Martial arts teachers often do the same comparison to explain why you need good karate stances. Your stance is like the foundation of your house. If you build it on a bad foundation and it falls, no matter how good your house is, the foundation is going to destroy everything. Your stances are the same for karate. No matter how good you are, if you don’t have good karate stances, you will fall.
We will take our time to look at some karate stances and how we can improve ourselves. Before anything, let’s take some time to understand why everybody needs to do it. What is the goal behind improving your karate stances? The truth is the goal is indirectly to increase your striking power. Having a good stance will give you a better stability and your balance is crucial for your striking power.
The reason can be explained by physics laws, more specifically by the third law of Newton: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means when you strike, there is also an equal force that is created on you. Think about that simple fact. If you push something heavier than you in a natural position (two feet apart), you will lose your balance easily. However, if you take a half-moon position (on leg in front of you bent and one leg behind you), you will probably move back without losing balance. This is a great improvement, but you can do better. If you ground your feet, you will have a much greater chance to move the object successfully. Your feet push toward the ground and this redirect the opposite force inside the ground. Latter in this article, I will talk about an incredible method to ground your karate stances.
There is an interesting analogy between the bamboo and your karate stances. Do you know that the bamboo takes four years to build his roots and almost didn’t grow? The most impressive is after four years, he starts to grow by two feet a day! That is a good example of working the basic first.
If you want a solid stance like the bamboo, you need to develop your leg muscles. Have you ever done that before? You need to work out your stabilizing muscles in your legs. Maybe you’re already strong with them, but you need to be strong with the four muscles inside the quadriceps.
This is one of the main reasons why karate teachers often ask for long position. Short karate stances are for experts only. You will gain more control and stability in the long run by practicing with long stances. However, you should be award this is for educational purpose.
For the five exercises, we will have three exercises to develop your muscle, one exercise to improve your half moon position and one to develop your back stance. We will start with three exercises starting in the half moon position.
1. Muscle your front leg in half moon position
Put yourself in a half moon position. Without moving your front knee, bring your back leg next to your front foot and return to the original position. Make sure you don’t put weight on your back leg before you’re returned to the original position. Do this exercise for 1 minute for both legs. If it is too easy or too hard, adjust your speed but never stop.
2. Muscle your back leg in half moon position
In this exercise, you’ll need to start again in the half moon position and make sure you don’t move your front knee. For the first 30 seconds, lower your back knee near the ground without touching it and return to the original position. Do as much repetition as possible and after the 30 seconds, stop your knee near the ground and don’t move for 30 seconds. Don’t forget to do both legs.
3. Practice your moving forward in half-moon position
The final exercise for the half moon position is simply practicing your stepping forward (doing the “half moon” with your back leg”). This may be simplest, but no matter what your rank is, you still need to practice the basic. If you’re enough advances, you can practice moving backward, on the left and on the right. Focus on how you move your weight while you’re moving.
4. Muscle your back leg in back stance
In back stance, your back leg is the one with the more weight and it is crucial to have power in this one. To gain more power, put yourself in back stance. In slow motion, lower your back leg as much as you can without moving the heel, jump with it and return to the original position. Do as much repetition as possible for 1 minute for each leg.
5. Practice your back stance shuffle
The back stance shuffle is the more important move inside Kenpo and no matter the level you are, you should practice it a lot. Go in a hall or somewhere you have enough space and practice a lot of small shuffle. When you’re at the wall, practice your backward shuffle. Also make sure you never lean forward or backward when you’re moving.
If those exercises are too easy, you can do them with 20 pounds weight on your hands. That way, it will be more challenging. Make sure you never forget to force the knee of your supporting leg outside to have good karate stances.
With those karate stances, you will practice your ability to ground yourself. To develop that specific skill, you also need to use your imagination. Imagine the tibia of the bent leg is a metal bar. See that bar inside your leg and it’s longer than your leg. In fact, you can see inside your head the bar going through the floor. This bar cannot move and because of it, your knee cannot move either. With practice, your ability to ground yourself is going to be multiplied by ten.
The challenging part here is not the complexity of the exercises. You need to realize no matter the level you are, you always need to work on your karate stances. If you stop improving, you will slowly lose what you already gained.
If you start doing it right now and once a day or two, I can promise you will have better karate stances after only two weeks. Can you do it?