Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Warrior Fitness -- Posture, 3

Bill Henry once told me that when he first started training in martial arts, a fellow-beginner talked about using the horse stance in a fight. (You can imagine the horse stance if you think of a man straddling a large horse with high stirrups -- now take away the horse.) Bill told him, "I don't think that stance is meant to be actually used in fights."

As you've already guessed, the inevitable happened. The student got into a fight and assumed the horse stance, which left his groin wide open. His opponent took the free shot and kicked him there. Lesson learned -- painfully.

The horse stance builds strong leg muscles, but it also puts stress on the knee joints. If you want to build your leg muscles, do half squats. If you want a stable base for self defense, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. One foot may be slightly forward.

This is how both Western and Eastern boxers stand. Moreover, they don't practice stances, they practice footwork. In order to achieve agility with your feet, however, you need balance and mobility. Strange as it may seem, these don't come primarily from the feet and legs. They originate higher up.

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