Boxers can dodge, weave and move in. What about kung fu? Sifu Barry Pang discusses the importance of pliable upper body movement while maintaining a strong base.

Where it comes to defensive footwork, There are 4 levels that we employ from Wing Chun and other styles. They each progressively deal with closer range situations. All quickly flow from evasion to attack.

In this video Barry demonstrates the 3rd level with student Scott Peterson, who is a former Australasian (Open Styles) Kung Fu Champion. In the main picture above, Scott tries to lift and upend Barry, without success.

Here are the 4 levels, starting with the simplest:

1. Sidestepping 

Long step to the side and backwards

  • Use: Long range against a forward attacking opponent. Stay in hitting range and counterattack, ensuring the evasion has value.
  • Style: Wing Chun

2. Pivoting 

Turn body on a central axis without stepping

  • Use: Close range. No time to step. The purpose is to improve position and counterattack. Hands are in contact to read the forces and the body turns on a central axis while striking.
  • Style: Wing Chun

3. Waist pivoting 

Adjust upper body position by pivoting at the waist

  • Use: Very close range. No time to pivot. Hands are in contact to read the forces, out-position the attacker and disrupt their balance and ability to strike.
  • Style: Lung Ying (Dragon Shape)

4. Body movement 

Parts of the upper body react based on contact forces

  • Use: Extreme close range, reacting to striking contact. The movements are very short, yielding to and then redirecting the forces.
  • Style: Liu Ho Ba Fa

Of course each of these movements is progressively harder to master. They need to becomereflex actions based on feel. But gradually building a solid base and loose hands is the pathway.