Wing Chun Front Stance

Training in Wing Chun footwork is extremely important in order to be an effective fighter. It may seem boring to spend a lot of time practicing these seemingly simple looking positions, but, if you do manage to master the principles, they will pay off in droves. The Wing Chun Front Stance is the first step on a long road to developing excellent footwork for combat!


Abrams A1M2 Main Battle Tank

Currently, the most advanced tank in the US arsenal is the Abrams M1A2.  It is able to travel over 40 mph through rough terrain in order to bring its armored might in range of the enemy and destroy him. However, if the treads on this mighty machine break, it becomes nothing more than a sitting duck.

A destroyed M1 Main Battle Tank sits along Route 1, in Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

A destroyed M1 Main Battle Tank sits along Route 1, in Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Likewise, a Wing Chun fighter needs to have the ability to move and maneuver effectively against his opponents. Lacking effective footwork, he will be just like that tank: ineffective and soon defeated, no matter how good his punches are!

A stance is defined as a ‘way that the practitioner’ stands. In Wing Chun, this fundamental stance has many names: ‘Internal Rotation Adduction Stance’ (IRAS), ‘Yee Ji Kim Yeung Ma’ in Cantonese,  ‘Character Two Adduction Stance’, front stance, goat, horse, etc. This stance teaches the student to be stable and at the same time promotes leg strength. It also allows the student to execute explosive and agile movements.

In order to set up this stance properly, the practitioner should follow these steps:

  • Stand with both feet together;
  • Raise your fists along the trunk so that they are slightly below and to the side of your nipples. Elbows will be pointing to the rear, and the fists should not touch the body, this is similar to elbow strike to the rear;
  • Slightly bend the knees by dropping straight down 3-5”;
  • Swing both feet out by pivoting from the heels, so that your toes point out right to the 2 o’clock and left to 10 o’clock position;

    Pic. #1: Wing Chun Front Stance Footprints

  • Pick up your body by the toes, and swing your heels outwards, so that your feet form an equilateral triangle. See Pic. #1;
  • Weight should be distributed evenly between the legs;
  • Put your hands on your butt and push it slightly forward, in order to straighten out your spine and create the effect of slightly leaning to the rear. This is only used to manually put oneself into the right position. Once the stance is familiar, you will no longer need to use your hands. See Pic. #2;
  • Place your hands back where they were;
  • The knees are turned inwards towards each other, creating the ‘adduction link’ – as if the knees are connected by a spring. See Pic. #3;

    Pic. #3: Wing Chun Front Stance – Front View


Pic. #2: Ip Man is Wing Chun Front Stance – Side-View

In this stance, the head, trunk of the body and the knees are on the same line if one is observing from the side. The stance may appear high, but because of the linkage between the knees and the adducting of the feet, it is extremely stable and allows the upper body to be very agile. This stance will offer advantages over the opponent who stands in the low stance or is front loaded.

Training Points for the Front Stance

  • The distance between the feet should measure about one and a half of your feet in length.
  • The knees should turn inwards, and not just be facing to the front. This inward turning of the knees is the binding link and is the goal of training.
  • Binding link should be maintained until you get tired.
  • The head, trunk and the knees are on the same straight line, slightly leaning to the back.
  • The upper body should be relaxed, breathing should be smooth.
  • DO NOT lean too much forwards or backwards – stability of the stance will suffer.
  • DO NOT hold your legs too close together, it will raise your center of gravity and result in poor stability and balance.

The best way to train this stance is to perform it frequently in your daily life. You can use it at home when you are watching TV, while riding the train, standing in line for the groceries, etc. The longer you train, the stronger your legs will become and your footwork better and more explosive!