Doing the Horse Stance the Right Way
I originally was told
that the horse stance is for learning how to fight
while you’re on the back of a horse.
Then I was told it was for fighting side to side
while standing in rice paddies.
My own idea was that it was
for fighting on the sides of space ships.
There’s no gravity,
and you hook your feet under handles
so you can fight without flying off into space.
All ideas were probably a part of the truth,
which brings us to the real truth,
or at least as much as I can surmise
in the infancy of my ancient years.
Here’s part of a letter I wrote to a fellow
who asked me about the horse Stance.
Well, we differ here. The full data is somewhere in the Master Instructor Course, but, if you have a fellow stand with the feet shoulder width apart, feet out 45 degrees, and push across his shoulders, he will fall over. If you have him turn his feet straight, or even better, slightly in (hourglass stance), then he won’t fall over.
This gets very interesting, as you can have him feet out, feet in, again and again, and watch the results, and he loses confidence in the feet out stance and gets worse, and the feet in stance gets better. But he goes through some head gyrations trying to figure this all out.
Now, in a horse stance, because you are pushing down on the fellow he may not fall over, even if he has his feet pointing 45 degrees out, but he definitely doesn’t have as much root.
And, if a fellow is experienced, he may be able to drive his ground through a foot out stance and get away with it. But he is having to work way too hard to do it. Proper grounding requires no effort, no energy, you just drop the weight, align the body, and sink your thoughts.
Interestingly, I once heard a high level Gojo practitioner explain the foot out stance. Goju has those 45 degree foot out horse stances, you know.
He said the purpose was to make the small of the back softer. I have no idea what he meant. And, for that matter, there are a lot of things that Goju, and other arts, do that defies physics.
It often sounds like they are making up reasons without having any clue at all.
Anyway, speaking of physics, how I came up with this idea of foot in and foot out body testing came from when I was a kid. I used to examine medical pictures of the foot, and I examined my own foot, and I tried to understand how the thing worked.
Why was there an arch (spring), how should you run (walk)…with the feet straight so that foot could react in an anatomically correct manner. So you could best use the spring.
And this morphed into the reverse of spring, into proper grounding.
So it was an examination of the the foot, with physics and medicine (anatomy) in mind.
As opposed to softening the back for whatever reason.
Now, that all said, choose for yourself. Maybe there is something I don’t understand. I just try to present my viewpoint, and realize that I don’t know everything, that people have to come to their own conclusions.
And that is my official reasoning…
viewpoint of the horse stance.
But the real truth,
aside from what I say,
or what anybody thinks,
happens when you do the horse stance
for a few years.
Do the Tekki forms.
Funakoshi is supposed to have spent ten years doing them,
and he highly recommended such practice.
I know in the Kang Duk Won
we practiced something called
which meant ‘Horse Meditation.’
We would sit in the horse stance,
one hand in a high block and the other hand extended to the sides
with the fingers hooked around in a beak to the rear.
We would stare at the beak
and try to forget the pain,
focus on our breathing,
and just stay there.
Here’s a clip of the horse form.
And if you’re interested in more
of that sort of training,
Check out Temple Karate
Guaranteed good stuff.
Have yourself a great work out!