Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Drop Stance

Here's another isometric stance for strengthening our legs! Plus, this really stretches the muscles of the inner thighs.

The Drop Stance: Method

  • Start with your feet 2 shoulder widths apart.
  • The feet can be slightly outwards.
  • Squat a little, as you would do for the horse stance.
  • Now drop, not suddenly mind, but drop your torso to one side by bending your knee of one leg and keep the other leg straight.
  • Keep both feet flat on the floor and lean forward towards the straight leg.
  • The more flexibility you have, the more the stance looks flat (hence the name).


Check out a good page on Major Wushu Stances for more info.

As usual, leave a comment or contact me with any questions through urbantri@mail.com. Thanks.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Basic Kung Fu Stances

Update to the Martial Arts Page
I've just finished an update of  the urbantricks' martial arts page.

Short videos to the 5 basic kung fu stances have been added:

  1. Resting Stance
  2. Horse Stance
  3. Bow Stance
  4. Flat Stance aka Drop Stance
  5. Empty Stance

As usual, leave a comment or contact me through urbantri@mail.com with any questions and I'll contact you as soon as I can.


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Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Bow Stance

The Bow Stance (gong bu), is useful for attack and defence. It's also great for developing muscle strength and endurance as 70% of your weight falls on your front leg. Your quadriceps definitely will feel it if you've never done it before.

In Combat

Personally, I do it just for strengthening my legs, but you can practice punching with it as it was designed, or use it for other attacks.

Sifu Wong Kiew Kit provides a series of videos and lessons on how to oppose a boxer's stance with the bow stance at http://www.shaolin.org/video-clips-3/shaolin/boxing-02/barcelona11.html. He looks so in control of what's going on over the boxer too.

Sifu again uses several stances including the horse stance to counter a boxer's jab in http://www.shaolin.org/video-clips-3/shaolin/boxing-01/barcelona02.html.

Method to doing the Bow Stance

  • Start with feet together.
  • Step out on one foot to create a distance between the front and back foot. The longer the gap between feet, the lower the bow stance will be, and it's up to you how low or high you want your stance.
  • Turn the back foot outwards at about 45 degrees.
  • Make sure your back leg isn't locked. It should be slightly bent otherwise I find it may cause discomfort later on.
  • Now bend your right leg so that the knee is aligned over the heel of the front foot, not beyond it.
  • Make sure your torso is facing forwards but your neither leaning over or backwards.
  • It may feel like you need to twist the torso a little bit to face forward. 

Low Vs High Bow Stances

Artistically speaking, the lower stances tend to look more aesthetically pleasing, but they are also great for developing strength in the legs. That is not to say, that Tai Chi type bow stances which are high aren't also good for developing leg muscles. The tai chi bow stance is a lot gentler on the muscles but very effective nonetheless.

As usual, leave a comment or contact me through urbantri@mail.com with any questions.

Thanks for reading.

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Other Websites to Help With Stance Training

Stances in Tai Chi- comprehensive list of stances
Physical Principles of Ch'uan-shu - as to not injure yourself doing the bow stance

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Resting Stance

Taking A Rest With The Resting Stance

If you've gotten to grips with kung fu stances before, you will have heard of the physically challenging resting stance. I wouldn't myself consider it as a form of rest, but hey. What ya gonna do? It's seen many times in wushu competitions and is considered a basic stance just like the horse stance. You may also know it as the Cross Legged Stance.

Method To Doing The Resting Stance

  • Start with feet shoulder width apart.
  • We want to cross our left leg behind our right so that we have crossed legs, also shoulder with apart.
  • The left foot should also be behind your right, not in line with it.
  • Turn your right feet outwards at about a 45 degree angle.
  • Squat down whilst keeping your right foot flat and the left foot on its toes.
  • The left leg should fold neatly underneath your right leg.

PS. Rising out of the resting stance is a lot of fun! Ahem.
And also, if I get something wrong, as I'm only an avid student, please tell me at urbantri@mail.com. Thanks.

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References - Resting Stance

Wushu Sanshou Association – Resting Stance

American Wu Shu Society – Resting Stance

8 Stances – American Chinese Martial Arts Federation

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Horse Stance

Here's another bodyweight exercise. So simple looking. So painful!

Definition: Horse stance

“The horse stance is an important posture in Asian martial arts and takes its name from the position assumed when riding a horse. It is called mǎbù (馬步) in Chinese, kiba-dachi (騎馬立ち?) in Japanese, kuda-kuda in Malay, and juchum nogi or annun nogi (lit. sitting stance) in Korean.” - wikipedia.com

horse stance Pictures, Images and Photos
complements of shas12 photobucket

How Can The Horse Stance Make You Stronger?

The horse stance is a fundamental stance in Chinese martial arts, but if you don't do kung fu, and if you have no intentions of doing a Chinese martial art, why bother with the horse stance at all? Here's why:

  • The horse stance makes your legs stronger: Isometric exercises produce faster gains in strength than traditional moving exercises like squats or lunges (14-40% strength gains in fact) (3). However, they aren't functional for movements in sports, and should be used purely to build strength, as you still have to convert strength into power or endurance etc.
  • Prevents injuries for runners: Muscles involved are the adductors (inner thighs), abductors, sartorious, vastus lasteralis, rectus femoris (quadriceps). Unlike in weight lifting moves like squats which focus on over developing quadriceps, you will develop the inner thighs which will help prevent injuries usually gained through running, walking, tennis, golf and dancing (5).
  • Increases endurance noticeably: We may be able to do 100 squats or more, but may struggle initially to do even 30 seconds of a wide and deep horse stance. You produce lactic acid quicker through isometric exercises, and therefore increase the threshold of lactic acid build up, so you can endure longer and tolerate pain more easily after isometric training (apparently, this is great for cyclists trying to increase their endurance) (8).
  • Doing the side splits: Starting with the horse stance, by eventually widening the stance, we can do the side splits.

What is the horse stance not used for?

Depending on who you talk to, or what martial art you follow, the style and use of the horse stance differs. While many experts agree that it is the most fundamental stance, it isn't the only stance, and the deep variations are not considered beneficial in combat. The more shallow versions, like those of Tai Chi are more natural to use in fighting. However, whether we're 'lovers or fighter,' the horse stance is great for building leg strength without the use of equipment or weights.

How to do the horse stance?

Literally, the idea is to appear as if you're upon a horse. Place your feet parallel to one another, twice your shoulder length apart, then squat down whilst keeping your torso upright. If you want to be more precise with the distance between your feet, try the 5 step horse stance. You can do more steps if you wish, like 7 step horse stance (http://www.stadion.com/stretching_splits.html). After 7 steps, you're pretty much working towards the side splits.


Sumo stance vs Horse stance

In the sumo stance, your feet point outwards at about 45 degrees. This changes the muscles worked.

(1) http://www.googobits.com/articles/p0-1391-building-strength-without-moving-a-muscle.html
Building Strength, Without Moving a Muscle by Scott Nesbitt

(2) http://www.whitedragonmartialarts.com/blog/kung-fu-kickboxing-mma/horse-stance-training
Horse stance Training, Inside Kung Fu January 2004 by Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong

(3) http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/kelly4.htm
Isometrics By Kelly Baggett

(4) http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100319194654AAE9a3E
E Honda (answering) Horse stance or wall sits?

(5) http://fitness4.fitdv.com/new/articles/article.php?artid=725
Strengthening Your Hip Adductors

(7) http://revelsports.com/Articles/RRNEWS/Strengthening%20Your%20Adductors%20for%20Running.htm
ISSUE # 30 NOVEMBER 27, 2004, Owen Anderson

(8) http://dailyburn.com/forums/fitness_and_exercise/topics/muscle_endurance_via_isometrics
Muscle Endurance Via Isometrics

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

5k Fun Run

The Beginning of an Era - The Running Bug

Run, Forrest! Run!

Have you watched the movie, Forrest Gump? Remember when he couldn't walk without the leg braces? Then one day the braces flew off as he ran, and ran. Quoting the fictional Forrest Gump, "I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours."

Have you ever felt the desire to just run? Well, for me, that desire didn't come until I just started, and now, I just want to get up and run, run for the bus, run to catch the train, run for the sake of it. So I did the 5k Fun Run.


Training was sporadic, even half hearted, yet, stood at the starting gates on a wet Saturday morning, I naively stared at the little I could see of Richmond Park. I was surrounded by proper runners; kitted out in sleeveless breathable shirts and running shorts, those typically ugly-looking but feet saving running shoes, some with gadgets on their wrists and others with headbands on. A sharp contrast was me, in a pair of full length jogging bottoms, inappropriate trainers that I play football in and a t-shirt with 'Jamaica No.23' on it brought back by my family from their holiday. Everyone seemed at the lower end of the BMI (body mass index) scale, apart from a few, like myself, trying to lose weight. The 10k runners were looming in the background waiting for us to get started so they could get going.

Nothing Fun About It

So off we all went, together, though the huddle never lasted long for me as I was already straddling behind by 500m. At 1km, a long hill approached, and I knew I was in for a hard slog. I spent the rest of the 4km intermittently jogging and walking as my legs were tripping over themselves. I may have started too fast, but the truth was, my training was poor. Two weeks prior, my training dropped off completely. Months prior I focused on building strength and three weeks prior, I turned to losing weight (to increase relative strength), but ignored T Bompa's advice to convert strength gains into appropriate endurance. I had enough endurance to run 1km. That was no problem, but 5km and at speed was almost an impossibility.

Bitten by the Running Bug

I completed it! Just don't ask how. Moreover, I wanted to do that again. Not immediately of course.

I want to get the training right. I have to beat my incredibly lousy time of 44 minutes and 19 seconds. My grandpa walks faster than that. So I have to appeal to those who haven't done it to try it and get bitten by the running bug. It's the beginning of an era for me. I never could jog for even a minute without either getting bored or tired.

5Km is short enough that it won't kill you if you haven't trained properly, but long enough for you to feel like you have actually achieved something when you do complete it. You don't need anything more than trainers, preferably running shoes and clothes. You can run on your street, around the block or through the park. It's a great way to get fit and doing a Fun Run at the end is a good test of how far you have come since the beginning of training.

Personal Lessons Learned

  • Train well in advance, indoors and outdoors (squats and jumping jacks indoors)
  • Good running shoes, regardless of their unsightliness (bad shoes are painful)
  • Prepare for all weather. Really, do that.
  • You don't have to fund-raise to be part of some fun-runs. You can pay to participate instead. Just find out which fun-runs allow you to do that.
  • Experienced and non-experienced Fun-Runners are supportive, so don't feel like they'll laugh if you're slow. We all start from somewhere. In fact, they're very encouraging.

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