Ask an architect what is the most important part of designing a skyscraper, and they will tell you that it is having a sound and secure base. Likewise in karate, one of the most important fundaments you can have is a strong and secure base. In this case, stances are your base. Lets examine some of the main stances we use in class, and how you can make them sparkle.
Fighting Stance – One of the most important stances as you fight in this stance. You want to make sure your feet are not too close together, and that your weight is balanced. You want to be able to move in any direction, and can transition your weight to either leg to throw a kick in any direction. Heel-toe alignment is the way to go. Using a straight line, have your front toes just to one side of the line, and have your rear heal just to the other side of the line. It sounds like an easy stance, but students find themselves doing it poorly and hindering their ability to fight effectively.
Front Stance – A front stance is an important part of most katas, and involves your legs being about shoulder width apart. Your weight is towards the front leg, and your hips are parallel to the direction your front toes are pointing. Having a strong front stance will allow you to be stable and powerful, and should you be hit or pushed, it should be very difficult to knock you over.
Lunge Stance – Some students find the lunge stance difficult to maintain. From the front stance position, the rear leg is lowered until the knee is very close to the ground. Your back is nice and straight and your core supports you.
Reverse Stance – A proper reverse stance involves being able to shift your weight and control it. The bulk of your weight is on your back leg, and your front leg is straight. Both feet are pointing approximately 135 degrees from the front and your neck is turned to look over your shoulder.
Cat Stance -- The cat stance is aptly named, as when you are in this stance, you are ready to pounce. 80-90 percent of your weight is on your back leg, and your front leg is bent and your rear foot is pointed 45 degrees. Your hips are straight, and you should be able to easily pick up your front knee quickly to kick.
One fantastic way to warm-up in karate is to go through a stance sequence. Try the following: Standing in Choon-bi, step the right leg out into a front stance. Pause for 5 seconds. Drop the rear knee towards the floor moving into lunge stance. Pause for 5 seconds. Bring you leg back up and rotate counter-clockwise into reverse stance. Pause for 5 seconds. Bring the front leg in towards you body and into cat stance. Pause for 5 seconds. Return to Choon-bi. Repeat with the left side. Do this sequence a few times on each side often and watch your overall karate skills improve!
There are other stances we use including riding horse stance, cross stance and twist stance, and they have their uses, but in general, the above stances are your staples. Make sure you practice them often and have a black belt look at you do them to assure you are hitting the correct positions with the correct posture. This will help ensure that your skyscraper is solid, and will last a lifetime!