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Why Practice Low Wide Stances

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Many may feel that low wide stance practice is impractical for real life combat situations. If so, then why is the practice of low wide stances in most Chinese martial art styles? If a person never trained in a classical Chinese martial art style (like Kung Fu or Tai Chi) then they will never understand the reason for low wide open stances. There is a great purpose for it. It not only helps you get healthier, stronger and develop jin (internal force) but contrary to what some may think, it does prepare you for real life combat situations.

There is a Chinese saying that states you must "First create the frame before you take a step. Once the frame's created, the step is easy to take." When training our goal is to have our "frame" or "structure" of our stances to be very low, wide and open, but when we move to "flowing" through our moves we naturally practice a little higher and a little smaller. Nevertheless, we must be careful not to go too high or too narrow. What we want is for our stances to be naturally somewhat low and somewhat wide even as we flow through our moves more quickly. This "just right" level is not only so that our forms look nice in performance, but also so as to compensate for a natural aspect of human psychology. When confronted with a dangerous situation, people naturally tend to tense up and restrict their movements. When tense, the punch you throw will not go as far, the kick not as high and the stance not as low as when you practiced. Even if your moves only shrink by one inch, this one inch could make all the difference in a real life combat situation.

This is the reason for the practice the Chinese call "practice long, use short." If you practice the moves slightly lower and longer than you would use them in real life then they will naturally shrink back to that "just right" level if you need to use them under real life pressure.

Therefore, you should always work on improving your stances making them lower, wider and more open. They will not only look better in your form work but also help increase your range of motion, an important quality needed as you get older.

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