What is The Purpose of Stances in Kung Fu?
Kung Fu places a heavy emphasis on stances, a practice which is an essential part of basics (基本功, Jīběngōng) training. Putting the time and energy into perfecting your stances is vital in allowing you to progress your training at a later stage, with stances training building the following attributes.
One of the main ways to practice stances in Kung Fu is to hold a position for an extended period of time, for example with the Horse Stance. Doing so builds strength in the legs and core and provides a stable and firm base from which to execute techniques.
Regulating the Body
Stances in Kung Fu also help stretch the muscles, open the joints and regulate the body as a whole through the proper alignments of the body structure. This can help provide an active stretch and correct poor posture.
Although we begin by training stances in a static and isolated manner, in future classes you will begin moving between stances as part of movement drills and basic combinations. When performed competently at a higher level, stances are no longer static positions to move to, but are rather positions to transition through which help provide a reference for proper power generation. When executed in this way, the stances form dynamic and stable footwork patterns which teach important lessons around full-body coordination and the execution of techniques.
Today's class covers five of the most common Kung Fu stances you will encounter during your training; Horse Stance (Mǎ Bù), Bow Stance (Gōng Bù), Cat Stance (Xū Bù), Rest Stance (Xiè Bù) and Drop Stance (Pū Bù). By studying today's material, you will gain a basic understanding of the correct structure and alignment for each stance, which you will then be applying in future classes.
Try copying the stances in the video according to the instructions, focusing on proper posture. Once you're familiar with each stance, try holding each of the stances for a set period of time, for example:
One minute Horse Stance
One minute Bow Stance each side
30 seconds Cat Stance
30 seconds Rest Stance
30 seconds Drop Stance
The above is an example framework and should be adjusted according to your fitness levels and capabilities; if you're struggling with the times above, try holding each stance for shorter periods, whilst if you still have energy at the end of your training, try holding each stance for a longer period of time or running through the drills multiple times.