The deep traditional stances that we use in our daily lessons while training at Kowkabany’s Family Martial Arts center in Tampa, Florida have been prevalent in martial arts (karate, taekwondo, kung fu, etc.) for thousands of years! Long before you could drive down the street to a local gym filled with high-tech machines and personal trainers, martial arts practitioners understoood the need to develop power in their legs for explosive kicking and for balance, as well as strength in their core. In general, leg strength and stances should be part of every regular lesson, even your training at home. For competitors, the quality of your stances will make a big impact when you compete in forms competition. Most of these stances were not designed for actual fighting, they were utilized to improve the student’s physical fitness, as well as to improve the individual’s focus and concentration. The basic front stance, found in karate as well as in taekwondo, is typically one of the first stances taught to a beginner student. This is a simple technique that is easy to practice at home, and the only way to truly master this stance is to consistently practice. Remember, practice does NOT make perfect… Perfect practice makes perfect! To work on this stance, we suggest that you imagine your feet are on train tracks, about shoulder width apart. One of the common problems with beginners is that the width of the stance is simply too narrow. The second aspect of the perfect front stance is to make the stance long (front to back). To accomplish this, you will want to make sure that the back leg is perfectly straight with the knee locked out, and the front knee should be bent enough that you can barely see your front toes. As these stances are used in forms and traditional training, you should also be aware that your shoulders are “squared” (the shoulders are even, with neither shoulder more forward than the other). For beginners, we suggest that you simply practice this stance in place until it feels comfortable, and then practice stepping forward and back. Practicing in front of a mirror is a big help! As this feels better, start practicing with a front punch (punching the front hand) as you step, and the next step would be practicing with a reverse punch (as shown in the picture). Ideally, your punch should land at the same time your foot lands in the stance. In the American Taekwondo Association, we name our stances based on the “weight shift,” so with this stance, you should definitely feel more of the weight pressing into your front leg than resting on your back leg. As with any practice at home, it is always important to attend regular classes so that your Ceritifed Instructors can review your technique to fix anything that isn’t 100% perfect.