Never kick in a street fight?

Self Defense teachers often tell the student “never kick in a street fight”.
Wing Chun, however is a style designed for real world no rules combat, and it has kicks.

All lineages, to my knowledge, while they do use kicks, don’t kick above the waist, and use kicks sparingly. Why? Because when you kick you are momentarily standing on one leg, which means that there is always a risk of slipping and falling, being knocked down, or having your leg grabbed and being tripped or thrown to the ground. While this be OK in sport fighting, it is usually fatal in a street fight, so all wing chun lineages minimize that risk by kicking low, and also by only kicking when there is a good chance that the kick will land.

Some lineages will use kicks very rarely. Wong Shun Leung, who did hundreds of rooftop challenge fights with other kung fu fighters, said that in all of these encounters he only once “had to kick”. “had to kick” means that he would only kick if absolutely necessary. Moy Yat, one of Yip Man’s most well known and traditional masters, did a video about kicking where he explained that the Wing Chun kick is extremely powerful and effective, if you train it enough. He said that because of its extreme power and destructiveness the kick should be reserved for the most serious situations, such as an armed attacker. Leung Ting, on the other hand, liked to kick, was good at it, and so students in his lineage tend to kick more often that other Wing Chun fighters.

I was taught not to kick at all in multiple attacker situations, because in addition to the risk of being taken down, when you kick and are on one leg, you have no mobility, and survival in multiple attacker situations is all about mobility, and hopefully escape from the dangerous situation.

The video above shows the skills of Jeet Kune do Expert Octavio Quintero, top student of the late Jerry Poteet, famous first generation student of Bruce Lee. Jeet Kune do has a different strategy than Wing Chun. Wing Chun’s basic strategy is to force the opponent to take a preparatory step to get close enough to hit you, and then intercept him while he is taking that preparatory step with overwhelming attacks. Jeet Kune do has a strategy derived from fencing. in fencing you would never close the distance with the opponent and trade lunges and stabs because it is way too dangerous to do this with stabbing weapons Instead the fencer will stay out of range, and has trained to be able to close the difference lightning fast for an attack, and back up out of range to defend. Timing is also obviously crucial. JKD which is derived from wing chun, boxing, and fencing, uses a strategy of staying just out or range, either waiting for the opponent to commit by stepping in, and then attacking the knee of his lead leg, or using the pendulum step footwork shown in the video to come in with a low kick and pendulum right back out again. Although I haven’t seen enough actual jeet kune do fighters (as opposed to videos), I believe it is possible that JKD fighters, with their very advanced mobile footwork could possibly use this same strategy even against multiple attackers.

Paul Matthews

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