Photo credit: Jose Carlos Cerdeño

Learning to stand well is one of the ways we learn to defend ourselves. The use of the word stand is relatively common in our expressions. “Stand up for what you believe in” or “Stand Tall” or “Stand Your Ground”…these have meaning beyond their physical bearing and point to the fact that how we stand provides communication regarding who we are in the moment and what we are about. In Karate the first thing you learn is how to stand. If you can do it well, really master your stance, you may be able to deter a would be attacker or deescalate a threat simply by what is communicated thru your stance. As beginners when the command “Kiotsuke” (or Attention!) is called we learn how to stand upright and strong with our minds focused sharply on the next moment. We are encouraged not to be tense or overly tight but simply alert, receptive and responsive. If we can deeply master this stance by learning how to instantly gather our focus and attention and place it wherever we direct it, whoever is in our presence will have a sense of our readiness but also our deep state of calm regarding whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

As we begin to train we learn that all of our katas have a Yoi or ready position where we are balanced and prepared to move into the kata. We are ready for anything, poised and highly aware. In this stance our mental state/being is similar to the attitude we express after hearing “Kiotsuke” but now our bodies are poised to move. As we deepen our study of the kata we begin to understand how the Yoi position has a significant role to play in the execution of the kata and also will have a significant impact on our success in any type of fighting situation. If the position we are in when we begin to move or respond to an attack is flawed, off balance or weak in any way, it is unlikely that our move or response will have the outcome we intend.

When you train, take the extra few seconds, every time, to work on your stances.

The readiness is all.