Wing Chun Counters Low Kicks with Denial

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.

Three-legged stool

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.


  1. Low kicks are easy to defend against only inexperienced student will have difficulty in true fact why do we train perferral vission and contact reflexes so we able to see all attacks.

  2. Robert, have you actually tried negating a low kick before? A good low kick has zero telegraphing and often hits you too quickly to deflect or evade.

    And a short low kick can still pack immense power. Check out this clip of a martial art that seems to really, really like kicking shins:

    (If you’re too impatient to watch the whole thing, skip to 3:26)

  3. Indeed. Low kicks can come in many different flavors, and the load bearing nature of legs makes them both slow and vulnerable.

    Whoever said that it was easy to defend against low kicks should try some muay thai sessions. Just for fun & giggles.

    The thai shin kick is actually “nice” compared to some real nasties, such as crescent kicks and stomping kicks…

    Besides, a kick in the balls is technically a “low” kick as well. There is a reason why traditional martial arts spend so much time drilling front kick defenses.

    So you can try two things:getting low kicked by a sports player. And then respectfully experimenting with groin shots (you ll see that they are very easy to score on sport fighters because they don t train defenses).

    Sports can teach you valuable skills such as timing and distance control, whereas TMAs can teach you the only defenses that works against “foul” attacks.

  4. I like the idea to PREVENT to get low kicked. So yes, this is primary usefull principle.

    But…… there are surely much more situations that we can not prevent it. Kickers can feint succesfully or mislead us with opening strikes before they actually kick, etc.

    In order of HOW LATE we are in our actions I can distinguish these “solutions”:

    1. Evade the low kick. Here we still can see the kick but can not prevent it anymore. And we still have plenty time for it.
    2. Blocking the low kick (with either the lead leg or the back leg as well). When we do not have the time to evade, than we must try to block it. If the low kicks are really hard than we can still be injured.
    3. Absorbing the low kick with our hamstring, which are less sensitive compaered by the side of our thigh. We are late here, and by simply twisting our leg a bit and putting more body weight to it, make it a much stronger target for the low kick. Another kind of absorbing the low kick is by stepping in so close that the range of the kick, and therefore the big power in it, will be as minimal as possible.

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