Most beginners have troubles to hold correct “Four Level Stance” (Sei Ping Ma) even for 30 seconds or minute. Is it so because their legs are weak? Might be so. However, some beginners can hold 5 minutes in their Sei Ping Ma on the first occasion they try it (for example ladies) – and they are not necessarily stronger than others.
Let’s raise couple of questions: What is the main aim of the stance training? Strengthening the legs? Test of will? Punishement? Old masters were wiser than that. Old saying goes: “Before you start to train martial art, learn first the stance training” (Mei Lin Kyun, Sin Hok Jaat Ma). Why is the “Stance Trianing” so important? Or – is it important?
One more question – do your knees or lower back hurt in your stance training? “Work harder” is the common answer. Ok, but we at Practical Hung Kyun prefer to work smart.
Strength (endurance) is just one of the many aspect of stance training in Practical Hung Kyun, and to be candid, not really the most important one. Same goes for strength training of the lower extremities in general – there are much better ways how to strengthen your legs.
The first aim of the “Stance Training” is correct posture, flexibility, mobility and functional alingement of all joints (ankles, knees, hips, thoratic spine, scapulae, shoulders). If your body fights hard to maintain correct posture, no wonder you cannot hold your stance for the desired time (in our Practical Hung Kyun the requirement for the 1st Level is 5 minutes).
Calm mind and specific breathing patterns help to attain and maintain correct posture, correct posture helps to calm the mind and “Sink the Breath to the Cinnanbar Field” (Hei Cham Daan Tin). “Stance Training” (Jaat Ma) is one of the most important “Internal Arts” (Noi Gung), ie. can be practiced on various levels by both beginners and advanced students.
Common problem in the Sei Ping Ma stance (and other stances as well) is knee pain. The question is – what is the cause? Joint-by-joint approach tell us to check lower (ankles) or/and higher (hips) and work on their functional mobility and flexibility using various assistance exercises. “Stance Training” is one of the check/re-check assesments of your functional mobility.
Think for a while and check even lower – what shoes are you training in? If you train in modern (and expensive) sport shoes with thick sole, now wonder that your knees or lower back hurt. Throw them away and buy a pair of of shoes with the sole as thin as possible. It will not feel comfortable first few days or weeks, but in the long run it pays off. You will strengthen the arch of the foot and the thin sole will help you with the alingement of the ankles, hips and spine, ie. save your knees and lumbar spine.
The 3 basic stances of Hung Kyun are covered in great detail in our PHK Intro Kit.
Why “Four Level Horse”? Toes forward or not? Thighs parallel? Correct position of the hands? Breathing pattern? “Dead Stance” vs. “Live Stance”? One minute enough, or one hour not enough? Useless, outdated exercise or a treasure?
Don’t throw out the baby with the water. We will examine various misunderstanding, misconceptions, myths, as well as some more advanced subtleties and specific training methodology of the stance trainingin the future articles.
Pavel Macek Sifu, Practical Hung Kyun
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