Stances are at the core of all karate training.  Practitioners must master each stance and be able to move in and out of it smoothly, quickly and effectively.  Try to keep the eyes level when moving into another stance of same height.

  • Hour-glass/Sanchin dachi
  • Parallel/Heiko dachi
  • Horse stance/shiko dachi
  • Front stance/zenkutsu dachi
  • Cat stance/nekoashi dachi
  • Re no ji dachi
  • Back stance
Basic Karate Stances for Beginners

Sanchin Dachi

sanchin stance goju-ryu


Sanchin is the foundational stance of goju ryu.  This writer has not come across it in other systems.  It is simultaneously strong, and quick to move from.

Sanchin is formed by having the feet shoulders' distance wide (at the outside of the feet), with one foot forward pointed 45 degrees inward with the edge of its heel in line with the end of the big toe of the other foot.

Movement is smooth.  Foot slides lightly across the floor, always touching without weight until it is settled into its new position.

Weight is evenly distributed across both legs, centered just behind the ball of the foot.

Shiko Dachi


Wide stance.  Equal weighted. Low. Back straight.  Also known as horse stance (except feet are pointed 45 degrees outward).

Zenkutsu Dachi

karate front stance zenkutsu dachi


Also known as forward leaning stance, zenkutsu dachi is marked by 60% of the weight on the front foot, with 40% on the back.  The back leg is straight, bracing the practitioner from energetic rebound or push back that would interfere with the projection of force in a strong technique.

Shoulders remain square to the front.  Eyes stay level on movement, first shifting the front foot 45 degrees away then stepping through with back leg, first bringing the knees together and then out to the new stance.

Nekoashi Dachi

cat stance goju-ryu nekoashi dachi


Kokutsu Dachi

karate back stance


Renoji Dachi


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