Friday, November 02, 2007

Confusing stances

Looking at karate techniques/stances, there are many times that the same terminology can be said for different stances especially with Martial Arts coming from the same country.

Let's look at Sanchin dachi:

In Shotokan, this stance does exist, but I have found that it was rarely included in training. It looks like this:

(Picture is from

The weight is 50/50. Notice that the back foot is pointing straight. The feet are close together. I have found that Fudo dachi (Rooted stance) is usually the preferred training stance for Shotokan.

In Fudo dachi, you are positioning your feet similar to a side stance ( kiba dachi)done at 45 degrees, however you turn your hips to face front. The feet are at the same distance as if you were doing a front stance.

There is another alternative stance that may be mistaken for Sanchin dachi. It's called Hangetsu dachi.

This stance is used very frequently in Shotokan training, and even has it's own kata. Notice how similar it looks to Sanchin. It's like a stretched out "giraffe" of a Sanchin dachi.. isn't it? The weight distribution on this one is similar to a front stance 70/30 but it uses the same inner tension of a Sanchin stance.

In Kyokushin, we use the Sanchin stance constantly in training especially for doing basics. It looks like this:

Again the weight is 50/50, but notice how the back foot is turned more inwards almost pointing towards the navel.

The Kyokushin Fudo dachi looks totally different:

I'm sure that Shotokanists would look at this stance and say "Wait a minute!!! That's just a Natural stance, or ready stance." All that I can respond is "If you ask a Kyokushin karate ka to stand in Fudo dachi.. this is what they will do." We stand in Fudo dachi quite frequently during our training in Kyokushin.

It is confusing to try to discuss karate movements, and bunkai with people from other arts, and dojo because of this terminology wall. I may think that I'm describing things clearly, but since the other person has a different understanding of what the stance/technique is supposed to do, or look like the message might get warped through the translation. I believe that the best thing is to get to know what your Instructor wants from you, and how he/she wants it delivered. The internet is a great resource for ideas, and inspiration, but the center line is that it can create more confusion than clarification.


Sarah said...

And then in Shorin-ryu fudo dachi (Chokuritsu fudo dachi, but I've only heard it called fudo)) is your formal attention stance - you know, feet at 45, all the bowing stuff! THAT was confusing too.
But I think I an even more confused. My mind is... whirling. I'm sitting here thinking to myself "what was this stance called?... that one?" I have so many different terms running through my head right now... it's so confusing. I just... I don't even want to think Japanese right now. I think I'm confusing kiba and fudo and I am SO lost. Jeeze. But thank you. you did help clear up some things - and make me realize how lost I really am.

[Mat] said...

Fudo dachi:

Unbreakable(unshakable) position.

From that translation, one can think of anything. Think of sanchin dachi. It could very well be called fudo-dachi. terminology is only a name, in the end.

Another instance of these variations between styles is the SHO and DAI variations in kata. While they are generally used in the same way, some older okinawa based styles inverse them.

I wonder what the local kyokushin style thinks of this?

I must admit being a little reluctant to talking to those guys, they produced their own "worlk headquaters" based close to where I live. Validity?

I could provide a link to that group, if you're interested.

Be well,

supergroup7 said...

I guess the best thing would be to realize how lost we are so that we can start looking for the path we hope to start walking on.

Kyokushin world headquarters close to where you live? Can be. There are many International Kyokushin Organizations now... affectionately called IKO1, IKO2, IKO3, IKO4, IKO5, IKO6.. I'm not sure if there is a 7, and 8, out there. When the founder of Kyokushin Karate, Sosai Masutatsu Oyama died in April 1994 many upheavals happened.

Colin Wee said...

I thought you might like that link.

supergroup7 said...

My GOSH Colin!!!! How do you find these things?!!!

That posting is such a similar experience as to what I went through. It took him 10 years to my 5 years, but we both ended up in the same conclusion.

Is this person a friend of yours?

[Mat] said...

Inspiring read, to say the least.

Colin Wee said...

No. I'm just doing my stuff and looking for forums or blogs that might help my introspection. Colin

The Martial Artist said...

Sanchin dachi looks not dissimilar to Gimase, a variation of horse stance found in the Korean arts of Gicheon and Haedong Gumdo. I had always thought Gimase to be unique among the martial arts. I am pleased that I was mistaken. Please feel free to visit my blog, The Martial Artist for more of my own martial arts introspection, and thanks for an interesting read.

supergroup7 said...


Welcome to my weblog, the martial artist.. great to have your comment. I'll be sure to come and visit your weblog.