Stances are probably the most important aspect to any style of martial art. Stances are known as the base of all techniques. Without them, techniques would look sloppy, structure of a form is lost, and a form would look weak. Aside from looks, performing techniques would be easier with a sturdy stance. For example: when you see someone doing squats in the gym, they have a base that is not too wide or not too narrow. The better the stance, the less likely the weightlifter will get injured. Here are some examples of basic stances in martial arts:
1.) Probably the first stance you learn, the ready stance! You stand with your shoulder facing forward, feet shoulder width apart, and your hands fall in front of you like your doing a double punch down. Based off of looks, you wouldn’t think this is a stance but technically speaking, a stance has a purpose whether to generate power or motion or to simply show respect. In most martial art styles, this is the how you start off before a form, bowing into class, or just starting off in any event in a tournament.
Excuse my face..but this was before a tournament event.
2.) The front stance, or forward stance! This stance varies in length depending on the style. For example, in traditional karate or Tae-Kwon-Do, the stance is more narrow and your shoulders face forward. To perform this stance, separate your feet to about shoulder width, then go forward as though you’re doing a lunge but keep the back leg straight. In the photo below, I’m performing the Wu Shu front stance. The long front stance in Wu Shu is really nice for performance but not so much in combat. This stance is really good for generating power for techniques motioning forward.
(Top Left): Long Wu Shu front stance. (Top Right): My friend lunging forward into his block. (Bottom Left): These two guys pushing against each other. A perfect example of forward stances and generating power in a forward motion. (Bottom Right): Me pushing forward with a palm strike
3.) Horse Stance! This is probably the most popular and tiring stance. To do a horse stance, separate your legs about twice the length of your shoulders (of course length may vary), then sink into your stance like you’re about to sit down on an invisible chair. I’m pretty sure the majority, if not all, styles have an exercise where you have to sit in horse stance while punching, blocking, or etc. This stance is not really incorporated into any combat situations, it is more of an exercise for strengthening the legs and back.
Most styles of martial arts will start of teaching a beginning martial artist with these stances. Most of the fancier stances will come to a person later on in a person’s training process.