When it comes to Wing Chun, many of us become so focused on training the hands that we neglect the legs. In many martial arts and especially Wing Chun, bridging and attacking with the legs are crucial to your success.
Since Wing Chun excels within close range attacks, it is important to have good bridging techniques. Using legs as bridging is good because obviously your legs are longer than your arms. Adding to that, legs are excellent long range weapons that many Wing Chun practitioners over look. Some may even go as far to say that Wing Chun has no long range weapons. But, in reality, you’ll have an excellent long range weapon to add to your arsenal if you master your legs.
It’s not a bad idea to develop some muscles in your legs. Even though good kicks rely heavily on good technique, developing muscles help you tremendously with your balance and the strength of your kick. However, you do not want to develop so much muscle mass that it interferes with your range of motion or your speed.
How do you develop leg muscles? Good old fashioned lunges and squats! You can also develop leg muscles for strength and endurance through horse stances and holding positions that puts some pressure on your legs.
Stretch Daily. Not only does stretching make you healthier, stretching is key to your success in developing good kicks.
When you stretch, your muscles are able to receive more blood and recover faster. Thus it is a key component in developing leg muscles as well as flexibility. Flexibility can be developed only over a long period of time from stretching. This allows you to kick higher as well as develop proper techniques. Although Wing Chun kicks are rarely high (because we fear falling and thus, not a safe choice in terms of practicality), you need to be flexible to develop hip-high kicks. You need sufficient flexibility so that you can deliver the speed and power.
Stretching your legs and your arms also allows you to relax the muscles. That in turns allows you to develop the speed and power that you want. For the legs, stretch all the major group of muscles. Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes.
There are three main kicks in Wing Chun: straight front kick, side kick (like Bruce Lee’s), and the kick with your feet turned forty five degrees to the outside (mainly targeted at the opponent’s knee). All these kicks can vary in height but the nature of the technique is the same.
Many different schools and lineages have different reasons why their kicks are that way but key components that makes a good kick remains the same: speed, power, and balance. Without good technique, it is impossible to achieve all three at the same time.
Remaining in balance during and after the kick is very important. Without it, your opponent can easily take you down or break your structure and move in for an attack. Being in balance also allows you to switch from kicks to kicks. For example, you will want to be able to switch from straight kick to a side kick if your opponent block your straight kick.
An excellent exercise to develop leg strength and balance is a one leg stand with your leg out. Stand on one of your leg, slightly bent, and lift the other leg up so that your thigh is flat and parallel to the ground. Extend the leg that is up like you’re performing a front kick so you’ll feel more pressure. Lastly, pull your toes back (with only your feet) so that your heel is out, it will make it harder.
5. Speed And Power
To truly be successful at training your legs for martial arts, you must be able to deliver a kick with speed and power. Speed and power allows you to execute your technique before your opponent does. They allow you to injure, disrupt, or even take out the opponent. If you don’t have speed and power then your kicks are pretty much failing as one of your long range weapons. In other words, your kicks would be useless. For example, if you and your opponent kick at the same time, you want to be able to land the kick before he does or be fast enough to change your leg to an attack.
Once you have developed all the things above, however, speed and power should come easy with regular practice.
Practice, practice, practice until your kicks become natural, fast, and unstoppable.
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