Stance Training


http://www.hungkuen.net/training-stancetraining.htm

Hung Gar is known for its strong, stable stances and puts much emphasis on stance training. Needles to say that stance training is considered to be an extremely important part of Hung Gar and their importance cannot be stressed enough. They are the foundations of all techniques and movements, as well as being one of the most important key elements to the successful progression and advancement in the art. Contrary to what some modern martial artist may think, stance training is a must and the proper training and development of stances is crucial to any Hung Gar practitioner.

In the past, Hung Gar students were encouraged and devoted much of their time to the training of stances. Traditionally it was a common practice for the beginning students to spend anything from six months to one year of solid stance work alone before they were allowed to learn anything else. Day after day the student was required to assume a low horse stance – sei ping ma and hold this position for extensively long periods of time. This time period was usually ranging anything from the burning of one- incense stick to three-incense sticks, which in total is about 3 hours. In the modern times of today, this kind of training is rarely done or seen anymore. There are variety of reasons why most modern martial artist don’t bother with such gruelling training anymore most of which usually comes down to change of times, way of living, personal attitudes and needs. In some peoples case pure laziness and lack of patience. The fact of the matter is, despite its extreme importance, most martial artist of today don’t even spend 10 minutes a day training in gung fu, let alone 3 hours of stance work every day. Unfortunately majority of today’s students are looking for quick results, always anxious to learn new techniques and move to the next stage without proper understanding or mastery of what they were taught in the previous stage. In other words they try and run before they can walk. Traditional training methods such as these are no longer appreciated nor seem useful and worst of all the enormous benefits offered by this type of training are often over looked or totally ignored.

What is all the fuss about? one may ask and wonder why should one has to devote so much time and effort to training of stances? There are many reasons, but to sum it up the main purposes behind stance training are: strengthening and conditioning of the legs, training the mind and the spirit, rooting, internal energy training and last but not least to improve posture-structure, all of which support each other and connect to each other in a complimentary fashion.

Strengthening and conditioning of the legs is one of the most obvious benefits of stance training. Correct stance work will train and condition the whole, not just a specific part or area. It will build and strengthen the muscles, joints, bones and tendons of the legs as well as other related parts of the body. Regular and proper training will enormously increase the power, strength and endurance of the legs. It will also improve the speed and flexibility. The practitioner will be armed with extremely powerful legs, which can be used to attack or defend.

Mental conditioning, the training of the mind and the spirit is also an important part of stance training. Tempering and controlling the mind is one of the hardest parts of gung fu training. A gung fu practitioner must have a calm, focused mind and a strong spirit. Long durations of stance training can be extremely boring and very painful. This being the case, most people, especially beginners’ cant sit in a low horse stance for a very long time, even if they have strong legs. Hung Gar practitioners need total concentration, patience, willpower and determination to be able to hold a low horse stance for an extensively long period of time. As mentioned above, in the past Hung Gar practitioners were required to do six months to one year of solid stance work alone before they were allowed to learn anything else. One of the main reasons behind this type of training was to test a students mental, moral and physical strengths and weakness. Those who couldn’t cope would soon drop out and quit.

Developing a solid root is an extremely important goal of all gung fu practitioners and one of the main reasons behind stance training. Stability and balance are the first things that come to mind when talking about rooting. Although this is true, rooting in gung fu involves much more than just having a stable stance or good balance. Beside other things rooting involves correct body structure, relaxed body, sinking of energy etc. Some people also have the false idea that having a solid root is being too static and stiff. One must be rooted at all times regardless of stance or position. It is said that when standing be like a mountain, strong and unmovable, when moving be like the wind, swift and fast. Despite its importance most beginners and even those who has been training for many years experience much difficulty in achieving a solid root, mainly due to lack of understanding and not enough practice. They are easily pushed over and have neither stability nor balance even when they perform the simplest techniques. They lack strength and speed in their techniques and cannot generate power using the whole body.

Stance training focuses a great deal on internal energy or chi – qi cultivation that is also one of the most overlooked factors when talking about stance training.

http://www.hungkuen.net/training-basicstances.htm

Stances are, without a doubt an important part of Hung Gar training. Hung Gar training includes number of different stances which are common to most gung fu styles. The following is a brief description of the stances found in Hung Gar style, important points to bare in mind and most common mistakes one can make. Please note that this is only an introduction. There is much more to these stances than the descriptions given below.
Sei Ping Ma / Four Level Horse Stance

Sei Ping Ma / Four Level Horse StanceSei Ping Ma also known as Ma Bo (Horse Stance-step) is so called because it resembles a person riding a horse. This is one of the most faundamental and important stances in Hung Gar and can be found in almost every style of Chinese martial arts. This is a strong, stable stance, which provides a strong foundation. Sei ping Ma like all the other stances must be practiced regularly to improve your balance, strength, speed as well as many other important factors including the mental and internal aspects of the art. When practicing horse stance there are important points to follow.

Important Points
• Body weight even on both legs 50/50
• Sink down not forward
• Toes pointing forward
• Knees turned out
• Back straight, buttocks tucked in
• Body relaxed and weight sunk down
Common Mistakes
• Toes pointing out
• Knees too inward or too outward
• Feet too near or too far apart from each other
• Back not straight, buttocks sticking out
• Body too tensed
• Body leaning forward or backward
Ji-Ng Ma /
Ji-Ng MaThis stance commonly known as bow and arrow stance is another common stance which can be found in many other martial arts. Ji-Ng Ma is a strong, firm stance where the weight is usually distributed 60/40. With this stance knee of the front leg is bent and the back leg should be straight.
The waist is fully turned facing forward, the knee and the feet of the leg forward is turned in. Ideally thigh of the front leg should be parallel to the floor.
Important Points
• Waist turned, body square
• Back leg straight- feet flat on the floor
• Knee of the front leg turned inward
• Feet(toes) turned inward
• Back straight and shoulders relaxed
Common Mistakes
• Front Feet pointing forward
• Back leg not straight
• Stance too far apart or too close
• Back heel off the floor
• Front Knee not bend enough
Dui Ma / Hanging Horse – Cat Stance
Dui Ma / Hanging Horse - Cat StanceThis is a flexible stance where most of the body weight is placed on the rear leg. The rear leg is bent at the knee and the weight is sunk straight down, the front leg is also bent at the knee and only toes of the front feet touching the floor. Ideally thighs should be parallel to the floor. Initially begin with a higher stance and and through gradual progression lower the stance. Ensure the backside is tucked in making sure the spine is straight.
Important Points
Back straight, body facing forward
• Weight sunk down
• Most of the weight is place on rear leg
• Front leg bent, toes touching the floor
Common Mistakes
• Weight placed on front leg
• Front Toes not pointing down
• Rear leg is not bent enough
• Front leg straight and locked
Gam Gai Duk Laap Ma – The golden chicken stands in one leg
Gam Gai Duk Laap Ma - The golden chicken stands in one leg Gam gai duk laap ma ( The golden chicken stands in one leg ) is most commonly referred as crane stance. This common one-legged stance is done by having one foot solidly planted on to the ground while the other leg is lifted of the floor by bending the leg at the knee and raising the knee higher than the waist. The foot of this leg should be turned inward.
This stance requires a strong foundation and balance. Make sure the straight leg is not locked.
Important Points
• Knee is raised high
• Back straight
• Weight sunk down the leg into the floor
Common Mistakes
• Knee not raised enough
• Supporting leg locked
• Body leaning backwards
Kei-Lun Bo — Quai Ma / Unicorn Step — Cross stance
Kei-Lun Bo -- Quai Ma / Unicorn Step --- Cross stance This stance is formed by taking a step forward and crossing one leg infront of the other by creating a 90 degree angel while turning the waist and squatting down.
When in this stance the front foot is flat on the floor while the heel of the back foot is raised of the floor leaving the ball of this foot touching the ground.
Important Points
• Back straight
• Waist turned, both knees bent
• Sink the weight, squat down
Common Mistakes
• Leaning forward or backward
• Knees not bent enough
• Heal of the rear foot touching floor
Nau Ma – Twisting Horse
Nau MaThis stance is exactly the same as Kei-Lun Bo(Quai Ma), the only difference is this stance is performed on the spot by turning/twisting the waist instead of taking a step.This stance requires a lot of waist action and is a very flexible and mobile stance. It can be used both for offense or defense.
Important Points
• Back straight
• Waist turned, both knees bent
• Sink the weight, squat down
Common Mistakes
• Leaning forward or backward
• Knees not bent enough
• Heal of the rear foot touching floor
Tau Ma- Stealing Horse
Ta maTa ma is similar to Nau Ma and Quai Ma in the sense of appearance, however the usage is slightly different. Tau ma is generally known as retreating step where the front foot is placed behind the rear leg
Important Points
• Back straight
• Waist turned, both knees bent
• Sink the weight, squat down
Common Mistakes
• Leaning forward or backward
• Knees not bent enough
• Heal of the rear foot touching floor
Lok Quei Ma / Kneeling Horse
Lok Quei Ma / Kneeling HorseThis stance is is a strong and stable stance, where one can rise and drop quickly to attack or defend the lower parts of the body etc.Lok Quei Ma is formed by keeping one foot flat on the floor while bending the same leg at the knee and squatting down, while the other leg is bent at the knee which is lowered down near to the ground and brought close to the heel of the foot which is flat on the floor.
Important Points
• Back straight
• Waist turned, both knees bent
• Sink the weight, squat down
Common Mistakes
• Leaning forward or backward
• Knees not bent enough
• Heal of the rear foot touching floor
Reverse Bow Arrow
This stance is the reserve of Ji-ng-ma. The stance is formed in the same way where the legs, feet , knees are positioned the same and back straight as always. With this stance body is slightly more lower to the ground.
Important Points
• Back straight
• Waist turned, both knees bent
• Sink the weight, squat down
Common Mistakes
• Leaning forward or backward
• Knees not bent enough
• Heal of the rear foot touching floor
Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma / Character “two” goat capturing stance
Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma is a strong, stable stance. It is formed by having the feet about shoulder with apart, tucking the pelvis in, turning the toes and knees inwards in a shape of triangle and sinking the weight down. Due to its shape, some people reffer to this stance as triangle stance.
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