Monday, 7 December 2015

Take a stance

My journey from Shotokan to Wado taught me a lot about stance. It took me away from long and low Zenkutsu Dachi, to the more natural Jun Zuki Dachi front stance, and from the planted Kokutsu Dachi back stance, to a raised heel version more akin to the Neko Ashi I had learned in the AKA (although wado also has Neko Ashi of course). Most notably the knee trembling Kiba Dachi horse stance – which many Shotokan proponents will recall from hours of hellish sitting stance reverse punches, was replaced with the altogether more civilised Shiko Dachi (sumo stance).

Ah, then blackbeltsuze, welcome home! Taekwondo stances are much more like Shotokan than wado. They are long, low and notably much wider than a karate stance. Gunnun Sogi or walking stance, with the hips facing forward is a “shoulder width” stance in theory – but where the measure is taken from outside the shoulder, making in wider than any karate stance I am used to. It feels stable, but impractical. Much like the Shotokan stances, I can see the benefit for helping to tone and condition the legs though. The back stance, Nuinja Sogi is a traditional L stance with weight distribution 50:50, rather than the 70:30 a karateka may be used to. The sitting stance, Annun Sogi, is basically Kiba Dachi….dammit. There are many more stances in both arts of course, but these are the most common I have come across in the coloured belt syllabus.

These stances make sense in taekwondo, where the emphasis on the sine wave (down up down) motion means one rise and falls with the technique. A wide and low stance lends itself to the crashing and pushing blows that are part of the taekwondo toolbox. Muscle memory will help me get low and long but I will struggle with the width of the stance, it is unnaturally wide, being wider than my natural walking stance and having to bring the leg in as well as up to kick feels slow and clumsy to me. Having said that, I have a new found respect for  taekwondo which readers of my earlier blog might find surprising…

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