Aug 9

Stances and Body Unity Key at Summer Seminar 2013

A theme I’ve picked up on in the martial arts over the last several years is that, despite the differences between styles and systems, many martial arts leverage similar principles. In other words, the movements may look different, but when you really boil them down, they’re using mostly the same ideas.

The two principles that have stuck out the most to me today are the importance of stances and body unity.

Douglas Grose Memorial Seminar - 8/9/13

Stances Aren’t Just for Kata

Perhaps this stuck out to me because I’m planning on writing a more detailed blog on stances in the near future. But I couldn’t help but notice how today’s instructors were leveraging stances.

It should be noted the stances weren’t the classical, deep karate stances. They were modified so that they were higher up, but throughout many of the techniques that we practices today, we needed to use mainly front stances and horse stances.

For instance, I was struggling with a technique when another instructor familiar with the move came over to help my partner and me out. I noticed in this particular arm bar that he was in a horse stance – he had sunk his body weight by widening his legs, and his back was straight. If he’d leaned forward, he would’ve been completely off balance. Because his back was straight, though, he was able to apply the technique. “There’s your kiba dachi,” I told him. He said, “That’s exactly right.”

If beginner students wonder why they practice many of the basic karate stances over and over again, it’s because you’ll use them as your skill set increases.

Body Unity Is Everywhere

No matter what you do in karate or any martial art, you should do it with your entire body.

In other words, we don’t use just the arms when we punch. We use the full body by getting our hip into the technique, and we use our mind to give that punch “intent.” We’re imagining breaking through a break wall, penetrating the spine, or whatever it takes for you to get a stronger technique.

An example from today would be a move Shihan Terry Wilson referred to as “drawing the bow,” and other instructors would also interchangeably call the “bow and arrow.” Old Yang style tai chi chuan has this move in it, so it was great to see some practical applications for it.

Anyway, if an had a two-arm grab on you, you would pull one arm down while pushing up the on the other. When done properly, this weakens the group. Then, you would pivot into essentially a front stance (read above) and step forward, and the person will fall.

These movements utilize the entire body. It’s not a matter of strength (though strength should never be discounted). It’s a matter of knowing where your position is solid and his or her position is weakened.

Thanks to Shihan Terry Wilson, Col. James Gifford, Sifu Steve Aldus and Hanshi John Chatwood for their informative sessions throughout today, as well as Ms. Vera Harrison for hosting the event. She’s very appreciative of her martial arts family, and I appreciate her friendship and gratitude toward me over the years.

And thank you to Mr. Aldus, Mrs. Aldus, Hilton, Chaz, Derek, Phyllis, Matt, and anybody else who was my partner today. We help each other get better.

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Adam Bockler

Sensei Adam Bockler is a 2nd-degree black belt in karate and the owner of Metamora Martial Arts. He's been in the martial arts since 2003, and has received instruction in tai chi chuan, Hsing-i chuan, judo, tae kwon do and XMA. Sensei Bockler was inducted into the 2014 USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Karate Black Belt of the Year. He is the communications manager for Float Mobile Learning.

  1. Pingback: Steve Aldus Demonstrates Tai Chi Chuan at Peoria Martial Arts Seminar | Metamora Martial Arts

    [...] A few weeks ago, I did an (almost live) blog from a seminar hosted by Ms. Vera Harrison in Peoria. [...]

  2. Kevin. Chatwood 19 Apr 2014 | reply

    Hi Sensei Bockler, this years guest Instructor @ the Douglas Grose Memorial Martial Arts Seminar & Tournament is Hanshi Matt Molineux the Head Instructor of Shinmei Shorin Ryu. I saw you had. James Gifford listed and thought you might liketo know. Thanks, Kevin

    • Adam Bockler 21 Apr 2014 | reply

      Thank you, Mr. Chatwood. I’ll be sure to make a note for the 2014 event!

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