What is the perfect guard stance?
The perfect guard stance does not exist, the stances are like any other fighting technique, there are:
- General rules to know (read The guard stances in 6DKF)
- Tests to perform (sparring, times of reaction, etc.)
- Different contexts of application (read for example A self-defense trick: the secret guard stances, even in the same fight)
- Different style of combat (more defensive, aggressive, tactical, etc.)
- Different types of fighters (physical / mental characteristics, etc.)
A note by Master Kongling – Unfortunately, most instructors consider their personal choices to be infallible (read Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics) and the imposition that follows (even at advanced levels) seriously damages the martial growth of their students. For example, in boxing, I really appreciate boxers who, at a high level, consciously and reasonably decide to keep their guard low: they went against a custom, they found their method and it works! It is not a matter of making decisions at random but of being humble, testing, listening to those who are more skilled and only after, having acquired the necessary experience, make a choice.
Let’s build our first basic guard stance
- Let’s start from a neutral stance
- Let’s move one leg forward (we have no preferred sides)
- Let’s open laterally and backward the other
- Let’s always remember that we have to feel comfortable
- The back foot is pointing slightly in direction of the opponent
- Also the other foot is pointing toward the opponent but it is slightly more straight
- Both knees bend
- The shoulders must be relaxed
- Let’s slightly rotate our body laterally, offering our side
- Let’s close our elbows, attaching them to our chest
- The hands are in front of our mouth
- The fingers are not opened nor closed, they are attached and slightly bent
- The chin goes downward, to cover our neck and our weak points
- Our line of sight is directed to the base of the opponent’s neck
- Our chest slightly bends to compress the abdomen
- The weight is on the front leg
- When we stand still, the back leg has less weight and the heel is ready to push forward
- The opening of the legs must not overcome the one of our shoulders
- Our weight and our line of gravity must be displaced frontally, in direction of our opponent (read How to improve balance: tricks and exercises)
- In relation to our arms, the length of our guard must not always be the same
- If the opponent is near us, we have to close the guard
- If the opponent is far away, we have to elongate the guard
- We must be ready to grab, to hit, to parry, to kick, to analyze, to punch (etc.)
- Our limbs must always be bent, let’s never make our limbs straight (nor the legs, nor the arms)
A few questions related to the most common errors
Why is it “wrong” to position the back foot perpendicularly to the front one?
- Because we cannot push effectively; if the foot is not directed frontally, we cannot add directional power (to punch, to move, to resist, etc.)
- We lose part of the muscle chain we could instead include (read Use the body power: the muscle chain)
- Naturally, if we know what we are doing, this can be a tactical choice (eg. to be ready to rotate sideways) but for a beginner, it is a natural but bad attitude
Why the legs’ opening must be similar to the one of the shoulders?
- Opening too much the legs (eg. in a stance similar to Ma Bu, read The correct position of the rider (ma bu)), we are more stable but we cannot move fast as we could
- Closing too much the legs helps to be ready to move faster in all the directions but we are inevitably less stable (read Kung Fu rooting: the pyramid concept)
- This is valid, proportionally, for both the beginner, the more conditioned Shaolin monk, the more trained karateka and the stronger MMA fighter
- Again, tactically, each opening makes sense (if we know what we are doing) but if we are novices, the best thing is to find a balance and the shoulders width is a good compromise
Why the weight must be forward-directed?
- Because the opponent pushes his action toward us
- If we move the weight backward (without a specific reason), we can easily fall (we are helping the action of our adversary)
- Let’s go in the direction of your opponent, our line of gravity must be slightly moved forward
What to do if the upper part of our guard rapidly goes down (against our will)?
- First of all, let’s try to understand that, to maintain an up and safe guard stance, we have to imagine to be tight by a rope around our chest
- Secondly, in the beginning, we can try to lean our elbows on our ribs and focus on the fact that our hands should be (at least) inside our line of sight
- Even a low guard can be a personal combat setting but only with the right rational premises
Some conclusive tips and notes:
- These are only basic indications for a basic guard stance, there are plenty of other things that can be said, that can be changed
- The perfect guard stance is the one who helps us to fight better, we have to be balanced, ready to attack and to defend (all the rest is only trash talking)
- The more we study, even for the apparently most simple things, the more we realize that details are endless
In-depth video courses
- Basic free hand fighting techniques – All the fundamental fighting techniques of 6 Dragons Kung Fu
- How to punch faster – An extrapolation of the speed advanced speed and reflexes training course
- How to rapidly learn Kung Fu: guard stance – A fast and simple explanation for a rapid learning
- Mobility, balance and direction change – A discussion about some of the most critical elements of combat
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- Do you feel comfortable with your fighting stance?
Author: Master KonglingFounder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.
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