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#351849 - 07/17/07 01:29 PM Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
I think as a rule of thumb it's discussed that Okinawan stances are higher than the Japanese ones, and mostly implying Shotokan stances for that comparison.

Of course it's always a matter of degree.

On Okinawa, some systems stances (such as Uechi and Isshinryu) are often much higher than other Okinawan systems stances.

Likewise my observation of Shito Ryu stances seem higher than most associated with the different Shotokan groups.

But stances are, in my experiences, less relevant than the training that develops their use. In fact I can make a case one can explode back into a deeper stance faster and then explode from it in less time than when one uses higher stances (of course this would take considerable testing among highly qualified adepts to make a true case).

But if you add China to the mixture, Many of their systems would look askance that the Japanese stances were low.

As an exmaple, many of the Northern Chinese stances are ultra low, and they work to move very quickly from them.

It's always a matter of 1) perspective, what you want to believe, 2) training to actualize the tenants of your system of choice and 3) Tactical usage of stance to make the speed of an attacker irrelevant.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#351850 - 07/17/07 02:33 PM Re: Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China [Re: Victor Smith]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Victor -

I was under the impression that many of the northern styles that had very low stances had been designed more for exercise value, as opposed to fighting utility.
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

#351851 - 07/17/07 03:53 PM Re: Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China [Re: MattJ]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Matt,

Well the Northern Systems I played in when I was younger didn't do those stances just for physical training.

The idea of stances isn't so much you fight in them, but you move through them as you fight. A very low stance might be the ending/takedown of a technique, or it may be a starting point to come off the ground in various tactical situations (cross reference that from a siliat point of view).

No doubt most of the time the Northern stylist will be using higher stances, but their range, their flex is fuller because of their training.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#351852 - 07/17/07 04:51 PM Re: Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China [Re: Victor Smith]
WuXing Offline

Registered: 10/24/05
Posts: 481
Loc: Idaho, USA
That's what my undestanding is. Of course, practicing low stances can help enduranc and flexibility, too...but they are really versatile positions. In fighting, you don't stay in a stance, it is a constant flow. You practice the various stances to learn to generate power and to be mobile in and from those positions. Sometimes you are high and sometimes you are low, but you always need to be able to deliver techniques effectively. A lot of martial arts, especially Chinese styles, are about fighting in a way people won't expect. This is why styles like monkey, ground boxing, and even drunken boxing, were known to have is their ability to deliver powerful blows in unorthodox methods or from unorthodox positions. This isn't the only way, obviously, but it is one way that has been effective. Even styles that are more "stand up" have techniques and stances which are evasive and unexpected.
From my practice, this is what I consider the main purpose of very low stances in these styles. (Though having students stand in a low horse stance or cat stance is good training, least to train their patience )

Now, you're in trouble if you're going to stand facing someone in a horse stance and expect them to walk into your chambered punches...but anyone with a little experience knows this isn't how anyone fights.

#351853 - 07/18/07 11:22 AM Re: Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China [Re: WuXing]
hedkikr Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 2827
Loc: Southern California, USA
As a Shito-ryu practitioner w/ a Shotokan background, I appreciate higher stances for a number of reasons. If honestly answered, older Shotokan practitioners (Sensei) will admit that over the years, the long, low stances have taken their toll on knees & lower backs.

#351854 - 07/20/07 12:39 AM Re: Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
I'm not a weapons practitioner, but having access to observing advanced kobudoka, I notice that there was a definite theme as it relates to stance mechanics. my observation was this:

In general, but not always - the longer the range of the use of the weapon, the longer and lower the stances. someone using sai tended to stay in higher stances than someone using a bo for instance - and that seems to hold true for just about all the kobudo forms I've seen as well.

so can I extrapolate, that: the longer the stance, the longer the intended range?

is it also reasonable that this theme would more or less carry over to weaponless systems?

perhaps if we see a style developed that was based on shorter stances, but opted to lengthen the stance...a reasonable assumption would be the intended range of use has increased in the new system?

#351855 - 07/20/07 02:44 AM Re: Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China [Re: Ed_Morris]
Shonuff Offline

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 604
Loc: London, UK
Ed, it is a reasonable assumption but it does not make it a correct one.
In this video we see both sword and spear practiced, both in relatively short stances.

If your philosophy of combat involves evasiveness i.e. a high emphasis on mobility, parrying and not being there then higher stances will work better for you. If your philosophy is solidity, being the rock on which the attacker breaks his weapons, then a firm dep stance will work better. Most of the shoalin I've seen is fought at boxing range (which I believe is the range you feel karate is fouhgt at) but it is done from exceptionally deep stances where the fighter is very strong and solid. A deep stance fighter will block and deflect and use the lengthof his stance to move and evade.

If you look at close quarter chinese systems from the north you find that fighters sit in very deep stances but stay very close.

Take a look at the stances in this form:

Then look at some of the application potential of the art:

Personally I think if Shuri-te linneage karate is related to anything from china it is most likely hung gar or one of its relations. How they apply their kung fu is how I apply much of the Shotokan I've learned.

Edited by Shonuff (07/20/07 03:18 AM)
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

#351856 - 07/20/07 03:29 AM Re: Low Stances - Okinawa - Japan - China [Re: Shonuff]
Shonuff Offline

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 604
Loc: London, UK
Check this out!

1. This is the kind of movie fight that got me into martial arts as a kid.
2. Despite being a movie the kungfu in it is excellent and it gives a fantastic insight into the use of long-fist systems (Hung gar and Northern shoalin I believe) in close quarters. I'm sure everyone will be able to pick out the practical from the fantasy...
3. Once again, this fight scene is so cool!
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!


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