I have been thinking about whether or not the karate stances are actually a good way to practice movement. When I look at them I increasingly feel that the stances are likely to have been altered over time and they increasingly no longer perform the function for which they were intended.
For instance can anyone explain to me the purpose of Sanchin Dachi? What function does it serve / what situation would you use it in?
The argument in favour of sanchin dachi seems to be that it makes you more stable and mobile. My problem with this seems to be simply untrue. The stance encourages you internally rotate your hips which must cause instability. The internally rotated hips also cause you to drop your knees and stick your butt out. This is just not a strong position as it encourages you to disengage your core. In fact people who have naturally internally rotated hips are literally given disability allowance in the UK, so I have not idea why we are choosing to adopt this position.
Now some people can make this position strong through practice but this does not mean it is in any way optimal. When making themselves strong in this position they usually make themselves completely immobile.
The arm movements in kata suggest that the stance is used close in for grappling but grapplers would not lock the legs in the way we typically practice it in karate.
Is the move intended to symbolise something or is it working on strength or similar? To be honest I don’t see the value in the stance the way it is typically practiced.
I am also not a fan of zenkutsu dachi. To my mind we are actually practicing over striding. This creates instability and means we are not in an optimal position to throw strikes. There are limited situations where this is useful. For instance when some one pushes you and you are seeking to step back stabilise yourself against their forward pressure. But this stance is often used when practicing striking. People march forward up and down their dojo in the stance and then throw their strikes. Why? You are much more stable if you take a normal size step forward. You can throw your strikes much more effectively from a shorter stance a natural step in length.
When you step forward you are using your ankle as a leaver. Yet in some styles put all their weight on the forward leg and push their knee forward before moving. This means you can not use the ankle in the way it is designed and so you end up having to do a convoluted contraction and expansion to move forward.
Again I am not denying some people can through practice do this in a strong powerful way – but this does not mean it is optimal. To my mind these stances are actually suboptimal ways of moving and this is shown by the fact people pretty much abandon them as soon as they start sparring.
Any thoughts on this are welcome.