Kungfu Knowledge Series – These are the 5 Main Kung Fu Stances!

kung fu stances

Hey there and great that you are joining us.

Today it is all about Kung fu Stances.

They make up the Foundation of every form and in the end every attack and block. A good stance can be the reason you win or lose a fight and if performed correctly they make the movements so much more beautiful.

A perfect Kung Fu Form is like a deadly dance.

The power comes from the stances and flows through the whole body. If everything is in-sinc it just explodes into something stunning. (Tell me I am going overboard, but with Kung Fu I found my personal favorite style it ain’t just simple defense, it is a true form of art).

Now I know that there are quite a few people out there who think that the traditional stances are far to low and unpractical.

Well I think you are missing a point.

A perfect Horsestance is the world best Workout for your leg muscles, improving your muscle strength, balance and stability a lot. There is this saying once you can keep it an hour, not even a giant will be able to push you over.

Also more importantly you get comfortable moving low and using that leg power to stand up fast, kick hard and also even evade potential blows.

You are getting comfortable playing with all different levels. Low, Middle, High. You can adapt to situations by playing with a much larger range of motions.

You get my point? Always try to train the lower stances, instead of the easy high ones if you want to get a great workout.

In Shaolin Kung Fu there are about 5 main Kung Fu stances, which also are trained in the first form you usually learn, the “5-Step” (You will get the tutorial for that one next Wednesday ).

Now let me give you a brief introduction of each one.

1. Horsestance

horse stance kungfu stance
Sorry for the tired look, next time I try to smile…it was late and super hot xD But here you go, Mabu!

Also called “Mabu”. This one is the main stance one can say.

If you watched any Chinese Kung Fu Movies, the disciple usually has to hold this stance for a long time under horrible conditions.

The legs should be a bit farther than shoulder wide apart. Toes pointing forward, try not to twist them outwards. Now lower your body and bent your knees until your legs reach a 90 degrees angle and you are sitting on your imaginary chair. Keep the back straight. There you go. If you want to train this one like a true Shaolin Warrior, I just wrote a post about unusual training methods, Mabu is one of them, here is the link.)

2. Bow Stance

bow stance kung fu stances
There this stance can be lower if needed. Generally the lower the more stable a stance gets.

Well there is no Horsestance without a Bow Stance “Gong Bu”.

One usually moves from one to the other. When in Horstance simply twist your body to one side.The front leg will stay in a slightly higher angle than before and the toes point forward. The toes of your back lack also twist, but not fully, just about halfway to the side you are facing. Try to keep the hips low, the back leg and the upper body straight. Face to the direction you turned.

3. Lower Stance

low stance kungfu stances

This one, the “Pu Bu” is the enemy of most Kung Fu students.

It seems impossible to do if you are not flexible enough, but in the end it is all about trying.

Go into a very wide Horsestance and slowly but all your weight onto one leg. Now squat down as low as possible. Feet keep on pointing forward, heels stay on the ground. Don’t make my mistake, you are not supposed to actually sit on your leg.

This stance is primarily used to evade high attacks, pick up something from the ground, sweeps and knee, groin and ankle attacks. Plus it does look damn cool if you can do it properly. Also a great strength training, because standing up fast from this position ain’t that easy 😉

4. Cat Stance

SAMSUNG CSC
Mine sucks big time, it should be so much lower…but first got to strenghten those knees xD

Fittingly called “Mao Bu”. Some might know it as empty stance.

It is great for kicking attacks. In the end one puts all the weight onto the back leg, the front leg just slightly touching the ground, like a cat paw. Ultimately the stance should be so low that there is a 90 degree angle. To reach that one has to do many, many pistol squats. But don’t worry usually it is fine if you start up higher and then slowly with training and strength make your way down.

5. Crossed Stance

basic kung fu stance cross stance

“Zuo Pan Bu” Sitting on crossed legs stance is the last of the traditional Stances.

This one is a bit tricky to explain.

Start of in Mabu and put one leg behind and twist down until you are kind of sitting on your back leg. Just watch the picture, so much easier to explain. This stance is also called resting stance. It protects the groin and gives you either the possibility for a low attack or a defense.

In the end all of these you will find in nearly every single form you will learn.

They are the foundation and the better the foundation, the better the form will be. The better the form and the more the movements become reflexes, the more likely you will be to use the forms for actual fighting. You get my point^^

Now before you start be careful with these things:

Don’t ever let the knees get over your toes when you are doing Horse-, Bow- or Cat Stance. It puts too much pressure on them and you could seriously injure them.

Keep your back straight. ALWAYS

Be patient. If you can’t reach one yet, don’t be frustrated. Kung Fu translates to “Hard Work” for a reason.
Well and that’s it for today.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. Hope you are having a lovely Day and wishing you a great training.

Ps. These pictures are taken in Maling Kung Fu Academy , Jiangsu Province China. The school were I will be training at for the next 8 months.

2 comments

  1. Steve Reply

    Insightful article. I can resonate a lot of what you said. Kung-fu is indeed a total body experience.

  2. Pingback: What is the first Kung Fu Form you will learn? Learn 5-Step with me! - KungFuPrincess on the Road

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