Today’s class covers three basic movements from a Cat Stance which will help to build your understanding of the body mechanics (身法, Shēn Fǎ) of the stance.
Key throughout this class is the correct weight distribution between your two legs. Although most commonly called “Cat Stance” in English, the standard Chinese name for this stance (虚步, Xū Bù) translates to “Empty Stance” or “False Stance”, so called because the front leg remains “empty” or “false” (with very little weight placed upon it) whilst the back leg (the “true” leg) carries the majority of the body weight. Striking from this position may feel unusual as a beginner, as you must overcome your natural tendency to shift your weight forward onto your front leg as you strike. Instead, the weight must remain sunken and rooted on the back leg when striking, with the breath remaining low in the diaphragm and a low centre of balance helping to maintain stability. When striking, power is generated from subtle twisting motions in the hips, waist and spine rather than by pushing the arms out in an isolated manner, with the power generated from the floor upwards and traveling through the legs, up through the hips and spine to the shoulders and along the arms to the hands.
Benefits of Cat Stance Training
The training from today’s class can help to improve the following attributes:
Single leg stability and balance
Making you more familiar with striking from different positions of weight distribution
Build strength in your ankle and knee - this is especially important if you have unstable ankles which are prone to sprains.
If your knees are painful during your Cat Stance training, ensure that the knee on your supporting leg is facing in the same direction as your toes. If the knee is out of alignment, this creates unnatural pressure on the knee joint and can cause damage.
What Is the Purpose of the Cat Stance In Application?
As with many Kung Fu stances, the Cat Stance may appear to be an odd and impractical position when viewed in a static manner without context as to its multi-purpose uses and applications. However, the Cat Stance has many benefits in a combat scenario once you begin to factor in footwork (步法, Bù Fǎ) against an opponent. This includes:
Using the transition of your weight onto your rear leg to grab and pull your opponent
Using the rear-loaded position to free up your front leg for quick, reactive kicks
Being able to shift back and spring forwards in quick succession.
Try following the movements from today’s video whilst bearing the above details in mind. Once you feel like you have a basic grasp of each of the movements, you can practice each one by following the below plan:
20 Cat Stance Push
20 Cat Stance Phoenix Eye Fist
20 Cat Stance Block
Once you’ve finished, rest and repeat as many times as you wish for your training session, making sure you maintain good quality of movement during each repetition. Good luck!