Our standard initial stances are depicted in the diagram below. While our martial arts students study various additional stances as they progress through the early ranks in our system, the stances depicted below are the initial stances everyone who studies the art will learn.
In Japanese, stances in general are referred to as Tachi. An individual stance is referred to as Dachi. So the collection of stances below would be referred to as Tachi, while an individual stance in the group would be referred to as Dachi.
In the diagram you will see a depiction of each fundamental stance. The footprints indicate the general alignment of the feet when performing the stance. Areas of the foot shaded in blue indicate where little or no weight is supported by the foot. An area in red indicates a location where significant or unusually heavy weight is supported by the foot. Areas where the foot is black signify normal weight distribution on the foot.
The initial stances that all students study to achieve the Yellow Belt Ranking are:
- Heisoku Dachi
- Hachiji Dachi
- Musubi Dachi
- Heiko Dachi
- Seiza (seated posture)
- Zenkutsu Dachi (Hard Bow Stance)
- Neko Ashi Dachi (Cat Stance)
- Shiko Dachi (Square Stance)
- Kiba Dachi (Horse Stance or Horse Rider’s Stance)
- Kokutsu Dachi (Back Stance)
- Sochin Dachi (The Tensoku Ryu Standard Stance)
- Sanchin Dachi (Hourglass Stance)
- Ura Neko Ashi Dachi (Reverse Cat Stance)
- Ronoji Dachi (“L” Stance)
- Teiji Dachi (“T” Stance)
- Soft Bow Stance
- Ippon Dachi (Single Leg Stance)
- Juji Dachi (Cross Leg Stance)
- Iaigoshi Dachi (Kneeling Stance)
- Seisan Dachi (Universal Stance or Fighting Stance)
You will notice in the above depictions that the torso remains quite erect in each stance. Students will want to notice if they lean in any particular direction and work to correct their posture. It is important that a stance can be performed with near perfect posture because this will be when you are the most structurally sound. This does not mean that is how the stance should always be performed, but if the student can adopt a nearly ideal posture then he or she should be able to perform the stance in any reasonable position or alignment. They will also understand how best to adopt a stance when they wish to be as immovable as possible (within the inherent limits of that specific stance).
We expect beginning students to be able to establish and hold a sound stance. This is primarily to ensure the student knows how to do the stance properly. Once this level of initial training is accomplished we suggest to students that stances are never held in that manner. Stances should be thought of as transitory. One really never holds a stance in a conflict. They are always used in a temporary manner. A stance is adopted to accomplish some specific purpose. Once that purpose has been achieved the stance is no longer relevant (and may in fact represent a major disadvantage) and some other stance and purpose should be employed. This level of thinking is somewhat more advanced and students first learning a stance are only required to be able to establish and maintain the stance. But as a student progresses he or she is taught that establishing and holding a stance is usually detrimental. The better approach is to utilize a stance to achieve an objective, then move on to some other activity.
The above diagram is from our Yellow Belt Student Manual in which each stance is defined in specific and substantial detail. More advanced stances are defined in the relevant student manual for the rank at which the stance is studied.