My Way of Wing Chun

The Learning Curve

Yee Gee Kim Yeun Ma

The basic stance of Wing Chun Kuen is called the “Yee Gee Kim Yeun Ma”. To many it looks very simple and at the same time very strange in appearance. Some other styles of Kung Fu say they have similar stances, but these are very superficial comparisons. Whatever the case, this is a very important stance for all Wing Chun practitioners.

The first thing you learn when you begin Wing Chun is the basic stance ‘Yee Gee Kim Yuen Ma’.  This stance is formed by:

  1. Stand straight (but relaxed) with your feet together and your hands hanging at your sides
  2. Slightly bend your knees and raise your hands up to the sides of your chest forming ‘loose* fists. Keep your head upright and look straight ahead.
  3. Keeping your back straight and head upright, open your toes outwards. This is done by swiveling on your heels. Then turn your heels out, by swiveling on the balls of your feet, until they arc slightly wider then your toes. It is important not to just twist the feet. Although the feet move, you should allow your legs to turn from the hips.

There are some very important points to look out for when forming and holding this stance. You should always keep your back straight and your chest open, but you should also be relaxed. Use just enough energy to hold the posture. This is very important as you will be using this posture for a long time (the rest of your life if you continue your training), therefore any mistakes you make can be hard to correct later or more importantly, may injure you.

A common mistake is curving your spine backwards or forwards. If you lean back too far, so the spine is bent, then you will be placing pressure on your abdomen, lower back, knees and ankles. You should try and avoid this as you will hurt your joints. You will also be placing pressure on your internal organs and your Dantien. This will block your Qi which may cause seemingly unrelated problems, e.g. stomach problems. Pressing your Dantien will mean you will lose too much energy and become tired and also vulnerable to injuries.

The opposite mistake, is to hunch your shoulders forwards and so curving your spine forwards. This will place pressure on the lower pan of your neck, on your chest and abdomen. Again, if you stand like this for a long time, you may cause the same problems as above, and also place pressure on your lungs. This may cause breathing problems and tension since you arc ‘too closed”. Also, since you are restricting your breathing you will not be able to develop power in your techniques.

It has been said that the basic Wing Chun stance damages the knees. This is not true. If the stance is correct then it will in fact make you strong and healthy since it follows the same principles as other standing exercises (Zhan Zhuang) and standing meditations. Some people damage their knees because they incorrectly form and hold the stance.

If you are standing correctly, your legs will feel solid, but you should feel no twisting in any of the joints or muscles, especially in the knees or ankles. When you push your heels out when forming the stance, you should allow your legs to rotate from the hips. You do not need to squeeze your thighs in or tense up any part of your leg since the posture will make the stance solid. Never twist your joints. To see if your joints are twisted, form your stance, then relax and straighten your legs, but do not move your feet. You should find your upper body tips forwards, and your legs are turned in from the hips, but you do not feel any twisting in your joints. If you have turned your feet too far when forming your stance, you will feel twisting in your knees and ankles.

You do not in fact have to turn your feet in too much, since this is not where the strength of the stance lies. The strength comes from the thighs closing (you do not have to squeeze them in) and sinking. This closing and sinking comes from the turning of the feet and the bending of the knees. So you see, you do not have to twist your ankles and knees.

When holding your fists up at your sides do not rest them on your body, they can touch your body, but not rest on it. This way you will train your shoulders and arms. Do not pull your elbows back too much since this will again make you tense. Just make sure your chest is open but relaxed.

Remember to keep your head up and facing naturally forwards, otherwise you will not be able to breathe or sec properly. If you have found the correct stance you should find that your legs feel solid and your feet are flat on the floor. Your upper body should be totally relaxed, your spine straight, and the only pressure you can feel is in your shoulders which is caused by holding your fists and arms up.

This stance is very stable and solid. It can make you healthy and strong and is the foundation that you will build your Wing Chun on. However, when you have the stance, you will notice that with your toes in, you cannot move very easily. Thus the obvious question is how can you defend yourself in this stance? The stance trains your legs and makes you strong. When you have to defend yourself, all you do is slightly sink down, by bending your knees, and if you have trained enough your thighs will automatically close and you will have your solid base. You do not have to turn your toes in, in fact you will not have time to turn them in. Just sink down. It is very simple and very fast to do. When you can do this ask yourself whether you can defend yourself.

Sources:
[1] Darryl Moy, Wing Chun’s Yee Gee Kim Yeun Ma, Qi Magazine no. 26, pp. 34-35 (Jun/Jul 1996)

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