Why we use stances

If someone asked you what stances you adopt in a day you’d probably answer ‘none’.  It’s not a formal term we tend to think of in our everyday movement, however we’re using them all the time.

One of the first words you’ll hear when training karate or Bonsai Chi is ‘yoi’ or ‘ready stance’.  Your feet are placed in line shoulder width apart, directly under your shoulders.  By keeping your head up you keep your head in alignment with your spine, allowing you to stand up straight.

To be able to move effectively from here we move our feet and bodyweight into a variety of ‘stances’.  By placing our feet in the correct position we allow our bodyweight to be distributed correctly, ensuring we don’t fall over as we move.

Each stance is differentiated by the foot orientation and distribution of bodyweight.

In karate training we use a variety of stances depending on what we’re trying to achieve with a technique.  Many techniques can be executed from different stances, allowing us to create different outcomes.

We use open or closed stances and techniques.  By using an open stance we can draw our partner in towards us, encourage them to come closer.  Conversely a closed stance ensures that we’re covering all the necessary areas of our body ensuring that we’re suitably protected.

Long or short? Long stances allow us to drop our body weight into a technique, whilst short allows us to manoeuvre/pivot easily; moving towards or away from an opponent.

Being individuals we all have different attributes, one being height.  Practising high and low stances allow us to execute techniques to achieve a different outcome, it also teaches us how to apply them to opponents of different heights.  There’s no point using a low stance on a tall person and trying to hit them in the head!

When you’re moving around, perhaps just in your home, concentrate on how you move, where you place your feet and body weight.  You might be surprised to see just how many ‘stances’ you use.

The vidoes below are examples of kata that we practise in Wado Ryu and Bonsai Chi classes.  How many stances do you see being used?

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