From the ground up (stances)
Updated: Apr 27, 2018
This blog I am going to touch on a few of the main points in my opinion that are important when we are thinking about the technicalities of stances and principles behind them.
Firstly, let us touch on what a stance is, a stance is reflection of your body weight and how you transition to positions to deliver techniques.
Whether this be transitioning to the front (Zenkutsu dachi) or to the back (Kokutsu dachi), each stance in karate is a result of moving you weight in that particular way.
Now let us start from the floor!
Connection to the Floor
The connection to the floor is so important enabling you to have the correct body alignment and this all starts with the foot positions. Having both feet going in the direction of the technique (generally, depending on ankle flexibility) and having the inner thigh connection provides stability and support.
Scott Langley Sensei, refers this as ‘dialling in your stance’
Without this, your base can be unstable and can buckle under stress.
This is probably the most important element when it comes to our body connection practice.
The 3 most common hips positions widely known in karate is Hanmi (Half facing/Half body), Shomen (Front), Gyaku Hanmi (Reverse half facing/Half body).
All these positions can be found in our kata practice, but we have to train mindfully to utilise each of these positions to the maximum.
In addition, we have to develop our ability to drive into each of these positions and the correct timing between the hips rotating and deliverance of the technique.
In the stance
Another important principle is fully using the stance and sitting IN the stance and not ON the stance.
This may sound very confusing and I can understand why!!
What I mean by this is to listen to your body and allow yourself to relax while adopting the chosen stance, this will give you a relaxed base and full mobility of your hips instead of using your muscles to hold yourself up.
Following on from this relaxed position, you can explode into movement to deliver the chosen technique which leads me onto my final point.
This is generally referred to as you ‘middle/Centre line’, it is an imaginary vertical line passing through the centre of your body.
This is very important while stationary for example for balance, but especially important while in motion and transitioning.
This is a point of reference for the execution of any technique or hip position to keep the body alignment.
When in motion using the connection to the floor, inner thigh squeeze and seichusen can produce balanced and connected technique.
These are the general principles of stances I believe are most important to having a stable and strong base.
More importantly, stances are not designed to be motionless the techniques are to be delivered during the transitions to deliver techniques with body weight and connection.
Also we have to continually develop our study to go beyond just the form, Shuharei principle.
A quote from Funakoshi Sensei sums up this thinking:
“Stances are for beginners, Advances students use natural positions.”
The Journey Continues…