In days gone by to prove loyalty, dedication and commitment, new students to a Kung Fu club would have spent the first 6 months or so of training just practising low horse stance each lesson.
As well as developing physical strength and flexibility throughout the whole body, it was as much of a test of mental fortitude as well as a test from the instructor to see if the student had the correct attitude towards their training.
A modern day instructor obviously has to accept that it is impractical to expect students to train one stance for 6 months – unless they only want one or two students – but on the flip side, students should expect early progress to be slow and steady, focussing on basics plenty of stance training.
A White Crane practitioner should always have a strong rooted stance. This improves the power of kicks and punches as well as mobility when moving around, into or away from an opponent.
When performing traditional forms, whether Tai Chi or Kung fu, having a strong rooted stance ensures the forms look far more stable and powerful.
The number one training stance is the low horse stance, you should adopt a nice wide stance – approx double shoulder width – feet pointing out 45 degrees. Squat down so that your thighs are parallel with the ground, keep the back straight and hold the arms straight out.
…. and hold that stance!
You are now really working your leg strength, flexibility and stability as well as building up internal energy (chi). Keeping your back straight allows your back to stretch out, the glutes are also worked, strengthening what is the largest muscle in the body (gluteus maximus).
Perhaps most importantly you are working your mental strength, something you’ll need in bucket loads as a martial artist (and in life!), so hang in there when all you want to do is stand up!
A good aim for new students is to hold the stance for 5 minutes.
It is not necessary to put 5 minutes to one side each day and challenge yourself. I am a firm believer in frequent exercise ‘breaks’. When you have a few seconds, or a minute or two spare get into a low horse stance, the minutes will soon build up each day, then test yourself every week to see how you are doing.
A great idea is to get into low horse stance when you are doing everyday things, cleaning your teeth or flicking through TV channels have never been such great opportunities for exercise…. use your imagination All the training adds up!
You’ll be well rewarded with strong, flexible legs, increased internal and external power and energy, mental strength and keep the training going and you’ll never need a seat on public transport again!