The Yoshinkan Stance

The Yoshinkan Stance

Aikido stances are a bit odd. I’ll be honest. I’ve studied boxing, MMA, KFM and other self defence systems and the idea has always been the heel of your back foot has always been up. Look at boxers, their heel is very rarely on the floor. Yet in Aikido, we are encouraged to keep our heel on the floor. Why? The principle is sound. The more contact you have with the floor, the more stable you are and to me this makes sense. But from a power and striking and movement perspective, I struggle!

Movement and speed to me has always been the key to my martial arts training. I’m the average size of an oompa loompa, but by god I’m quick and that has always been my advantage, whether it has been doing martial arts or playing rugby for the school team, I’ve been rapid. Having my heel on the floor all the time as Yoshinkan Aikido dictates slows me down slightly. When we look at the basic techniques however, the heel is always down in order to secure stability and employ maximum power through the hips.

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The Yoshinkan stance when teaching a beginner is fairly simple; If we were looking at migi hamni kamae (right stance) the right foot would step forward about a pace, with the front (right) foot turning to about 2 o’clock on a clock face. The back foot would be at about 10 o’clock with the heel down. 60% of the weight would be distributed to the front foot, 40% on the back foot. The top hand (right) would be about chest level with fingers splayed out, and the bottom hand would be about belt level, again, fingers splayed out. This is the basic Yoshinkan posture as outlined below.

However, from the numerous high ranking instructors I’ve learnt from. Kamae is more a state of mind. The posture allows you to find you centre, see where you are strong, and once you have this, it doesn’t matter how you stand, you have this strength as you know where your power lies. Kamae is simple a physical form of the mental state of your mind. When you enter kamae, everything at that point should be focussed on your partner. The mind and body unite and you focus completely on the what you are doing. When you reach a high level, the physical form doesn’t matter that much, its the mental state and the fact that you know where you are strong and where your centre is that is important. This to me is the essence of Kamae, please feel free to disagree 🙂

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Mrs Martial Arts

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Mrs Martial Arts

Let’s face it, normally martial arts are seen as a pretty masculine endeavour. Just check out Chuck Norris, could that guy be any more man?! The guys got more hair on his chest than Austin Powers! Martial arts involves kicking, punching, snapping, cracking, flipping, tripping and submitting (you like that rhyming?) and so is traditionally seen as a masculine. Martial arts also involves balance, elegance, patience, flexibility and a great deal of thought however and so is perfect and arguably more suited to females too! Martial arts still remains fairly male dominated however, even though in many cases women are more suited to martial arts training than males!

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Women are generally considered to be less muscular than men but more flexible and I think we can all agree that martial arts requires a certain amount of flexibility. This could be used in Aikido to get into the long and low positions or to safely take a fall, Taekwondo to hit those incredible head kicks, or BJJ to manoeuvre your opponent into the rubber guard! Flexibility is key to great martial arts training both to  reduce the risk of injuries and also to generally improve practice and technique! Reason 1 why females are perfect for martial arts! Need proof? Check it out below!

In case you hadn’t quite realised this yet…martial arts are tricky… It takes time, patience and dedication to achieve a high level in martial arts and again it is generally considered that females have a bit more patience than blokes! Hundreds of thousands of hours are needed to achieve mastery in martial arts and its a lifelong pursuit which very few of us will sadly continue for the rest of our lives. Due to the increased flexibility alluded to earlier, women can have more of a longevity in the martial arts, continuing well in to old age where others may have to stop due to injuries from training for a number of years.

I also mentioned earlier that women are generally considered to have less muscle mass than men and this can also be an advantage in learning a martial art, especially in the early stages. If you have an increase in muscle mass, there’s a tendency to use it in martial arts which can lead to poor technique. How many times of you heard someone say they were just “muscling the technique”. If there isn’t that muscle mass to use, proper technique must be employed and so females can have an advantage in this, learning the technique more effectively as they don’t have the option to just muscle the technique.

I will say however that if you get someone with great technique and who also works out, you’re in a world of s***!! This is beautifully demonstrated by my future wife Rhonda Rousey below 🙂

So ladies! Get training, give some martial arts a go! You’ve got a lot of the advantages of martial arts that us big dopey males don’t have so get involved :D. Check out our friend www.themartialartswoman.com for a perspective on female martial arts!

Disclaimer – This post involves an incredible amount of sweeping generalisations and in the end everyone can be good at martial arts, it just takes time, patience and the right attitude, it’s not the presence of an X or Y chromosome! Also I’m pretty sure Rhonda Rousey won’t be my future wife but get sharing, commenting and liking and maybe one day she’ll see this post and fall head over heels for me. Love in the digital age people…. I leave it in your capable hands!

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