Karate Stances



As much as the posture, the stance is an integral part of any technique you perform.

Therefore, a strong technique from a weak stance is a contradiction in terms. The different

stances used are the outcome of two considerations – one for strength, the other for agility. The

actual ratio of these factors varies with different stances.

Heisoku-dachi (Attention Karate Stances).

evenly balanced on both feet. The knees should be not quite straight.

Just stand naturally with the feet together and the weight

Hachiji-dachi (open leg Karate Stance).

width apart. This and the preceding stance are simply natural stances from which you can move

with maximum smoothness into stances appropriate to actual karate techniques.

As for the above but with the feet about a shoulders’

Zenkutsu-dachi (forward Karate Stance).

both in attacking to the front and in blocking attacks coming from the front.

Step with one foot about two shoulders’ widths forward and about thirty degrees

diagonally to the side. Keep the back leg straight. Bend the front leg, forcing the knee outward

directly over the big toe. Both feet should be flat, the front foot pointing slightly inward. In this

stance the front leg takes sixty per cent of the body weight.

This stance is very strong toward the front and is useful

Kokutsu-dachi (back stance).

having used it in stepping back and blocking or avoiding an attack, a mere shift of body weight

into the forward stance enables you to close with the opponent and counter-attack immediately.

Also, as most of the body weight is taken on the back foot, the front foot is free for kicking.

Again, the legs are about two shoulders’ widths apart. A line extended to the rear from

the front foot should touch the heel of the back foot, and this later should be at a right angle with

the line. The rear leg takes seventy per cent of the body weight, and should be deeply bent and

forced outwards. The front leg should not be quite straight, otherwise a stamping kick to the knee

would easily break it.


A very useful characteristic of this stance is that, after

Kiba-dachi (straddle/stance).


As in the two previous Karate Stances the feet should be two shoulders’ widths apart. The feet

themselves should be turned a little inwards, the knees forced outwards, so that the legs are rather

like bows under tension. This involves a screwing tendency of the feet into the floor which is

essential for the stability of the stance. It is equally important that the knees should be bent

deeply, thus keeping the centre of gravity low. The weight of the body is carried evenly on both

legs, all the muscles of which (along with those of the pelvis) should be tightened.

This is a strong stance when attacking or defending to the

Sanchin-dachi (diagonal straddle stance).

front – for attacking or defending.

As in the straddle stance, the knees must be tensed outwards. This is, in fact, just the

straight straddle stance with one of the legs twisted forward, the front knee over the big toe and

the rear knee a little in front of the big toe. The body weight is again carried evenly on both legs.

A stance equally strong to the sides and to the

Neko-ashi-dachi (cat stance).

so it can easily be used for kicking. Another great advantage of this stance is that from it you

can easily and quickly move into any other stance – whether to the front, back, or to one side.

The back should be absolutely straight. Keep the rear foot flat and raise the heel of the

front foot, the knee pointing a little inwards. The rear knee should be well bent.

Here the front leg carries hardly any of the body weight and