Do Karate Stances

Edited by Seighart, Charmed, Nuance


Looking at Karate - Stance and Balance

Many different stances are used in Karate, each with strong and weak points. The ones you will find useful at the beginning are the "Natural" and "Ready Stance", and the "Back stance". In all three, the body balance is kept low.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

The Natural or Ready Stance

From this natural, upright position, you are "ready" to move in any direction and into any other stance. Your feet should be about as far apart as your shoulders, with your fists clenched at your sides, and a little to the front of your body. Bow from the natural, or ready stance as a kind of salute and sign of respect for your opponent.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Forward Stance

About 60% of your body weight is on your front foot on this stance. Your leg must be straight. If your body weight is too far forward, it will be hard to move quickly. *Hold your rear leg straight and tense with your heel flat on the ground if you can. *The toes of your rear foot should be turned towards the front at about a 45 degree angle.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help
  • Keep your back straight and head up.
  • To move forward in this stance, bring foot up alongside and past your front leg by sliding it barely above the ground.
  • When your rear foot ends its forward slide, tense and straighten your back leg. *Keep both heels flat.
  • The basic rule in body shifting or movement is always to move your hips first and your legs afterwards.
  • To move back from a forward stance, bend your rear knee and slide your front foot to the rear.
Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Back Stance

More flexible than the forward stance, the back stance is mainly used for defense. Many karate fighters prefer this stance because it is easy for them to shift into anther stance whenever the need arises.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help
  • About 70% of your body weight is kept on your back leg.
  • You lock your hips at a 45-degree angle, with your body in the half-front facing position.
  • To move forward in a back stance, bring your leg up and next to your front leg. *Remember to move your hips first.
  • Do not pick up your foot. Instead glide forward, and shift your body weight to your front leg as your rear leg moves to the front.
Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Sometimes it's necessary to turn quickly in the opposite direction to protect yourself from a sudden attack from the rear. To do this from the back stance:

  • Pivot on the balls of both feet and adjust your body weight in the opposite direction at the same time.
  • Pivoting to the rear from the forward stance requires moving your back foot straight across about 10 inches past the heel of your forward foot while keeping your back straight and your body low.
  • Turn on the balls of both feet to your rear.
  • At the same time shift the weight of your body forward.
  • About 60% of your body weight is now on your front foot and 40% on your rear leg, that is rigid and tensed.

Horse Stance

It is called a horse stance because it resembles the position of a man on a horse. *Your feet are placed about twice apart as your shoulders, with your legs tensed and your back straight.

  • Bend both knees and push outward to the sides.
  • This is a very strong defensive stance, since only one side of your body is exposed to an attack. To move to the left from the horse stance:
  • Bring your right leg in front of your left.
  • Stay low and keep your back straight.
  • Move your left foot two shoulder widths apart in the same direction.
Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Referencing this Article

If you need to reference this article in your work, you can copy-paste the following depending on your required format:

APA (American Psychological Association)
Do Karate Stances. (2017). In VisiHow. Retrieved Apr 27, 2017, from

MLA (Modern Language Association) "Do Karate Stances." VisiHow, Accessed 27 Apr 2017.

Chicago / Turabian "Do Karate Stances." Accessed Apr 27, 2017.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


VisiHow welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Ask the author

Premier Author
46 Articles Started
142 Article Edits
4,225 Points
Seighart is a premier author with VisiHow. Seighart has achieved the level of "Corporal" with 4,225 points. Seighart has started 46 articles (including this one) and has also made 142 article edits. 91,900 people have read Seighart's article contributions.
Seighart's Message Board
Seighart: Hi, my name is Seighart.
Seighart: Can I help you with your problem about "Do Karate Stances"?

Article Info

Categories : Combat Sports

Recent edits by: Charmed, Seighart

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 3,619 times.

Do you have a question not answered in this article?
Click here to ask one of the writers of this article

Thank Our Volunteer Authors.

Would you like to give back to the community by fixing a spelling mistake? Yes | No