Get Ready, Set, and... Stand!

Kung Fu Stance
Shutterstock/ Luceluce
There are thousands of martial arts techniques. Students learn everything from blocks, kicks, and punches, to weapons, katas, and more. However, just as the maxim states, that one must walk before they run, the first and most important technique is to stand.

Standing in Martial Arts

Stance training is part of most martial arts, and it is taught with the understanding that a good stance (horse, fighting stance, San Ti Shi, etc.) is the best way to build a strong foundation. Driving off the earth for power, keeping legs bent to create a stable base, and the knowledge that kicks are half of a student's martial arts, of the striking variety, are all reasons to forge strong legs through standing.

In my martial arts journey, classes often started with a few minutes of calisthenics and then a period of holding a variety of static standing forms for what felt like an eternity. While holding the stances, their solidity was tested by pushes from the Sifu at a variety of angles, as he probed for weakness. “Breathe, relax, stand,” he would say. The class would be eerily quiet, except for the labored breathing of the students, as we tried to squint through the pain, breathe through the fatigue, and will our shaky legs to hold on for just a few more seconds. The sore, rubbery limbs would eventually become a sturdy base on which to build all the technique and skill that came later. However, the practice of standing is not limited to external martial arts though.

Internal Martial Arts and Qigong

Quite possibly the single most identifiable standing form, aside from the horse stance, is the Qigong form of standing and embracing a sphere: body straight, legs bent, and arms held as if holding an invisible ball. Many readers are likely familiar with it. The form is taught for health, meditation, and martial arts.

When students first see the form, it is usually followed by: “That looks easy.” As with most things that “look easy” students quickly realize that it is demanding, even after a short time of just a few minutes, and that looks can be deceiving.

There are a variety of standing forms taught in internal martial arts and Qigong, and some are more rigorous than others, (such as those requiring standing on one leg) but all have a benefit whether specifically for health or martial arts. Whether seeking more martial power, health, or inner peace, standing quietly for a few minutes a day can be very beneficial.

Another Use for Standing Still

While stillness has many advantages, as described above, standing is also a great way to learn new material such as forms and techniques. Holding each step of a new form, kata, or technique for a few seconds will help cement the material into the body and mind.

Whether building a better body, calm mind or pumping up your energy, sometimes the best thing you can do is just stand there.

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