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#432693 - 06/07/11 05:43 PM Stances
Razma Offline

Registered: 05/19/11
Posts: 36
How important do all of you think the traditional stances are in Karate? I tend to fluctuate a lot. Sometimes it feels very important other times not so much. How important are the traditional stances for generating power?

#432694 - 06/07/11 06:33 PM Re: Stances [Re: Razma]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Ha, you are asking 2 different questions, which will have different answers. wink

"How important do all of you think the traditional stances are in Karate?"

I would imagine that stances are very important in karate from a stylistic/historical perspective. Changing the elements of a style will change the style. Pretty soon, you are doing wing chun, right?

"How important are the traditional stances for generating power?"

Not at all important. Boxers don't use *any* stances, and KO people all the time - with gloves on.
"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

#432695 - 06/07/11 07:10 PM Re: Stances [Re: Razma]
gojuman59 Offline

Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 224
Loc: Missouri
I go back and forth on this also. Actually I'm leaning towards not using the traditional stances. This is not to say that power is generated just out of thin air. An example of this is the common chudan tsuke. In order to get the most power from this technique I need to get my body to work as machine. By that I mean that I have to ground my feet in a stance and let the technique flow up my legs through my core all the way to my fists. The trick is finding that instant of grounding your stance. It can't be a long time because you need to be mobile.
This is a misconception about my style (Okinawan Goju ryu.) People see us walking in Sanchin or shiko-dachi and think that we would approach an attacker like that. You know, moving using the crescent half-moon steps.The crescent walking is just a excercise to train the body to get into sanchin at a moments notice when a full frontal assault comes.You use that stance to absorb the attack then get out of it to transition into a more mobile stance.
Traditional stances,IMHO, are to rigid to use exclusively in a self defense situation. By that I mean staying in stance at all times. I do believe that they can be used for techniques as long as they are fluid. The transition from stance to stance has to be smooth or one will be torn apart.
On the street an attacker with boxing skills and good footwork will waste you if you aren't mobile yourself.

keep training, Mark

#432696 - 06/07/11 07:33 PM Re: Stances [Re: gojuman59]
duanew Offline

Registered: 06/28/08
Posts: 326
Loc: MN
It depends on your knowledge of the stances and their proper application.


#432697 - 06/07/11 07:58 PM Re: Stances [Re: duanew]
Razma Offline

Registered: 05/19/11
Posts: 36
Matt I was talking more about stances for the most power out of a technique. Also, boxers use stances. Orthodox Stance Detroit stance. Peakaboo stance.

#432698 - 06/07/11 08:29 PM Re: Stances [Re: Razma]
Zach_Zinn Offline

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 1031
Loc: Olympia, WA
Speaking strictly static stances aren't important at all for power generation, you can learn to hit hard on one foot, from a variety of stances and methods of movement.

Stances serve a tactical purpose, for instance things done from Zenkutsu dachi are done that way because whatever you are doing (take the simple example of an forward elbow spike) requires forward momentum and posture.

Neko ashi dachi is a backward flinch motion, shiko dachi is an uprooting and throwing posture, which can actually be found in Judo throws, and older battlefield techniques. Look up ura nage if you want an example.

If you stop looking at the end points of Karate techniques frozen in time, and look at what they are actually meant to do it will make alot more sense to you.

Do you need them, well that depends, if you are doing Karate, the techniques are the way they are for a reason..but the fact is that a ton of Karate dojos don't spend any time on the combative bits, preferring kata-as-show, point sparring, and some uninspired static bunkai drills.

If you don't know that reason, or don't actually know what the techniques are for then they won't hold that much relevance for you, in that case, is it Karate? I don't know, apparently plenty of people think it is.

Take a look at Ian Abernethy or Kris Wilder's stuff if you are having a hard time understanding what stances are's really pretty obvious, but if most of what you do in class is typical ranged Karate sparring you will normally be putting like 2% of what is there to use, and most of the stances and other stuff in your curriculum isn't gonna make sense from that standpoint.

And can spar, do freeplay, go dynamic with the traditional techniques with some safety modifications.

There really is no panacea for hitting hard, there are a bunch of different ways to hit hard "correctly".

So how you stand and move, yeah of course that affects power generation, when you break stances into different points in time and evaluate them from there though (like kata nad kihon)...that's a thing of looking at tactics.

Traditional stances,IMHO, are to rigid to use exclusively in a self defense situation. By that I mean staying in stance at all times

That is just common sense, holding a static posture for any amount of time in a real situation is usually a bad idea, and quickly gets you beaten. A "fighting stance" is the stuff of fantasy. Stances are not meant to be viewed like that, someone who views them like that (instructor, student, hanshi, grand poobah, whatever) does not get what they are for.

Do you think the people that invented the kata you do thought it was a good idea to stand statically in stances while someone pounded on them? I don't.

Edited by Zach_Zinn (06/07/11 09:05 PM)

#432702 - 06/08/11 02:08 AM Re: Stances [Re: Zach_Zinn]
Mark Jordan Offline

Registered: 06/09/10
Posts: 138
Loc: Burbank, California
One must be fluid in self-defense and stances are important in karate as these are the foundation to good technique. These are the "first baby steps" you need to take to learn karate and is it important to have proper karate stance.

#432721 - 06/11/11 01:49 PM Re: Stances [Re: Mark Jordan]
Ives Offline

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 691
Loc: the Netherlands
Stances have different meanings in training.
At the entry-level it is important to have a strong base for your techniques. Zenkutsu- and Shiko-Dachi are good for that.
At an other stage those same techniques can be a real challenge while in a less stable stance (at first) like Kokutsu- or Neko-ashi-Dachi. The techniques will become less dependant of the stance.

#432730 - 06/11/11 07:35 PM Re: Stances [Re: Ives]
Matakiant Offline

Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 128
Well I consider traditional Karate stances to be training tools.

Using them with that in mind is very beneficial.

There is no grand secret behind them. I.o no movie magic as in you stand this way and generate 3 times more power than ususal!

Like Zach Zinn said obviously stances, the way you move etc affect power and such but if you just go through the old stances and kata using them as training tools and practice some sort of contact kumite and train with contact in mind you will eventually develop movement that is fine tuned to your body and what is best for you.

#432838 - 06/17/11 04:08 AM Re: Stances [Re: Matakiant]
Crazy Monkey NM Offline

Registered: 06/17/11
Posts: 2
Loc: Rio Rancho, New Mexico
It depends on your goal for the stance. The stance in our system, for instance, has the main goal of delivering all offensive weapons, countering the takedown, and being centered in a position of balance. A thai fighter stands higher to deliver faster kicks, and he doesn't have to worry about takedowns to the same extent. As point fighting developed, boxers moved from a more squared bare knuckle stance into a stance that utilized the jab more prominently. Takedowns and clinch are not as much of an issue for the boxer, so his stance can afford to be more bladed since he doesn't have to worry about the sprawl. Traditional stances for your particular system probably evolved the way they did for a reason. I am not as hip to traditional martial art history so I cannot say whether your art developed it's stances for asthetics or functionality. I would venture to say, however, that if you are doing techniques from a differing stance, you are probably modifying them to fit your own style. This can have its place, but know why you're doing it
_________________________ "Because Life Doesn't Have a Referee"

#433116 - 07/06/11 04:14 PM Re: Stances [Re: Razma]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Interesting thread. Stances can be viewed in several different ways, one of which is, as stated previously, is a platform from which to throw your techniques in the most beneficial way possible for your body to put weight behind them. This is regardless of style. Though each systems' take on stance might be somewhat different, you are not, for example learning to throw effective punches from a horse stance or easily learn to give a good side kick from a forward leaning boxing stance (though I have seen people do this).

So you can define stances in a couple of ways: 1) Where it's just a snap shot of where your body is when moving from point A to B; or 2) As a mechanical structure to intuit your system's fundamental power channeling capability to throw good, effective techniques. In the latter case, I think it's good to get a foundation from this traditional background and then to be able to subtley change this later when expertise becomes greater, since every one's body is a little different anyway. But the mechanics of throwing a good punch really don't alter that much within a system and need a proper foundation to feed it.

Just as a side note, if you have been trained in a good kibadachi and a good front stance (whatever your style calls it), you now have two stances to use in throwing an opponent and controlling his downward motion. That's when you start to realize that some of the traditional stuff has merit outside the box and have applications in other ways.


#433153 - 07/09/11 01:20 AM Re: Stances [Re: Razma]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Razma:

Stances are FUNDAMENTAL to power generation. Without them, power cannot be explored intelligently. Randomly, haphazardly there is NO simple way to consistantly explore power generation. One way one day, a totally different method, radically different body parts the next. Foolish chaos...

You start from extremely common positions, feet, hips, hands. With starting positions (ie stances) you map what causes power and what does not. Examined long enough and you run "face first" into all the other stances of a given art.

What happens when we are very balanced, (low hips wide stance) how do you cause power from that position? Hey what causes power when you actively tuck your pelvis, and hips actively under rather than tilted them outward? What happens when you turn both your feet inward in a narrow stance... what happens then? Can power be generated by doing so <wg>? What happens when you are putting weight only on one foot... how does that create power? Can power be generated with one foot BEHIND the other (reverse T, reverse cat, etc.)

What are the dangers, the tangible vulnerabilities of any of the above... Stances cause us to organize and create serious power from seemingly vulnerable positions. Stances challenge us to generate power from different structural alignments, using different muscles, and sequences of contraction and release.

Stances also provide structure with which to EFFECTIVELY maintain a dynamic position, or in the alternative go forward. Structure, and being efficent with it is a serious, critical lesson of all positions/stances. Stances even those done solely standing still (generic stance training) are pure gold... if we are even half awake!


#433164 - 07/09/11 09:37 AM Re: Stances [Re: Ronin1966]
gojuman59 Offline

Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 224
Loc: Missouri
Thanks, Ronin 1966. That was a great posting.You explained things real well.


#433432 - 07/24/11 02:57 PM Re: Stances [Re: gojuman59]
karateknowledge Offline

Registered: 07/20/11
Posts: 4
Everyone's replies are really interesting!

If you consider the creating of traditional kata back in the day: fighters putting what worked for them into a set pattern so it can easily be passed on, stances would just be an average of hundreds of real life trials.

For example, you step forward, block an attack and throw a punch. Only after the fact will you look down and notice the position of your feet. So I think stances were what felt most comfortable for the fighter at the time.

And when that initial stance got categorized, people then looked at proper body alignment and further generation of power/stability through the stance aka "why it worked"

I say, at first do what feels comfortable for you to generate power, and then adjust to the proper form once you're more in tune with your body. There's no reason to throw away centuries of research, cause the old masters pretty much did the work for us.

Good luck with your training

#433435 - 07/25/11 08:24 AM Re: Stances [Re: karateknowledge]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Originally Posted By: karateknowledge
I say, at first do what feels comfortable for you to generate power, and then adjust to the proper form once you're more in tune with your body.

You say? That's what Funakoshi said mister!

Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.

He also said.

Practicing a kata is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.

In other words, stances are transitional.
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<

#433446 - 07/26/11 10:28 PM Re: Stances [Re: BrianS]
Shonuff Offline

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 604
Loc: London, UK
Careful Brian, your dogma is showing.

Stances are indeed transitional, except when they are not.
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

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