(Issue 2: October/November 1997)
All traditional Okinawan and Japanese karate systems use stances, punches, kicks, strikes, and blocks. It is the application and interpretation of these techniques and their relative value and strength that separates the karate community into various camps (Ryu or Styles). Starting with the first area "stances" I would like to discuss what it is that makes a stance. Only after we understand this can we began to appreciate the stances of Chito-ryu better
To really know a stance we must:
-Understand the purpose of the stance: Look at the name of the stance, most early stances were used in specific kata and bear name as the kata.
-What is the base of the stance? Does it have a high center of gravity or a low center of gravity? What about the position of the feet?
-What is the depth of the stance? Is it shallow? If so, WHY? Is it deep? Once again, WHY? (While most modern stances have a wide with, the older more traditional ones had a narrow width. This made them more effective for self defense, not for sport)
-How high do you stand or how low do you carry your hips. WHY? How does this assist you in accomplishing of the "mission" of your stance.
-In which direction is the stance strongest? Weakest? Is the direction proper in relation to the target area?
-Foot position is of the utmost importance and it is here where the more traditional stances of Chito-ryu come into full appreciation by those of us who are fortunate enough to study this style. Does the foot position allow one to attack quickly, or defend with balance and strength?
-Knee and ankle flexibility is most important in both defense and attack, is it proper?
-The focus (kime) of the techniques (attack and defense) should be enhanced by the stance. Does it happen? If not more practice will be needed.
The stance is of primary importance in karate. It is from this base that all defense and attacking techniques are launched. Weak stance equals weak technique.
Special thanks to Doctor Milorad V. Stricevic, for his work in this area. (Karate Martial Art and Sport, Volume One).
William J. Dometrich, Kyoshi
Founder and Chief Instructor
United States Chito-ryu Karate Federation