I learned something recently and would like to know what others think about it.
In Karate Science by J.D. Swanson, he distinguishes “inside tension” and “outside tension” stances. The idea is that in a stance you are not just standing there, but pushing on the floor as you stand. Inside tension stances would be like if you are standing on slippery ice and trying to pull your feet together; outside tension would be like if you are standing on slippery ice and trying to push your feet apart. He says that front stance and horse stance are generally outside tension stances, while back/cat stance, sanchin stance are generally inside tension stances. I was never taught anything like this, so I found the concept interesting.
Recently I was reading the 1935 edition of Karate-do Kyohan by Funakoshi. He talks about horse stance in a way that sounds like *inside* tension. “Pull your heels … with a feeling of concentrating your strength from the outside toward the center.” He goes on, “This is the most solid stance.” (p. 23 Neptune Publishing edition).
I got to that part of the book because I was reading what Funakoshi had to say about Naihanchi/Tekki. “Knowing how to stand is the life of this kata, so pay special attention to this when you exercise.” (p.91) I tried doing Naihanchi with inside tension in the stance, and it really does add some pop to the crossover steps and the returning-wave kicks, since both of those are outside-to-inside motions. I will say though that the stance does not feel at all natural to me, probably because I never tried it before.
What is strange to me is that Swanson is 5th-dan Shotokan, and his advice is opposite to Funakoshi’s? (Am I completely misunderstanding here?)
So finally to my questions for others. Does anyone else practice Naihanchi with inside tension in the stance? Is that the right way to do it? What about non-Naihanchi horse stances? What are your thoughts on this? And more basically, I am curious when others introduce the idea of tension in the stance in their curriculum.
Thanks in advance.