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#389494 - 04/02/08 12:01 PM Moving through stances
horizon Offline

Registered: 07/24/05
Posts: 143
Loc: London
I practise Seido karate in the UK, and as I'm going for my 1st kyu testing in 3 months time I'm doing a lot of research on the web, looking up bunkai for different kata, and generally see how different styles perform different katas.

One thing I noticed was the different way people from different styles move through their stances. I notice that in various styles, when people move forward in zenkutsu dachi, the back leg will first slide forwards and inwards to the front leg before sliding forwards and outwards, making a zig-zag pattern. At my dojo I am taught to move from A to B in the shortest possible way, thus moving my back leg in a straight line forward forward, without moving it to my front foot first. The reasons for this are:
this is the fastest way to move forward
and the best way to keep your balance (when you bring your foot to your front foot you create a moment in the stance in which you will be taken off balance very easily).

(I hope this makes sense)

I've been thinking when and why moving in a zig-zag stance would be more benificial. What I came up with was that in a situation in which you are 'crowded' by the other person to your open side, you could off-balance them moving forward/sideward into zenkutsu dachi, placing your back foot in between their feet, pushing them off balance, or positioning your front foot in such a way you could sweep them. This will require to bring in your back foot to your front foot first before moving it in between the legs of the opponent.
then again i could see problem with this; if you don't move quick enough you leave yourself vulnerable with your foot in between theirs...

Does this make any sense (find it hard to explain the picture I've got in my head and are relying on your sense of imagination here )

Anyway, I was thinking wat other people's opinion are on this one. Any ideas, other ways to move forward from zenkutsu dachi to zenkutsu dachi, why do it a certain way?

Ichi Nichi Issho - one day, one lifetime

#389495 - 04/02/08 12:40 PM Re: Moving through stances [Re: horizon]
underdog Offline

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1270
Loc: Mansfield, MA U.S.A.
Zig zag gives you a bunch of different leg traps. I'm prevented from understanding 100% of what you are saying because I don't do your style and we speak English for our stances but I think I get the gist.
The older I get, the better I was!

#389496 - 04/02/08 12:57 PM Re: Moving through stances [Re: horizon]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA

I think you also have to consider what a stance is and how it is perceived by the one using it. For me, stances are not aspired to things that one plops down in for the sake of the stance, but are just training devices when practiced.

In essence, I hold that stances are somewhat artificial when taught, but are basically two things: 1) Snapshots of physical movement from point A to B; and 2) Platforms from which to strike or kick or grab. In either case, the goal is less to aspire to the stance, but more considered in the way the stance is helpful for me to move or launch an attack.

#389497 - 04/02/08 01:00 PM Re: Moving through stances [Re: horizon]
everyone Offline

Registered: 01/02/07
Posts: 597
Loc: USA
I do not have a Karate background but in Kung fu we use the zigzag step you describe. It is more commonly called a c-step. You are right; it can be used effectively as a sweep or unbalancing movement. Also the transition when your feet are close together allows you to change direction mid-step. This mobility makes it difficult for your opponent to read/anticipate your movements. (Itís like chambering your leg for a kick, almost any kick can come from it.) The moment when the feet are together you may feel vulnerable but the balance is such that you can step out with either foot as needed for defense. Stepping directly may be the fastest movement but it is easier to read and is more committed so it is easier to counter. There are times and places for either way of stepping.

#389498 - 04/02/08 03:21 PM Re: Moving through stances [Re: butterfly]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Well said, Brad. "Stance" is something of a misnomer, since you generally do not want to be immobile for any length of time. They are more like transitional positions used, as Brad noted, to set up better positions relative to the opponent. Sometimes it is easier to move straight from A to B. Other times, there may be a physical impediment that you have to move around, or it may take two steps to get the proper angle you need.

Your needs will determine the best manner of movement.
"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

#389499 - 04/02/08 03:52 PM Re: Moving through stances [Re: horizon]
Zach_Zinn Offline

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 1031
Loc: Olympia, WA
The point of learning the crescent step is learning to pull off your front leg without breaking your balance or structure at all, and without bobbing your weight up and down. Also as everyone mentioned, once you get good enough at this that you are not moving anything other than the minimum needed it can be about not telegraphing movement.

Picking up your feet instead of sliding them makes for more noticable movement.

One of the things that's done in sanchin testing sometimes in Goju is to add some kind of pressure to someones center while they move in stance.

If they are moving in a manner similar to walking, where they pick up one foot and try to move it to propel themselves forward with the back leg, even a little pressure will stop them in their tracks.

If they pull off the fromt leg they can easily move you when doing this.

What's the relevancy? just balance and stucture and all that implies I guess.

Obviously things don't always look the same in application, but if you wanted a geeky Karate answer then that'd be it, structure. Similar results if you punch em' instead of pushing on them.

Anyway most of this came from my teacher and one of his books, The Way Of Sanchin Kata. Not trying to advertise here but I feel I should mention it since that's where i'm talking from.

Another thing is too much side to side movement in a crescent step does take you off balance, and thus the importance of simply moving yourself by pulling off the front leg in stance, rather than attempting to use too much lateral hip movement.

Try having someone push you around in different ways of moving in stance, movement you thought was balanced may not be, and vice versa.

Alot of this applies to Sanchin stance, but as far as I can tell it seems to hold for zenkutsu as well.

Anyway I personally wouldn't over think it in terms of the "when and where" application stuff for just this, it's more a general principle of movement that can apply in a bunch of different places in Karate.

At any rate that's my perception of it, have you specifically asked your own teacher why you guys do what you do?

I've found there are a number of different views on this stuff in the Karate world, and I'll bet they aren't neccessarily mutually exclusive.

Edited by Zach_Zinn (04/02/08 04:03 PM)

#389500 - 04/03/08 04:42 AM Re: Moving through stances [Re: Zach_Zinn]
horizon Offline

Registered: 07/24/05
Posts: 143
Loc: London
Thanks all for your opinions and points of view. This is what i like about martial arts, there is so much to it. It also makes me aware very often that I still have so much to learn, which I love

Butterfly and MattJ: I'm getting to the point in my training where my instructors are emphasizing your points as well. We practise our stances in lots of formal ways, but the higher we move up grades, the more important it become to know why you are doing things and how you can use it. Formality starts making way for practicallity in a way. I guess when you look at it from that point of view, there is no 'right' or 'wrong' on how you move through a stance, or into a stance, as long as it gets you to what you want to do/achieve.

Zach-Zinn, we practise sanchin kata as well, in the same way you describe, with added pressure.
When we are doing line-work in forward leaning stance, one of the aims is to keep our centre of gravity low and not bob up and down (if you do, you'll get wacked in the head until you don't anymore We're told to lead with our centre, our belly-button so to say, to keep our balance.

When doing line-work or kata we are told to move straight ahead, without pulling in first. But when it comes to bunkai it depends on the situations ofcourse, just as all of you guys said as well. When it's necessary to pull in first, you pull in.

Thanks again
And just a small note, this is my 100th post
Ichi Nichi Issho - one day, one lifetime

#389501 - 04/08/08 01:16 AM Re: Moving through stances [Re: horizon]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
good thread horizon - another little thought to consider, or maybe you are already aware of... When you are working on your transitioning and stepping, etc...instead of trying to get your legs there first, try instead to get your center of gravity moved at the same time as your feet/legs.

it will feel like an exageration at first - almost as if someone is pulling you by your belt.

This is what's meant by the phrase "moving with your hara" and "where your hara goes, your legs will follow"

#389502 - 04/08/08 04:48 AM Re: Moving through stances [Re: Ed_Morris]
horizon Offline

Registered: 07/24/05
Posts: 143
Loc: London
One of my instructors always tells us to 'lead with our belly button', which is essentially the same as what you suggest It's something I'm working on at the moment, a slowly getting better at it. I like practising that with my hands on my hips. doing this I discovered I used to use my arm movements for balancing and controlling my stance. By putting my hands on hips and focus on my balance and moving from my belly button I don't use my arms for balancing so much anymore. (I hope that made sense).
Ichi Nichi Issho - one day, one lifetime

#389503 - 04/08/08 12:38 PM Re: Moving through stances [Re: horizon]
underdog Offline

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1270
Loc: Mansfield, MA U.S.A.
I've certainly heard that, to move with your hara. The observable effect is for better posture and more centered stances. More likely, in our school, we will hear to drive off the back leg. The observable effect that has is to create more power. From my perspective, I can see doing both at the same time. I think this Mental approach gives you better awareness of where you are, power and center.
The older I get, the better I was!

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