Basic stances

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of stances and balance. Precision and depth in stances is valued, though less formality is demanded than at higher levels. Fluidity between movements is generally more important at this stage.

SHOULDER STANCE
Stand tall with you heels directly beneath your shoulders. Turn your toes inwards so that you are slightly pigeon toed, with your knees bent. This is designed to protect the groin.
Pull your shoulders back, with your arms straight. Clench your fists and point your knuckles downwards, the back of your fist facing directly outwards and your thumb touching your pants.
Breathe strongly and deeply. This is a powerful stance, though can be used as a semi-relaxed position due to its greater comfort over the Attention Stance.
* Fists pointing towards ground * Heels shoulder width * Slightly pigeon-toed * Knees bent * Stand tall

ATTENTION STANCE
Bring your left foot towards the right so that the heels are touching, and a right angle is made between the feet. As the heels touch, the knees should be slightly bent. Hands are in the knifehand position (fingers pointed, together and thumb tucked in). Place your right hand in your left hand and the palms facing upwards, with arms almost straight and making approximately 45° beneath horizontal.
Hand position Fingers cross so that the thumbs do not overlap (for myself, this means that the middle knuckle of my index fingers are on top of each other).
Take a deep breath in as you raise your hands together by bending your elbows at right angles and pushing your elbows forward until your finger tips are just below eye level. At this point, your lungs should be filled with air.
At the top, pivot your hands at the palms and keep them together as you exhale. Breathe out forcefully, pushing your hands to 15-20cm away from your groin. Hold this position for an instant, then place your hands at your side, with your hands and fingers straight. Your middle finger should run along the middle of your upper leg. Keep your arms straight, head tall, shoulders back and maintain a sharp focus beyond a point on the wall directly ahead at head level.

FEET TOGETHER
From attention stance, put your weight onto your heels and bring the toes together.
This stance generally follows Attention Stance, for bowing.
When bowing, simply bend from your waist, keeping your head tall, and looking forward.

PREPARE
From attention stance, with your hands tense and straight at your sides, bring your hands to your front. This position is the same as where your hands were before being placed to your side when getting into attention stance.
It is from this position that all kata begin. You should keep your head tall and your focus laser-sharp.

FIGHTER’S STANCE
Shoulder width, shoulder deep. Heel of the back foot off the ground, with hips (and back foot) aligned towards the front. This enables maximum flexibility and mobility for techniques from either leg.
The hand position is high, with the forward hand being extended to slightly more than a right angle, along a line between your eyes and the mouth of your opponent. The back arm is bent to slightly less than a right angle and kept back, with the palm as high as the cheekbone.
Both hands are in fists initially and aligned perpendicular to the opponent. The shoulders should be kept as high as possible to provide extra head protection.
Variations on the fighters stance are many and varied: increased distance to an opponent tends to promote a longer guard; decreased distance (eg punching range) promotes a closer guard. Open hand postures are also possible, though this increases the possibility of damage to fingers.

DOUBLE SHOULDER-WIDTH STANCE
Stand with your feet together. Move your legs apart until you can bend your knees and stand with your lower leg vertical and your upper leg approximately horizontal. Check that your feet are angled out at 45°. Keep your back straight, head tall, and your knees directly above your ankles.
In training, you may be asked to stand in this position for a few seconds or a few minutes.
This can develop excellent leg strength.

PRACTISING STANCES
Practising moving through your traditional stances is a powerful way to develop your stability, and work on your leg strength. Simply move slowly, around two seconds per stance, between each position, for several minutes.