Karate Stances

Karate stances have differences when compared to other martial art such as kendo, judo, aikijutsu, etc.  These other martial arts tend to place emphasis on how to use the upper body for completing actions such as bumping, throwing, swinging the sword, etc. They do not focus on which stances must be taken to swing the sword or to throw the opponent in the most effective way, instead placing emphasis on upper body execution with the lower body following accordingly.

These martial arts simply perform the upper body technique and let the lower body follow its movement without losing balance (center of gravity), transferring energy from the feet, through the lower body, to the upper body.  It is not important which stance is taken, instead what is important is how those stances will fit together with their upper body techniques.

Contrary to this way of moving most of karate emphasizes executing a proper stance first then performing the upper body technique. With this emphasis on first executing a proper stance, the karate practitioner neglects to focus on how to transfer energy from the lower body.  This emphasis on stances makes it difficult to coordinate the upper and lower body movements. This results in the individual being in a static karate stance with the upper body movement performed separately without a connection to the lower body.

Another effect of taking the karate stance first is difficulty in performing techniques with upper body power since the lower body is static.  To compensate, muscle strength is then used to make up for this lost power.  The consequence is strenuous and stiff movement rather than using the body like a fulcrum connecting the upper and lower body. 

How can we practice this way to get a more natural, smooth whip-like motion in the punches and blocks?  In order to do perform movements with a more whip-like motion, first one must relax the muscles, then throw punch or blocks from the feet, using gravity and your body weight.  If you use too much muscle strength/power rather than body power, the “whip” will move stiffly and not smoothly.  It will not be flexible and cannot send your energy smoothly through the execution of the technique.

Basic Kihon Posture | HEIKODACHI | parallel stance

Keep your back straight with your scapula taut, drop your chest, and think of pushing the sky up with the top of your head. Drop your center of gravity just  about 6” in front of your navel toward the ground; the knees must be flexed and never locked; hips and below the knees are taut and stable. Keep yourself relaxed but never slouch. Always feel proud and alert, but never impertinent nor sneaky. There are many kinds of warriors; we strive to be the warrior who is sincere.

-Akio Minakami

-to be continued