Why are the stances so low?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by kandi, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    I've been doing karate for 18 months and really like it. It's making me stronger and fitter. I'm getting more and more interested in the history of karate, and have started watching some old training videos / looking at photos etc.

    What strikes me (pardon the pun) is that most of their stances seem a LOT higher than the stances we train in. Shiko dachi and kiba dachi we are supposed to perform with the thighs parallel to the ground (or as low as we can get!). I find this really difficult on my inner thighs and knees. I find a strong tension that I can't stretch through when I'm trying to get lower and am constantly being told to "get down". I get that it makes your legs stronger, but so do squats and lunges.

    So I guess my question is, why do we train kihon and kata in such low stances if it isn't used in kumite so low, and the masters didn't seem to train that low either? Given this is how we train, how can I get lower over time?
  2. schnueffler

    schnueffler New Member

    I saw it in different styles of Karate, that some styles use deeper stnces then others.
  3. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    Doesn't it have something to do with rooting?
  4. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I was under the impression it was for throws/sweeps.
  5. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    Hmm thanks. We don't do any throws, and sweeps are introduced at brown belt when the students have more control, but even then rarely used.

    I guess it might be one of those things I just have to take for granted.
  6. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  7. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    We learn them on the first day in Muay Thai. Mind you, we have loads of mats so it's safer to fall.
  8. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Sorry I missed the bit about how to get legs stronger.

    1) make sure when you practise your hips are low, its easy to cheat and spread your legs wider, but that doesnt help.
    2) learn to do hip dominant leg exercises, low body weight squats, sideways squats and lunges are great.
    3) if your legs are too weak, try gym machine leg exercises, hamstring curl and knee extension exercises will help a lot.
    4) once you feel comfortable weighted squats help a lot, you'll need someone to show you proper form
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  9. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    The movements are stylised for aesthetic reasons.
  10. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    Thanks, some of the videos in that thread are really interesting. I'm not sure the participants in that thread came to a unified conclusion though.

    It's not a problem, martial arts will continue to evolve and I don't think there is a single right way to teach it, or to practice it. At the end of the day I come under the teaching of my Sensei and he's great.

    Very cool!
  11. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    That's awesome. I want to keep training karate until I've reached a level of semi-maturity in the art (~5 years) and then add some kind of grappling art.

    Judo and BJJ are both tempting. Not sure I want to be quite as full contact as MT, but I recognise it as probably one of the most effective MA's.
  12. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    As a Karateka you'd probably take to judo quicker. The foot sweeps are a lot like the ones in Karate.
  13. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    Could be lots of reasons. In your school, specifically, who knows? Would have to ask your instructor about it. In general? The reasons which I would rate as most useful (always a subjective value judgement, AND something that depends on actually moving in a way consistent with it, of course) would be that if you can move easily and comfortably with a low center of mass, moving while in a more normal posture will be a piece of cake, that being able to easily and comfortably change the height of your center of mass gives you more versatility with regards to what you can do in several situations (throwing/sweeping/tripping, for example, and avoiding having such done to you), and general mobility and endurance (strength maybe, somewhat, if you don't do any strength training already, although it's worth noting that strength is very specific, and that applies to the directions and joint angles in which it's exerted, so there won't necessarily be full transfer from squats and such to, say, a low Shotokan kiba-dachi, and vice versa, although there will likely be SOME carryover at some point).

    Also, stylistic reasons, ie "it will be our trademark method to do low stances!", possibly with a handful of justifications, in light of which it's also always worth keeping in mind that the "traditional" reasons for many things don't always mesh well with what is currently known in the specialized areas pertaining to those reasons (ie modern/20th-21st century sports and strength training science obviously wasn't around in 18th-19th century Okinawa, and it'll most likely only be a minority of all instructors who will have sought out up-to-date information on the area and modified the training accordingly, rather than simply transmitting more or less as they themselves were taught plus a personal touch here and there, as is the usual custom.
  14. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    Thanks fish - really helpful reply!
  15. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    If you can

    - stay low, you can stay high.
    - kick high, you can kick low.
    - lift heavy, you can lift light.
    - run, you can walk.
    - move fast, you can move slow.
    - do flying side kick, you can do side kick.
    - ...

    The other way around may not be true.
  16. Dan93

    Dan93 Valued Member

    I think YKW hit on this. I was always taught it was done as a training aid to strengthen the legs. Even during my days in Shotokan which was notorious for low stances higher grades would use higher stances.

    No one is going to practically strike and move effectively in stances that low in reality IMO.
  17. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Honestly I think that when pragmatic success criteria (can you fight) are replaced with artificial success criteria(how you look) then that opens the door to stylistic evolution that favours exaggeration.
    Steps become hops become jumps become "who can jump the highest?".
    Kicks start low, go mid, then high and then "who can kick the highest?".
    Stances start as a short hand for body weight transfer and then become fixed positions that get lower and lower.
    Simple techniques get more complex and flowery.

    All of those things favour the long term student over the beginner (because they generally need to be worked at to be able to do them) so they are ripe for enforcing the hierarchy of a martial arts style.

    If the criteria is "can you fight" then there's the very real possibility you will get hard scrappers coming in and beating the higher grades and that's a bitter pill to swallow.
  18. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Many applications require stepping in with your hips lower than those of your opponent. Many applications can be neutralized by drooping your own hips lower than those of your opponent. For me personally, the principle benefit of all Low stances work, both in forms and static, is to help to train the muscle memory and co-ordintion for dropping into and moving in a low stance.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
  19. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    Thanks everyone. All really helpful replies.
  20. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Smitfire said what I wish I had.

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