This group of postures requires that your torso be brought down closer to the floor. This may be done by bending the knees significantly, or by simply coming to rest on the floor in some manner. You will encounter these positions again much later in your training, but for now, practice entering and exiting these stances with relative ease.
These stances can be challenging for many students. They are commonly practiced in Chinese martial arts systems and are included here with the Chinese names for the stances. You will find these stances are used extensively later in your training and we suggest you spend the time necessary to learn to perform these postures well.
You might think of Xie Bu (commonly called the Resting Stance or the Twist Stance) as an exaggerated Juji Dachi. You can adopt this stance from Sochin Dachi by bringing the back leg forward so that it crosses outside and then to the front of the other leg. Leave your center focused at local Octagon angle 1 as you settle your hips and erect torso directly downward, evenly distributing your weight between both legs. Settle down until what is now the back knee is slightly above the floor. Another variation in this stance might see you maintaining a somewhat elevated position. This stance is most commonly seen in Chinese martial art systems.
When performing Xie Bu you will want to keep your front foot flat on the floor. Due to the way the stance is initiated you should have your front leg crossing over your back knee such that the bottom of your front thigh is in contact with the top of your back thigh. Since your weight will be distributed forward and predominantly supported by your front foot the heel of your back foot will rise. You then support weight with your back leg using the ball of the back foot. When settling into this stance your front foot will normally point outward slightly while the back foot generally points directly toward local angle 1.
The purpose of the stance is to present the appearance that you are resting when in fact you are not. You might best think of this stance as a crouching position from which you expect to spring at any moment.
This is a difficult stance for many people to establish. The stance can be quite challenging for those who are not particularly limber or who have inherent stability issues. It can present balance problems and may initially feel like a contortionist invented it solely to laugh at struggling martial artists who attempt it. Thin people typically can perform this stance more readily than heavier people, but anyone can have difficulty with the stance and everyone can eventually perform the stance well with practice.
If you are having difficulty then take things one step at a time. You do not need to establish the ideal low stance initially. Attempting to establish the stance in its ideal form when you are experiencing difficulty can be very frustrating. Instead, work on the initial movements. Do not even try to sink low until you have the initial leg placements down. Only when you feel comfortable with the twisting leg motions should you begin to lower your elevation level. Do this slowly as well to build up leg strength and work on any balance issues. Slow and steady progress is all you need. Your instructor will work with you to help you overcome any difficulties.
The first word in Xie Bu is commonly difficult for English speakers. A rough attempt at an English pronunciation might be “seeya”, but with a hissing ‘s’ and a very soft ‘y’. We will revisit this stance much later in your training. In the interim, you might elect to use an English equivalent pronunciation of “Chiya Bu” for the name of this stance. Try to get closer to the earlier pronunciation example if you can, but “Chiya Bu” will suffice for now.
Zuo Pan Bu
The names Xie Bu and Zuo Pan Bu are often used interchangeably. Two different Kung Fu schools may use the two names to mean the same posture. You will often see videos on the Internet that seem to suggest these are two different names for the same posture. We think of these two quite similar postures as being different from one another.
In Xie Bu, we think of the posture as being upright and fully supported by the legs. It is not a resting stance at all. In Zuo Pan Bu posture we are sitting. Zuo Pan Bu means “sitting on crossed legs.” So to transition from Xie Bu to Zuo Pan Bu we either sit back until we rest our rear on the back leg, or we settle further down so we are resting on the back hip and thigh.
So when does Xie Bu become Zuo Pan Bu? When both legs are no longer holding your torso aloft. If the muscle tension in one or both legs is relaxed then you are likely in Zuo Pan Bu.
In most Wushu or Kung Fu descriptions, you will see these two terms used in the way that we define Xie Bu. That is simply the cultural method by which a particular school or system defines the stance. If I were to speculate I might think there could be some regional differences between the use of these terms, but I do not know that for sure.
We maintain separate definitions for these stances to differentiate between when your body remains fully animated and when some portion of your anatomy is at rest. You will later find that in the Chinese martial arts you are seldom at rest.
The word “Zuo” can represent another pronunciation challenge for English speakers. You might think of it in terms of Japanese pronunciation (I do not intend to offend anyone) where Zuo might sound something akin to “tsua” in Japanese. Pan is pronounced much like the English word pan (as in pots and pans). So together Zuo Pan Bu might sound something like “Tsua Pan Bu” coming from a native English speaker. Your mileage may vary.
Pu Bu is often called the Drop Stance or Flat Stance. It is another stance frequently seen in Chinese martial art styles. It is in many ways similar to a Kokutsu Dachi. For explanation purposes, assume that your left leg is your front leg. Step back with your right leg toward angle 6 to allow your center to focus toward angle 1. The front leg remains straight as you settle your hips backward by bending your back leg. Both feet must remain flat on the floor at all times. You will likely need to press your upper body forward while sweeping your arms outward (or backward) to maintain balance. When first learning and practicing this stance it is helpful to place your hands on the floor in front of you to help you control your balance. This will lessen the chance that you fall or induce a stretching injury. This is often a very difficult stance to do well and you will not be required to perform it in its deepest and strongest position at this ranking level. Like everything, your ability to do the stance will improve markedly with steadfast practice.
When you have settled into the stance (again assuming the left foot is forward) then your front foot points toward angle 7 and the rear foot points back in the vicinity of angle 6. Depending on the depth of your stance you might find that both feet point toward angle 4. You will also likely have a pronounced forward lean while in this stance.
When learning this stance do not compromise the structure of the stance to allow yourself to settle lower. The depth of the stance is not critical initially. The form is more important. Keep the front leg straight and pull your hips backward. By maintaining proper structure you will hasten the stretching required to eventually enable lower stances. Go slowly, there is no rush. Improve your stretch, balance, and leg strength over time. If you have difficulty then practice the stance often, each day seeking a slight improvement. You will get there before you know it.
The stance can be used to attack at the opponent’s Gedan level, pull someone downward, or avoid a high strike or jumping kick from the opponent. Naturally, you will want to be able to get out of the stance as quickly as you might get into it.
You may also see the Pu Bu referenced by the name Fu Hu Bu. In this context, the stance is often thought of as the Tame the Tiger Stance.
Pronunciation of Pu Bu in English might sound something like “Poo Boo.” The ‘u’ in both words is pronounced as a soft rather than hard ‘u’ sound.