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This ring is under construction so please don't nail me for broken links. It's likely to take about a month to finish, I'm about 1/16 of the way through. Thanks for your patience.

The Heisoku Dachi is very simple to form. The feet are together facing forward and the knees are straight, just as if you were standing to attention. Many styles (usually the more westernised ones) use this stance for bowing (Rei) at the beginning of class and all the other times when bowing is required.

Despite being a relatively 'weak' stance it is frequently employed in Kata. Some Kata start and end with this stance, and there are a few moves in the middle of a Kata where the Karateka seems to be 'drawing herself up' (either 'to her full height' or 'back to focus' after some jumping/kicking etc).

From a pure physical mechanics point of view there's really not a lot of lateral stability in this stance, however there are many redeeming features. For example, in this stance you have the most potential gravitational energy whilst remaining fairly stable (ie you're not about to fall over), thus from here you can 'drop', gaining energy as you do so. It also lends itself well to stepping sidewards into a stronger stance.

The action of using some of that potential energy is exhibited in the Naifanchi Kata wherein you begin standing in this stance. There is a period of slow controlled 'focussing' moves, and then and explosive attack. This attack is 90° to the right hand side and is achieved by bending both knees, stepping your left foot accross your right with your left leg in front of your right, and then stepping the right leg accross to form Naifanchi Dachi in which you remain for the rest of the Kata, performing several more of these criss-cross walk things to move about (you only move sideways in this Kata, see my wu for more info). In this first movement the Karateka is using the potential energy difference between the heights of Heisoku Dachi and Naifanchi Dachi to gain sideways momentum* for a powerful palm-heel strike. My guess is that this is supposed to be a pre-emptive strike, a bit like an 'offensive defence' technique which is why the speed and the range are necessary, and why this stepping technique is used.

The point I'm making, (the very important point) is that all the stances have their merits, you just have to look for them, and if you cannot find any, then you should probably ask a higher grade to help you. These martial artists were clever buggers, they knew what they were doing.

*As part of this move the Karateka also brings their hands from a low position (straight down, hands open, 1st-fingertips touching but backs of hands facing forward) up to the chest rapidly whilst performing the cross-over legs motion. The palms of the hands stay facing the body and the fingertips touching, thus the elbows move out to the sides. In my own analysis of this move (by no means definitive) I believe that the Karateka is supposed to be using the upward acceleration of their arms to give resultant 'downforce' to their body, thus causing the drop to happen more quickly and making the sideways acceleration greater. It sounds ridiculous but Karate is riddled with these supposedly impossible moves or moves of seemingly negligible import. Maybe the original Karateka were being a bit optimistic about even their own abilities, or perhaps they were constructing these moves in the knowledge that in the future people would get faster and stronger and perhaps be able to achieve more with their bodies. Or perhaps they really were as good as many of us think they might have been...

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