In my last column, I spoke about fitness requirements. In this article, I wanted to focus on one of the technical basics of Kung Fu – Stances!
Here at the WKFA you will likely hear many instructors say that stances are the foundation of what we do. It is not just something we say so our student focus on them more, but it is so true that during nearly every warmup we have the students go through the “stance sequence”. We build on these depending on rank and age.
Initially there’s the 3-stance sequence: Horse/Forward/Cat Stance. Then students progress to the 4-stance sequence: Horse/Bow/Cross/Female Stance. Finally we add an additional 4 stances to the 4-stance sequence to become the 8-stance sequence: Cat/Crane/Dragon/Triangle-Horse Stance
Stances are truly fundamental to everything we do, but many youth and junior students struggle with these basics even after training for several years averaging of 2 classes per week. Maybe it’s because we do them so often that they feel that they’re not “new” or “cool” or maybe it’s because we do them so frequently the students end up going through the motions and not realizing how they will help them progress.
We need good stances in our forms, our techniques, our sparring and even our self-defense. Without good stances, a student isn’t able to move effectively and efficiently, can be off balanced and, quite honestly, will just not be able to progress to more advanced (and interesting) parts of our curriculum.
Like fitness, stances are something that your child can practice at home even with little time or space. I thought I’d use this article to review the 4-stance sequence and things you can look for to help your child ensure they are executing those stances well.
Horse Stance: Feet should be about double shoulder width apart and pointed forward; knees pressed outward and aligned directly above ankles; tops of thighs should be close to parallel to the floor; hands in closed fists, chambered just above the hip bone.
Bow Stance: Feet no more than 1-2 fist widths apart; hips squared to the direction the student is facing; back leg completely locked out (straight); front leg bent so that the knee is over the ankle; both feet should be on the same 45° angle.
Cross Stance: Hips square to the direction you’re facing; front foot planted and flat on the ground; on the ball of the back foot; back knee tucked behind the front knee; stance should be wider than it is long.
Female Stance: Front leg bent, foot parallel to direction you’re facing; most weight is on front foot; hips and shoulders square to front; should be on the ball of back foot; thighs should be squeezed together.
*Remember, if your child isn’t able to perform their basic fitness requirements as discussed in my last post, stances are going to be more difficult for them, so please don’t neglect the physical fitness in pursuit of good stances*
Also read Part 1 of this article.