2017 Oct 26
In class lately we've been focused more than usual on stances. Why? Because after requesting a longer stance as an instructor and getting some beautiful, long stances from the members of the class, two steps forward and students need to be reminded again. And again. And again. Push-ups happen. Instructors cry a little on the inside, and then ask for long/lower stances one more time.
What is the big deal? Why are martial arts instructors from many different arts harping on decent stances all the time?
We could talk about the physical aspects of a sturdy stance - how it helps us produce more energy and be more grounded or move more quickly, depending on the situation of its use. However, I would like to focus on what it represents in general. A decent stance is an obvious indicator of how much effort you are putting into your practice. Beautiful stances imply focus and will. They take hard work and intent. A beautiful stance demonstrates you are giving "all out effort," which WTSDA students know is attitude requirement #3. Of course the opposite is true. Lazy stances aren't doing anyone any good, and they let your instructor know you aren't working at your full potential.
What does this have to do with being a little uncomfortable? Like anything in life, if you want to get better, you need to step a little farther every day. If you are learning a new subject, you need to put the tedious study time in. If you want to be more in shape, you need to push it when you work out. A person able to do 100 push ups didn't start with 100. Flexibility requires more stretching. If you want to be a better martial artist, you need to lower and/or elongate your stances. You need to go to that point where it feels a little uncomfortable. Not painful. Just a little stretchier, a little lower, and a little challenging to maintain.
We all get to that point where we have done a million kimajase. Another front stance? Seriously? I hear it! However, the moment you lighten up it shows in everything else. I can tell when I am getting tired - my stances go first, and then so do my techniques. Even as a seasoned student I need to stay diligent - if I start to ease up, I lose muscle strength and flexibility, and it happens quickly. How many of us went on a vacation, came back to class and had a bit of catch-up to do?
Not every student is going to get the "all out effort" idea right away, or even ever. However, if a few students get it they can set a good example, and hopefully encourage those students around them by demonstration. As well, if getting a little uncomfortable in your training doesn't happen, your chances of understanding what it means to be a black belt are not awesome.
We are all shaped differently. We all have different levels of flexibility and physical ability. Our "being a little uncomfortable" is going to look a little different from any other student. I can promise you though, that unless you are a brand new student, your instructor has seen what you can do and recognises when you are doing your best. We've seen those beautiful stances. I want to see them all the time - every single time. We can then save the push-ups for warm ups and work out days, and the instructor tears for your black belt test and make them happy ones.