Stepping is a training exercise designed to get us to move in, deal with an opponent’s attack and attack them effectively, as well as to be able to absorb an opponent’s strike and move back with them if necessary, taking the line and gaining the best position. It also teaches us the value of softness, and of being able to switch smoothly from soft to hard or strong.
Stepping forward and stepping back are the two components of this cooperative training.
Stepping is a part of chi sau training, and itself is a huge topic of study. All of our ving tsun training pours into stepping.
When stepping forward, these conditions must be met..
The waist must turn at the start of the step.
The front foot must come in towards the centre.
As we move forward, the front foot moves out again off the centre, and the back foot must hold it’s line.
We use a stepping template, pictured, to help the students pick the movements up quickly and train or retrain correct movement. The initial part of the step is trained first, then the second part of the step added in. Finally making it all one smooth movement. The student then moves on to stepping training with a partner. The template is good to work on at all levels to keep it working well, programming these movement in until natural. It can be trained with a punch off the lead hand to learn to coordinate the movement. There is a brief clip on using the stepping template on the YouTube channel linked to this website.
There are phases of stepping back..
First is the angle step, where we take an angle as we move back with the partner’s step forward. This teaches us to play it safe if the opponent is very powerful or if we feel like getting out of there.
Next is absorbing, where we allow in training our partner’s step to put us off balance, then with a sharp movement of the waist we recover our position and take the centreline. This teaches us how to recover when an opponent’s strike surprises us or puts us momentarily off balance.
Then we practice jamming, holding the partner’s step action with our fook sau. This develops our structure and makes the fook sau strong when it needs to be.
Finally we attack directly with our fook hand as soon as there is an opening when the partner steps forward. This teaches us to be proactive when possible and get in to finsih the fight.
Stepping forward teaches us how to reface the centre when their defence moves our arm aside, how to switch from punch to tan as necessary, how to pick the line and intercept to take the centre and hit through to the win.
We train stepping forward with a low attack off the low flat tan hand in the roll, or to the head punching directly from the bong sau in the roll. Not only this, but we also attack from the fook sau hand to the head, which keeps the stepping alive and trains the defender’s bong sau.
We also have some good drills that complement the stepping training and bring it into practical reality, teaching us to pick the line depending on where their attack is coming from.
Stepping forward and stepping back have great value, directly benefiting our fighting skills, and a lot of time is spent perfecting these actions. One way to look at it is that if stepping is working, you won’t need any of the other chi sau.. the opponent is finished already. Stepping teaches us to finish the fight in the first move. Their initial movement shows us the line of attack and gives us the timing, so we see the centre and hit the centre.
Stepping in itself is a great game!
There is a clip briefly covering stepping at the YouTube channel linked to this website.