The famous Japanese swordsman Musash, who survived over 60 actual life and death duels and then wrote his classic text on strategy, The Book of Five Rings, wrote:
"Make your fighting stance your everyday stance; make your everyday stance your fighting stance."
Stability and movement are essential in the practice Taekwondo. For any block or attack to be effective, the body must be stable so maximum force may be transferred to the opponent. While maintaining its stability, the body must also be able to move quickly.
Stance primarily refers to the lower portion of the body. A strong stable base is needed to perform powerful, fast, accurate, and smoothly executed techniques. The upper part of the body is balanced on this firm base, with the back straight and perpendicular to the ground. This relatively stationary stability is called static stability. However, it is only necessary to assume this position just before delivering an attack. If one concentrates too much on remaining in a firm and stable position, he or she will be stiff and unable to move quickly. During movement, the body must maintain stability, this is called dynamic stability.
All martial art styles use stances. Low stances are very stable and powerful. High, upright stances are less stable but allow for quick movement. For example: wrestlers use a low, crouched stance, most karate stylists use a low, upright stance, most Chinese stylists use a low, long stance, Aikido uses mostly upright stances, and Taekwondo, while considered an upright styles, uses low stances.
Stances form the foundation of all Taekwondo movements and techniques since they maintain stability while permitting quick movement. When the body is stable, tension in legs and feet is transferred to the body’s center of balance to furnish a firm foundation for any technique while still permitting rapid body movement in all directions. Without a firm foundation, movements will be unstable and techniques will lack speed and power.
Stances involve the concepts of body position, range, focus, and breathing. This topic discusses body positioning as related to stances. Range, focus, and breathing are discussed in other topics. Stances also express the user’s state of mind, spirit, purpose, and determination—they reflect the user’s intention to do battle.
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