As a white belt, you will be regularly practicing five basic stances (dachi)
- Ready stance (Heiko dachi).
- Short Fighting Stance (Han Zenkutsu dachi).
- Long Forward Stance (Zenkutsu dachi).
- Horse Riding Stance (Kiba dachi).
- Sumo Stance (Shiko dachi).
These stances will be your focus through to 7th Kyu Orange belt, where you are then introduced to more advanced stances. It is worth noting though that these 5 basic stances will used throughout your karate life.
From a fitness perspective, the practise of either holding a stance or moving quickly in and out of stances develops both muscular endurance and strength in all the muscles of the legs and our body’s core.
From a striking perspective, a sound stance adds enormous power and reach to any strike – two essential qualities when facing a larger opponent in a self-defence situation.
From a defensive perspective, a sound stance will add balance, stability and strength (to prevent being wrestled to the ground by a larger opponent) along with the ability move quickly or evade in all directions.
Gichen Funakoshi, the man regarded as the father of modern karate wrote, ‘Formal stances are for beginners, later, one stands naturally’. His words were not implying that advanced students forget or neglect stances. Rather he implied that beginners should focus on creating and maintaining deep formal stances. Despite the fact that some of these may feel unnatural or painful in the leg muscles, over time they would grow to feel natural and instinctive. Considering the PCSR (Psycho Chemical Stress Response) associated with real-life confrontations switches our ‘Primal Brain’ into gear, instinctive behaviour is essential if one is to be successful if they ever need to use their self-defence skills.