Orange Belt High-Level Stances

These are stances in which you will be standing erect or nearly erect during the time you hold the stance. Some of these stances require very little effort or skill, while others can be quite demanding. Of course, we start with perhaps the most demanding stance first.

Hangetsu Dachi

Hangetsu Dachi is very similar to Sanchin Dachi with the exception that Hangetsu Dachi has the feet a bit more separated (front to back). In Hangetsu Dachi there is roughly one foot-length distance between the heel of the front foot and the toes of the back foot, though this should not be considered an exact measurement. The stance maintains the twisting and tension aspects of Sanchin Dachi and is, therefore, a very stable stance.

Hangetsu Dachi is often called the Half Moon Stance and is sometimes referred to as the Inward Tension Stance.

While practicing this stance have a training partner try to move you in various directions. Have them press you toward every angle of the Octagon to see where the benefits and weaknesses of this stance can be found. Also, have your training partner try to pull you forward and at times downward in the direction of each Octagon angle to better appreciate where this stance is beneficial.

You might then elect to compare and contrast Hangetsu Dachi and Sanchin Dachi to understand where one stance may be more applicable than the other.

We should also note that Hangetsu Dachi is used extensively in the Hangetsu Kata practiced by Shotokan Karate and several other styles. Portions of the Kata are done slowly to stress the importance of Hangetsu Dachi in developing more effective breathing and energy generation.

Seisan Dachi

Seisan Dachi involves placing the front foot directly forward such that the heel of the front foot is aligned along the octagon 3-4 axis with the toes of the back leg. Your center is directed toward angle 1 and the knees are slightly flexed. Both feet point directly toward angle 1.

This stance is commonly called the Universal Stance because it embodies a natural forward movement. The stance might also be referred to as a front heel-toe stance or perhaps a walking stance (not necessarily a contradiction of terms as you will come to appreciate over time).

In some martial arts styles, the back knee is pushed back making the back leg rigidly straight. This would be generally equivalent to our Han Zenkutsu Dachi. So again this suggests that there are cultural differences between various martial arts styles regarding the naming and structure of various similar stances.

Musubi Dachi Heiko

There is very little difference between this stance and Heiko Dachi. The only real difference is that the stance is initiated from Musubi Dachi. From Musubi Dachi simply shift your weight to the balls of your feet and then push the heels outward until the outer edges of the feet are parallel.

So rather than this being a specific stance, this specifies a form of stance transition. It defines a transition from Musubi Dachi to Heiko Dachi.  Similarly one might specify Heisoku Dachi Musubi or Heiko Dachi Hachiji or even Hachiji Dachi Heiko. These are less commonly used references, but you get the idea.

If you watch Internet videos of people performing Kata you may want to pay attention to their preparatory footwork. You will often see the following sequence as practitioners perform their opening salutation:

  • Heisoku Dachi
  • Heisoku Dachi Musubi
  • Musubi Dachi Heiko
  • Heiko Dachi Hachiji

This is by no means universal. The most common transition is Heisoku Dachi Heiko. The second most common is probably Musubi Dachi Heiko. But you will over time notice a significant number of practitioners performing the above sequence.

Close T-Stance

The Close T-Stance is a modified version of Teiji Dachi in which the instep of the back leg is in very close proximity to (or touching) the heel of the front leg. This stance is often utilized when working with a weapon.

Qi Xing Bu

This simple stance is initiated from Sochin Dachi by turning the front foot to face directly forward as the toes are raised and the heel is placed directly onto the floor. The torso then rises upward slightly and draws backward to pull the front foot inward. Your weight is predominantly on the back leg and your hips and shoulders are positioned over this leg. The back leg remains slightly bent. The heels of both feet should form a straight line leading in the direction of local angle 1.

This stance (with Chinese origins) is often referred to as the Seven Star Stance or Tai Chi Heel Stance, but you will also often see it referred to as Strumming (or Playing) the Lute. The latter name refers to a specific sequence of movements in Taichichuan (Tai Chi) in which Qi Xing Bu is prominently featured. So Strumming the Lute refers to a movement in Taichichuan and not to the specific stance.

A rough English equivalent pronunciation of Qi Xing Bu would be something like “Chi Shing Bu.”

Parallel Cat Stance

This stance is similar to Neko Ashi Dachi except that the front foot is moved back and to the side so that it is beside and parallel to the foot of the weight-bearing (pedestal) leg. We will refer to the foot that bears little or no weight as the “cat-foot.” The cat-foot should be positioned so it is in vertical alignment with the hip joint on the same side. Both feet are pointed toward local angle 1 and the toes of both feet are aligned along the local Octagon 3-4 axis. Like Neko Ashi Dachi, the ball of the cat-foot will rest on the floor and nearly all of the weight is placed over the pedestal leg.

Crane Stance

The Crane Stance is similar to the Ippon Dachi, except the thigh of the raised leg comes parallel to the floor and the front foot touches the inside of the thigh on the pedestal leg just above the knee. The toes of the raised leg point directly downward. The pedestal leg is bent slightly to aid with balance and to provide fluidity of movement.

While this is a simple variant of Ippon Dachi we point it out because you will see many references to the stance in martial arts literature and videos. We would consider this to be one of many possible raised leg variants one might adopt with Ippon Dachi.

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