The classic Wing Chun training stance is called Yi Gee Kim Yeung Ma, most commonly translated as “Squeezing the Goat Stance.” The feet are pointed inward, the knees also are pointed inward and slightly bent, the hips are forward, and the shoulders are slouched and relaxed. Why do we stand like this? What’s the purpose?
This stance is perhaps the most misunderstood movement or non-movement in the Wing Chun system because no one knows how to use it. The key to utilizing any fighting art is always found in its base, the stance and footwork. Without mastery of base, structure, and footwork, the offensive and defensive techniques will all lack power. So, by understanding how to use this stance for more than just forms and drills, you can revolutionize your perception of how to fight with Wing Chun. Let me show you what I mean.
When first learning Wing Chun and Yi Gee Kim Yeung Ma (YGKYM), I was told we stand in this stance because it trains both legs to be the back leg of the fighting stance from where we draw power from the ground. While I understood how to draw power from the ground using the back leg, the idea that YGKYM trains both legs to be the rear leg didn’t make much sense to me. Based on the position of the back leg in a fighting stance and the position of the legs in YGKYM, how are they related? There are minor similarities, but I could find nothing proving that YGKYM specifically trains the legs for the rear position. Perhaps, some fighters do use it to train their back leg and they do so successfully. That’s great. Personally, I could not figure it out, nor figure out the proper energy in the stance. Should the energy go forward as in the hips, down into the ground, or just remain relaxed?
I later discovered that by pressing the knees inward (squeezing the goat), one could gain more leverage when side stepping, and thus more leverage when using the triangle horse (footwork). In YGKYM, the knees are already pointed inward as the feet are also pointed inward. Usually, this is done to protect the groin. While it does protect the groin, it also serves to position you to go left or right without much preparation. Just like it is easier to walk forward rather than back, the body has an easier time moving in the direction the knees are pointed. Therefore, the key to this is not just to relax in YGKYM, but to actively press the knees inward. By actively pressing the knees inward, you leverage the ability to move in a more lateral direction rather than just forward.
It’s not necessary to sit idly in YGKYM actively pressing the knees inward unless you’re doing so for dexterity and conditioning of the legs. However, if you plan to move laterally, it’s helpful to press the knees inward a few moments before you step. When you press your knees inward, you change the direction your knee is facing so when your foot pushes off the floor to move left or right, less energy is waste sending your body up and more is used going to the side. The idea is to play with the energy, sending it into the ground to root, sending it inward to move laterally, sending it forward and back. When moving forward, the leg moving forward exerts static energy going forward while other leg exerts energy going back and down into the floor to spring forward. The same applies to moving laterally. Pushing both legs inward, sending the left leg energy to the right and the right leg energy to the left, allows you to triangle step and side step in either direction as necessary.
In terms of fighting application, the idea is not to fight in YGKYM, but to use the principles of using the energy in the knee and directing it based on your strategy. If you need to move more lateral or take angles during a fight, apply dynamic tension, pressing your knees inward to side step or triangle step. You can also raise the outside blades of your feet slightly off the ground putting more weight on the inner feet to spring left or right. If you need to move more forward in a straight line, then the knees should face more forward. The idea is to maintain your existing fighting stance, but perhaps actively press the knees and feet in various directions to facilitate ease and explosiveness of movement. It is a similar concept as using the elbow and triceps to generate punching power vice the hand itself. Try, squeeze the goat, and see for yourself how it works. It’s a strange concept as most stance work does not emphasize any dynamic tension or static energy in the legs, just forward energy in the hips and a relaxed posture.
I hope this article has been helpful in your study and journey into Wing Chun and how to fight with Wing Chun. The key is to play with it, experiment, and find your own discoveries. That’s how you’ll make it work for yourself. Thank you for reading.
Wishing you peace and self-certainty.
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