Your stance is one of the most important elements in your arsenal.

In fact, without a good stance you will not be able deliver a fully effective leg kick or hand strike. You may get lucky with a sloppy punch or kick, but in the long run, without a strong stable stance all of your martial arts skills will be weak.

Training tip:

Practice your stances by rooting your bare feet and toes into the floor. Grip the floor with your toes.  

Lower your knees to add more weight to your stance.  

Make sure you’re standing in a balanced position.  

Keep your upper body in line with the centre of your body.

Focus your gaze upon a near-distant object, or on a spot on a wall or mirror in front of you.

Relax your mind and breathe deeply.

Work through any discomfort or pain.

Hold your stance for 15 minutes without moving.

Repeat on both sides.

Seiza: To sit seiza-style, one must first be kneeling on the floor, folding one’s legs underneath one’s thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels. The ankles are turned outward as the tops of the feet are lowered so that, in a slight “V” shape, the tops of the feet are flat on the floor and big toes sometimes are overlapped, and the buttocks are finally lowered all the way down. The hands are placed palm down on the upper thighs with the fingers close together. The back is kept straight, though not unnaturally stiff. Traditionally, women sit with the knees together while men separate them slightly.

Informal Stance: Feet shoulder width apart, knees bent slightly. RH on LH (palms open) in front of groin.

Ready position: Feet shoulder width apart, knees bent slightly. RL to LL, RH crosses on LH and then both hands move out to be opposite their respective hips as the RL steps out to shoulder width. As the hands move to finish position say ‘Osu’ (Oss).

Formal stance: Feet together, knees bent slightly. Right fist to left fist, index finger knuckles touching, in front of groin.

Handicap Stance: Feet shoulder width apart. RL back 1 inch. Hands RH on LH, open palm, in front of groin.

Left angle stance : This is an attacking stance for agility and power. Feet pointing to 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock position depending on which side you are using. RL back just offline with Left leg. Think of two train tracks one on each shoulder. Each foot should be on a track. Bend LL knee so you can just see your toes over you knee, shin should be straight up and down.

Straight stance: This is an attacking stance for stability and speed. Feet pointing to 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock position depending on which side you are using. RL back out at shoulder width in line with right shoulder. Bend LL knee so you can just see your toes over you knee, shin should be straight up and down.

Right Angle stance: This is an attacking stance. Feet pointing to 2 o’clock position or 10 o’clock position depending on which side you are using. RL back just offline with LL. Bend LL knee so you can just see your toes over you knee, shin should be straight up and down.

Riding horse: feet just outside your shoulder width, toes pointed forward, knees bent. Like you were sitting on a horse. Hands on ribcage.

WHS: This is a defensive stance. Feet facing forward, sit down into stance with feet spread wide. Similar to riding horse position or Kiba Dachi. Hands back on ribs in closed fist. Keep bum in and back straight. Thighs should be parallel with the floor. Push your hips forward so your back and torso is straight.

Side Horse Stance: This is a defensive stance. Same as wide horse but facing side on to opponent. Hands usually in low down or crescent position.

Cat Stance: This is a counter attacking stance. Back leg bent at knee and facing 45 degree angle. Front leg resting lightly on ball of foot on the ground about 6 inches from back foot facing forward. Hands in crescent defence. Your weight should be distributed 80/20 on the back leg.

Long Cat Stance: Same as above but your heel is now where your toes were in short cat stance. Weight should still be distributed 80/20 on back leg.

Side cat stance: Take front leg and turn foot to side. Ready for snap side kick. Rotate hips to wide horse position so leg can twist.

Reverse Stance: This is a defensive stance. Start in LAS, rotate at your hips the lower half of your body 180 degrees to the right. Your feet now should be pointing at 10 o’clock but your body and head should be facing back towards the front. Bend the front leg down to the floor but do not drop knee on floor. Alter your guard position to low angle, LH forward.

Alternate reverse Stance: Stay up in LAS in reverse and have torso facing back the other way with hands in crescent defence facing to other direction from way feet are pointing.

Hammer Stance: This is an attacking stance. Standing in LAS, drop the rear knee until your thigh is 90 degrees with the floor, but do not drop knee to floor. Raise your back foot up onto ball of foot. Your back foot should be straight up and down. Your upper body should still be on an angle in angle stance.

Shifting sands

Informal
Handicap
Wide horse
Riding horse
Fighting stance
Long angle stance
Side horse
Reverse
Short cat