when the defender turns from 45 to 90 degrees. They stay in that same 45 degree position.


Pic. #3: Center to Center -> 45 deg -> 90 deg turn.

Why do we keep 100% our weight on the back leg when we turn?

There is a large number of Wing Chun practitioners that subscribe to the theory that the weight distribution between the rear and front legs should be 60%/40% or 70%/30%. This is incorrect for the following reasons:

      1. If the center of gravity does not move completely over to the rear leg, when you turn, you will still have some of your trunk or head in the way of the incoming punch. You will also not conform to the theory that “when the trunk is turned, the centerline should be on the shoulder”. See Pic #4.

Pic. #4. The weight is not 100% on the back leg!

      1. If the front leg is carrying any weight after you turn, you will not be able to kick freely with that leg unless you shift your balance all the way to the rear. This shifting will cause your opponent to realize that the kick is coming and allow him to easily nullify it. See Pic #5.

        Pic. #5: IP Man in a Wing Chun Turn. Note that he is 100% back loaded.

Train as much as possible to master the turns. And remember, in Wing Chun, when you turn, it’s not just a turn – it’s a ‘shift and turn’!

Reference: Prof. Leung Ting and Dai-Sifu Emin Boztepe.