The low kick is the most dangerous attack in unarmed martial arts. A single well-placed kick to the knee or ankle can render the opponent unable to stand, and consequently unable to escape or defend against further attacks.
Low kicks are so effective that even seasoned martial artists have difficulty defending against them. Faced with such a challenge, some simply choose to ignore the threat, and concentrate on more glamorous hand techniques instead.
Denial is usually not an effective method of self-defense. However, Wing Chun teaches us how to use denial to our advantage, and thereby protect ourselves. According to Wing Chun principles, we should deny an attacker the position, the balance and the time to succeed with a low kicking attack.
Deny them the position to land a kick. Even good kickers need a little space and a proper angle to generate power. If you place your leg within the safety zone surrounding your opponent’s leg, they cannot kick it without first withdrawing their leg. Such withdrawals present an opportunity for pre-emptive action.
Deny them the balance to lift and extend their leg. In order to lift their kicking leg off the ground, your opponent must first transfer their weight onto their other leg. Therefore, you can stop kicks before they start by controlling the opponent’s center of gravity. If you are successful in keeping your opponent’s balance point between both their legs, they will not be able to move, much less kick.
Deny them the time to initiate an attack. In application, Wing Chun kung fu does not alternate between offensive and defensive techniques. On the contrary, every movement is either a direct attack, such as punch or kick, on an indirect attack on the opponent’s balance, structure and position. Ideally, the opponent will remain one step behind, preoccupied with defense and unable to launch a counterattack, kick or otherwise.
Following these basic principles, practitioners of any martial arts style can decrease their vulnerability to low kicks. The elaborate chi gerk training exercises of some Wing Chun schools are only icing on the cake.