YEE GEE KIM YEUNG MA
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Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma (YGKYM)
the mother of all stances, the stationary front stance for developing all stances which means 2 knees going in stance
Video

Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma is the basic foundation stance of Wing Chun.  This is the very first thing you learn on day one of class and if you fall in love with the art, something that you will spend the rest of your lifetime mastering.   The source of Wing Chun strength comes about from the stance, and since Wing Chun is an art that relies on the bare minimum of muscle, one must focus on perfecting this stance.  The basic goal for this stance is to develop how to find, control, maintain and overall be aware of one’s center.

Front and Side video

Ver 1.1 11/1/09

  1. -What is the purpose of all 4 steps in opening YGKYM?
    Step 1’s main goal is to make sure you are no longer top heavy, and you achieve this by crossing the arms in the very first motion.  When you cross the arms you cave the chest in, you should definitely feel this motion when crossing the arms,   You’ll also notice the crossing of the arms, for YGKYM, is the only thing in the entire art that is only one sided.  You will always cross left over right in order to not crush the heart.  When you pull the arms back to the side, make sure when you do this the shoulder moves forward at the same time.  The forearm should end up parrallel to the ground, make sure during this process that you do not lose the cave in the chest and bring it back out front.

    Step 2 - the bend in knees along with the roll of the hips is exactly like one sitting down on the edge of the chair.  What you will feel is the pushing out of the L4 and L5 during this process and the straightening out of the spine.  The most common mistake when doing this is leaning back after the tuck.  Most beginners will have difficulty in actually achieving this lower back push out, and tension in the belly (dan tien) is another common mistake when this occurs.

    Step 3 - Spreading the feet open develops the future stretch necessary for front kick development in addition to future dummy movements.  Most people will not be able to stretch this position when they first learn the stance.  So, the effect of that will be at the final stage of step 4, they will not be shoulder width apart.   That is okay in the beginning, but make sure one continues to strive for the stretch each and every single time that they do step 3.   Another thing most people do, is not doing the split of the feet simultaneously, as well as during this process sticking the butt out and losing the tuck in that they achieved from step 2.

    Step 4 - While this is the final stage and opening of the stance, all the adjustments really come at this point.  First make sure the pigeon toe is natural, people either do to little or too much, so finding the right balance is key in helping to keep focus in the center.  You’ll also want to re-stretch the spine once again, coz more then likely during the 4 steps process this is lost.   So make sure that you pull upon the vertex once again as well as re-check the tuck of the hip, which should help in the straightening of the spine.  Now, just because the spine is straight does not necessarily mean that its correctly in place between the heel and the ball of the feet, so one might have to play around with shifts in the weight to see if that is the case.


  1. -How often should I practice YGKYM?

  2. -Just like in all things in Wing Chun, when your in the mood and you’ve got the time, spend as much time working on the stance.  It literally is the foundation of all things that we do in Wing Chun, so the better the stance, the better you do everything else in Wing Chun.


  1. -How come I feel slight discomfort when doing the stance?

  2. -That’s your body telling you that your doing things wrong.  The most common is probably discomfort in the lower back area.  More often then not, your forgetting to tuck in and roll your hips, and thus you have your butt sticking out,   Another common area is just above the knee, and this is normally caused by over sinking the stance too much and having the knees go beyond the toe area.   Also, the upper back can get achy as well, if you force the pull back of the 1st motion beyond the point of relaxation and probably reopened the chest during this process.  Finally, the ankles can feel stiff as well, since often beginners squeeze the knees into the center instead of sinking it in the direction toward the toes.  Learn to listen, everything we do in Wing Chun should feels good.  Often, I have had students who have had back problems notice that just by working on the stance, they feel better then going to see their chiropractor.  The stance done correctly has a flow to it, just like you woke up and started the day on the right foot.























-Will I always have to concentrate maintaining my center in practice or in a real fight?
- In the beginning especially when you practice yes.  But all things we do in Wing Chun is for development, so the goal in the end is to make the control of your center as natural as you breathing or eating without thought.  Your goal is to get to that point.


- What’s the over all goal of YGKYM?
- If I gave you a plate and a marble, and told you to maintain that marble in the center of the plate, you could say that’s almost the same goal in learning YGKYM.    The stance is designed to help you find the center, maintain it, and be aware of it at all times.   The goal is natural movement without thought and to be able to move your center at will.  While the drills and exercises one learns seems robotic and by the book, in time, regardless of what one is doing from any activity like, running, basketball, football, etc.. anything that requires movement, once you have control of that center you can apply it to any motion that you do.


  1. -Is this my actual fight stance in a real fight?

  2. -Of course not, development and application are 2 different things.  In a fight situation, you stand as you want to stand, as long as you maintain the principle of the development which is the awareness of your center.  YGKYM is to help you learn that feeling, once you know how to get that feeling, you don’t have to stand in perfect stance in order to get it.


  1. -How long will it take before I can utilize my YGKYM in a real fight?

  2. -Everyone is different, so time tables may not be of any use here, especially if the question is in regards to fighting.  For the most part in fighting, you just need the guts, a punch and the aggressiveness to finish of your opponent.  So, nothing has to be perfect in execution, but the focus of pulling the trigger plays more of an important role.  Just remember fighting is easy, developing the skill is a bit harder.

  3. -Why am I pigeon toed when I do the form?

  4. -The focus upon opening the YGKYM stance should be in your center.  Without doing this and practicing the form in this manner you won’t be able to find the center.  Also the turn in for the pigeon toed positioning should be natural, and eventually in time once you develop how to find the feel of the center, holding it in this pose won’t be necessary.



General Description

How to YGKYM

Video

Attention to detail Lvl 1

Back in the days (experience )

Video

Step 1 - Have the feet together where the heels are touching and both sides of one’s big toe has a small gap forming a  V.  Stand up in a straight and relaxed manner with both hands on the side.  If done correctly the chin should be pointing down, not up.  In the correct position you’ll feel the entire body steady along with the butt cheeks slightly tensed.  Begin crossing the  left arm over the right in your center, and once you feel the chest slightly cave in, begin flipping the hands over so the palms face up and the left hand is over the top.  After that, sink the elbows back to their natural position making a fist in the during the retraction period.  The fist should generally be in line with the chest and also along the same line as the elbows, as you feel the shoulders coming forward.  This is the complete process of step number one.

Step 2 - Bend the knees every so slightly, and during this period tuck the hips  so that it rolls in.  Maintain the center during this time and make sure that you do not end up leaning back.

Step 3 - At this point start spreading simultaneously both feet open, from its slight V position to a goal of 10 o’clock for the left foot to 2 o’clock with the right foot making as natural wide V as possible, the heels during this time stay at the same spot.  Normally, beginners have a hard time doing this simple stretch.  Also make sure that you maintain what you achieved during steps 1 and 2.

Step 4 - At the final stage of YGKYM move the heels to the outside so that you create a stance where you are slightly pigeon toed.  At this point, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve maintained that slight hip tucked in, as well as feeling a pulling stretch from the top of the vertex.

Teachers Notes

Teachers Notes

Teachers Notes

When I first started teaching, I was so quick to correct the student after a mere couple of seconds of playing around with the stance.  The fact is knowing the wrong’s is just as important to helping him or her figure out how to do it correctly.  So, when you do show the stance and give him the necessary information to practice it, sit back and shut up for awhile and let him experiment.  Understand that this is day one, even if you shower him/her with all this wealth of information, it literally will go through one ear and out the other.  Less is better on day one, and the main goal is allow them to feel what it means to actually have the center.    So for example, I’d make the student open the stance, then I’d push to see if they have their center, and then walk away.  See if they can in fact try to hold it for 3 to 5 minute increments.  Allow them to take their necessary break, repeat the process but put variation in it as well.  So, make them open the stance, let them find their own center, have them sit out the stance for a pinch, and then come in and help them find their center.  In time as a teacher you’ll know when you should come in to help or sit back and let them struggle.

The best tip I can give regarding the 4 steps to open YGKYM, is feed the student just enough so that they can eat.  Thus, only if they ask for more then give it to them.  Allot of times, depending on your level of teaching, you may have tons and tons of information to share with the student.  But over feeding can also lead to more confusion.  As an example, in step 1 simply state what they have to do to complete the task.  If they then ask, what is the purpose of it, then answer.  I’ve always gone by the following of Sifu, that students ask the right questions when they are ready for more to digest.

When your a beginning teacher, the best advice Sifu said, was to always teach the truth.  So, there maybe be times where you come upon a question which you may not be able to answer.  Sometimes, you can get the answer by either feeling the answer through doing the motion.  However, if that fails, then do not be afraid to say that you don’t know.

Exercise

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Teachers Notes

The reality of things is that anytime the student is standing he or she is practicing the stance whether they are aware of it or not.   As a teacher, your job is to help them get to door, and the rest is up to them.  Often times, you will need to repeat yourself like a broken record to fix your stance, stay 50/50, keep shoulder width apart like a parent talking to a teenage kid.  But, sometimes words are not necessarily the best remedy for understanding the wrong.   Try getting into a habit of allowing the student to feel their errors, and reach that level of “awareness.”  Only then, can they take one level and move to the next.  You must remember you as the teacher can never do it for them, but simply aide them in the process.  And as a final note, that path to reach one student may not necessarily be the same path for the other student to understand the process.  Every student is different, and a good teacher may even have to create a new process in order to help the student learn the lesson.  Once you can do that and mold drills at your command, you truly have then grown.

As a student - When you get older, you have time to reflect, and while I understand that there is the process of growing and learning, I sometimes shake my head at not only ignorance but more so the arrogance on my part, at things I may have said during this time learning the YGKYM.    It was a lesson that needs to be learned, even though its being shared with you.  How often I may have thought if not stated to Sifu, “oh I get it.”  In the reality of things, I did not get a thing, if anything yeah I got a level of understanding, possibly level 1, low and behold I did not realize that there was level 50, 100, if not 1000 in the stance.  Fortunately, having a wise and patient Sifu helped, as he never spoke a word, even lay mention to the foolish I mentioned, but allowed me to develop and grow as a student that there was so much more.  I believe with time comes understanding, to some degree, and greater appreciation, that the stance, is literally everything.  While I was showed the stance from day 1, I do not believe that till about the 5th year, I really, really started to understand what that center meant.  It not a case of not mentally understanding it, but really digesting the words that are spoken by one’s Sifu.

Total # of exercises = 3  The exercise is also place in order of importance.


Each exercise also gives a suggested duration of time to practice it as well as the frequency in a week.

As a teacher -Your gonna have to play mother hen when it comes to the YGKYM stance.  They need that constant reminder, since every new lessons draws attention away from the basics of the stance.  So, be diligent in showing, correcting, and making them feel how the stance helps them with all that they do.  Just constantly repeating to a student your stance, is off, your stance is wrong, will eventually be desensitized to your common repetition.  Its sorta like just saying tappa, tappa, tappa,  So, always allow the feel of the stance to play a more impact of a role then just the words alone. 

The ReTurn to Zero

As I slowly took a sip from my cup, I could feel  the warmth of drink start all the way from my tongue till it reached the bottom of my belly.   Macchiato-grande every morning, if only dad knew I was blowing my allowance on this instead of nutritional food at the cafeteria, he’d kill me.  But all Dad’s whether knowing or not, usually give their daughters that benefit of the doubt.   Cough.. Cough.....  Typical winters here in Chicago, cold and frigid and unforgiving to those with lesser means of transportation.  But there were no complaints coming from me this morning, it is what it is.   Winter is winter, and to expect it to be any lesser then that was foolish.   15 more minutes till the bus arrived, killing time was either done the typical jumping up and down to get blood flowing or the Wing Chun way.  


A quick peek to both sides, and I had the feeling I was going to be the only one this morning foolish enough to wait for the bus.  As Sifu had always told me, time regardless of the amount should be used wisely.  One of the rare times he didn’t sound like a fortune cookie and gave me the straight heads up.    


I had to get one more sip.  There was no way this Macchiato was gonna remain warm if I didn’t finish it on the spot.   The opening of the stance always consisted of 4 motions, and considering how hard the wind was blowing the snow, I figure I could get away with this at the bus stop without any witnesses spotting me.  Sifu had stressed upon the point never take for granted the 4 motions, each one, as with all things in Wing Chun served a purpose.  I have to admit, you would think these are one of those times I would break that rule, but I didn’t.


I finally got of the bus stop seat, and started using my boot to clear a tiny path for me to step in.   Man it was cold.  Finally, a path not that big, a mere 2 feet in diameter, but then again I was a mere 110 lbs, maybe 112 with all the snow on me.  Let’s see, let’s see... It was weird, while being with Sifu only 4 years, every time  I practiced by myself, it almost seemed like I could hear his voice echoing and his instructions.  I stood straight up, with both the heel of my boots touching each other and a small gap between both toes.  It took awhile to understand what Sifu had meant by standing straight up, but he really just meant to find a balance in all things that we do.  Had I done it on day one like I did military style, that was definitely incorrect, or I could’ve gone the route of my grandma and hunch over.  In the end, I had to discover the balance of both being relaxed and tensed.  You’d think that lesson would be earned after 1 day, but in all honesty I really think I just figured that out a couple of months ago.


I stood there perfectly straight, adjusting every new-ounce of motion in my body, till I finally felt I was most relaxed and had my center.  Natural, just stand natural, Sifu always said that was the goal, to find out what was natural for you and to make it feel that way without thought.  Ah, finally.  Stillness, great all this effort and I still haven’t done the first move and still no signs of life coming to the bus stop.


Okay, here goes, left over right and cross the arms.... flip and pull back.  I had made it a habit to do everything step by step, and at the same time repeat exactly what it was that I was doing and why.  I had always enjoyed the fact that Sifu never taught the class military style. The old gun-ho concept of just do it, never appealed to me, coz I always questioned why we did it.   Early on dad forced my brother and I to take Tae Kwon Do (it is our national art) and that was strictly by the book.  He’d kill me if he knew I was taking Wing Chun, but good grades allows for the leash to be loosened, and Wing Chun skills can be applied in more then just fighting.  Anyway, Sifu not only explained it but he seemed to enjoy going into basic and complex details as to each function of the art.   As far as I know, Sifu said that the cross of left over right was the only thing in Wing Chun that was one sided.  He stressed that it was simply done that way, so that you don’t crush the heart.  It is weird, but without that awareness,  I doubt I would’ve ever thought of that on my own.  The cross of the arms is something I’m sure most girls my size would dread, the last thing an asian girl needs to do is make herself look more flat, but the sinking in the chest and maintaining it in order to finish the first step, allowed me to move the center from being top heavy all the way to my belly.  Speaking of which, Macchiato-grande’s aren’t really the breakfast of champions, and I was feeling the ill-effect of not making breakfast my priority. 


The second motion always was difficult for me, for whatever reason, but I bent my knees slightly and tucked in my hips.  I think the difficulty for me was the actual tucking  the hips in.  When Sifu actually demonstrated it, you can literally feel the L4 and L5 stick out a mile away.  He mentioned to me, with more time and practice I could achieve the same result, so yes there was hope for the future, even if it was a fool’s hope.   When I first started studying with Sifu, he placed such a great emphasis on structure.  But when you first here that, it really does mean nothing to you.  But, the 2nd motion, had everything to do with straightening out the spine, this emphasis or focus, was always present in all that we do in the stance.   I always had found the 3rd motion amusing, usually when everyone does this in class, you’ve got a handful of people opening up their legs, and the next thing you know they got their butt sticking out.  But as Sifu had said, do the entire YGKYM, and pretend you’ve got a glass of water on your head, no matter which of the four motions that you do in order to open the stance, never spill that water.  The third motion, even with all its amusement that it caused in class, was more of a future development for doing the Wing Chun front kick.  A lesson I soon learned quickly, is that lesson’s Sifu gives only scratches the surface, and its our job to dig even deeper.


Finally the last motion, opening up and ending up pigeon toed.  I know Sifu says technically their are only 4 motions to open up the YGKYM, I often wonder if he should be more specific and say that there are 4 major motions and a ton of minor adjustments.   After I finished the 4 motions, I literally had a check list of mental notes in my head, just to make sure that I was at the very least, doing the YGKYM remotely correct.


After the 4 steps, Sifu would often mention 2 of the major things to play around with to see if you actually did have your center.  The most major of it, was basically another case of you stretching your spine, so that your vertex would point up to the heavens, while your cocyx would tuck in to allow for that full stretch.  The second thing was simply a case of shifting the weight slightly just to see if maybe by chance you had either too much on the ball of the foot or on the heel.  Either way, the goal was to make sure the foot was flat and the weight was easily distributed throughout.  I can remember it just like yesterday, when Sifu first showed me the YGKYM, it look awkward and felt weak, but 4 years later it feels strong and the effects I’ve used in other things like sports seem unmeasurable.  But still, just like everyone else whose studied with Sifu, I know it, or I think I know what I know about it, but when compared to his stance, I have to admit, I know so little.


Ki- jian, Ki -jian.......... I heard my name muffled through snow, as one of my friends started trudging through it.  Well at least I got to practice 10 minutes,... my macchiato’s cold.



Stories


1)Couch potato - Probably the best of the 3 exercises that one can do to focus on YGKYM, simply for the reason that it does not require a partner, and you can literally do this anytime you plan on watching TV, waiting in a line, or standing for a long period of time.  Simply open up your stance, and focus on your YGKYM for at least 5, 10, to 15 minutes or the length of time of the entire show.  Normally after standing for a good 5 minutes, you’ll feel the ill effect of a lousy stance, and will have to make adjustments.  If that occurs that’s an instant notification that you do not have your center.   On the other hand, if you’ve got your center, you’ll be able to stand in place comfortably for the entire episode.  Now if you plan to do the stance in public, when your waiting in line, make sure you open your stance bypassing steps 1,2, and 3.   You do not want to look like some freak.   But, the YGKYM done correctly looks natural and will blend in with anyone else standing in a crowd. 

Length of time:  minimal 5 minutes to 15 minutes
Frequency:  minimal at least 3 times a week and 5 minutes minimum

Awareness of right and wrong

Right: Remember once you found your center, control, awareness and maintenance of it is constant.  You don’t find it and then forget about it, so in the end you’re constantly adjusting.  It should feel good and comfortable and the best indicator that you have your center is that you can squeeze the ground with your toes.  Also remember that adjustments if done correctly are minimal, big motions to adjust the stance means you didn’t have the center in the first place.

Wrong: Just feel and listen to the stance.  The amount of wrong can be numerous, and any kind of discomfort means that you need to make an adjustment in the stance, since the stance is done naturally and pain free.

Pros – You start developing awareness and unification of the 3 structures of the stance, body and arm triangles

Cons – So much to focus on, its difficult to maintain the awareness just on the stance alone.



2)SLT - While SLT is a good way to practice your YGKYM it does come with one major flaw.  The idea of SLT is one little idea, and with all the hand motions and angles and positioning one must do, focus on one’s center ends up being at the bottom of the totem pole.  Often times, if a student does practice SLT, I tell them to check their center after each end of the section of the form, that way they can have some level of awareness in their stance, and not only in their hands.  Make sure when you do SLT, that even before starting the first motion of the form which is sup jee sau, do the best you can at finding your center.


The traditional way, back in the days before cable and internet was to sit in the stance and practice SLT for 40 to 45 minutes.  But to ask the google generation to do that is not adjusting to the current state that we are in.  And keep in mind if you do the form for 15 minutes, literally its the first section that takes 14 of that 15 minutes to perform, since the 2nd and 3rd section are done at regular speed.  I believe in Tucson the way Sifu teaches, they literally start the class with SLT every single time for a good 15 minutes.



Length of time:  minimal 5 minutes to 15 minutes
Frequency:  minimal at least 1 time a week would

Awareness of right and wrong

Right: Ability to hold the stance comfortably throughout the entire form.  The better the stance the less muscle you have to use when performing the hand techniques in the SLT.

Wrong: Usually when you practice the form and try to be aware of your stance a student will end up leaning forward or back and the center has to constantly be put back in place.  Also when doing hand techniques you should not be wobbling back and forth.


Pros – You start developing awareness and unification of the 3 structures of the stance, body and arm triangles

Cons – So much to focus on, its difficult to maintain the awareness just on the stance alone.


3) Timeout - The idea of this particular exercise is to stand within tan sau range near a wall, and face it with your YGKYM.  Once you are in proper position, you gently push with either hand against the wall, and see how your center reacts to that initial push.  Done correctly, you’ll feel solid and rooted and feel the force actually being driven down to your feet. 
The pro for this is to know the feel of how force runs through the body and towards the feet if done correctly.  This does not have the same developmental value as say the couch potato or SLT being practiced over time.

Length of time:  1 to 2 minutes at best
Frequency:  Not to often, just to know the feeling of how force and your stance connect

Awareness of right and wrong

Right: When your center is in place you immediately feel the force being driven down to the ground.  Its an instant sensation even with a pinch of pressure.

Wrong: Make sure the distance is correct and you’re standing straight.  Sometime you might end up cheating yourself by leaning into the wall thinking your stance is actually solid, when in fact it isn’t.


Pros – You learn the sensation of how force interacts with your body correctly and hopefully you’ll remember what you have to do to put your body in the right position.

Cons – It’s a quick exercise just to know the feel, it doesn’t have the investment of time necessary to actually help out your stance in the long wrong.

How to YGKYM