4 posts / 0 new
Last post
kodankye's picture
Switching to Cat Stance & Short Front Stance

I was trained in the JKA / ISKF style of Shotokan with very deep stances.  My knees are not as healthy as they once were, hence I desire to adjust my kata to a form that will reduce my discomfort and extend my karate practice.   Simply emulating Iain's kata seems to me a pragmatic starting point.  Functionally, it seems it would be as simple as, "just change to cat stance" or "just shorten your front stance," yet, I have already noticed some footwork and balance differences.  If anyone has already "switched" in this manner, please offer advice if you have some.  For the people who began and continue to practice with the "Cat Stance" versions, any insight you have picked up would of course also be welcome.

Anf's picture

We use what might be called cat stance extensively in the style I practice. We also use the more common strong stances including your front stance. There are balance differences as you say. The 'strong' stances seem to lend themselves to strong technique, while cat stance is more about being relaxed, light and agile. I think in terms of forms / kata, sorry I can't help, but you raise a very interesting point. I might have a play with some of the forms buy swapping stances about a bit to see what happens. I guess it's all about practice.

Jeb Chiles
Jeb Chiles's picture

We do Shotokan in much more upright, natural stances. It is about shoulder width and the length of foot to knee with 50/50 weight, toes pointing forward for front stance(the front knee should be bent between mid foot to front toes). Turn the back foot 90° shift the weight back by pulling front foot back about a fist distance with 60/40 weight to the back (both knees over feet). Horse as wide as your knees can go comfortably feet positioned right below the knees, weight 50/50. I would also avoid locking the knee ( as in front stance)and consider a two foot movement when stepping such as stepping into front stance and sliding the back foot to a stop rather than just stopping with the front knee. All the best! Jeb

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

kodankye wrote:
My knees are not as healthy as they once were, hence I desire to adjust my kata to a form that will reduce my discomfort and extend my karate practice.

As I see it, when it comes to the solo kata, the key thing is the weight distribution. The extent to which that weight distribution is illustrated by the solo form is not that important.

Combatively, exact weight distribution will depend on innumerable unknows i.e. distance between combatants, direction of movement, height and weight differences, floor surface, etc. So, the example of the kata is an illustration of concept and it does not matter which example you choose from a bunkai perspective.

In terms of the solo form, lower stances have the benefit of increase physical conditioning. Higher stances can be easier on the knees. Combatively, the example of the solo from does not matter as the exact momentary leg position (“stance”) will depend on the situation.

I can see no negatives and plenty of positives through altering the example to one more suitable for you. So long as your weight is shifted back, it does not matter to what degree in the solo form.

This old article on stances generally may be relevant:


All the best,