Most of the fundamental stances were covered in detail in the previous belt curriculum. The stances introduced in this belt are generally variations or alternate approaches to stances you have previously learned. In many cases these newly introduced stances are adaptations from martial art systems that evolved outside of Japan. Some of these stances will be easy and some will be very difficult. Practice each to the best of our ability and do not worry if you are unable to establish the perfect textbook version of a particular stance. All good things come with time and it may take some time to be proficient at some of the more demanding stances. You will utilize many of these stances later in your training. They are introduced now so that you have time to develop these stances before they are used in practical skills.
We would like to make an a couple of important points about stances and stance work. There is a great deal of emphasis within the martial arts on the proper foot positions, angles, weight distribution, and torso alignments when adopting the various stances. We think this is all critical information every student should study and appreciate because it suggest when and how the stance might be best employed. This is in reality extremely important information.
But in reality it is only one part of the equation. There are two other equally important aspects of stance work that need to be appreciated.
The first is that stance transitions must be considered to be at least as important and stance posture. You must be able to quickly transition seamlessly from one stance to another. You will find that some stances can be readily adopted from another stance with relative ease. At other times it may be nearly impossible to move from one stance to another – at least in any way that might be consider an efficient or graceful manner.
You should therefore begin to consider stance transitions as an important part of your stance work. It is not longer sufficient to know how to perform a stance. You must know that of course, but you will also now want to understand how best to move into a stance from some other stance and to then subsequently move into a future stance, all while maintaining good balance, vision, centering, and guard positioning.
Which brings us to our final point. You will see innumerable pictures of stances in their ideal form. This may lead you to the mistaken conclusion that stances are held in these positions. This is seldom if ever the case. You must begin to regard stances as transitory. You may be in a stance for mere milliseconds before you transition into another stance.
A stance is adopted to enable you to perform a specific task or function. Once the intended task has been performed the stance is no longer relevant. In fact it has now become a detriment because your opponent will seek to take advantage of that stance’s weaknesses. You must instead immediately define a new purpose and adopt a stance that will help you accomplish that goal. Once that goal is completed that stance must be abandoned in favor of some future function.
So in this sense stances are continually evolving. In any form of conflict you will not be in any posture for more than a fraction of a second. That would leave you vulnerable and susceptible to a potential attack. Instead you move fluidly in and out of various stances utilizing the knowledge you formed while studying stance transitions. So you must therefore come to appreciate stance integrity, stance transitions, and the transitory nature of stances. All three are of vital importance.