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The Tai Chi Netguide 
a full and comprehensive online step-by-step guides to the Yang Forms and warm-ups

common stances

The horse, forward, heel, crane, cat and cross stances are the most common leg stances used throughout the form. Getting used to them makes it easier to concentrate on the other components of a move as you learn the form. They are also very good to do on their own as excersises to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles.
 

high horse front high horse side high horse perpendular

High Horse/Wu Chi Stance

The High Horse stance is sometimes called the Wu Chi position, or the Beginning stance because is it used for the Beginning move, and also is repeated at close down.

It is a relaxed stance, with the legs parallel, slightly wider than the shoulders, knees slightly bent, so that they are above the toes. Your centre of gravity should be directly down the middle of your body in perfect balance. Keep the back straight, with the lower back pushed in, and sink down gently into it.


low horse

Low Horse Stance

This is the lower version of the one above, with your legs slightly wider apart, and your body sunk much lower.

This stance is not common in the Yang form, but is an excellent excersise for strengthening your legs: try standing in a low horse stance for two minutes - you'll feel it! Gradually build up the length of time that you stand.

forward front forward side forward perpendicular

Forward Stance

This is used a lot during the form, grasp the sparrows tail and brush knee being just a couple of examples. This is done with both right and left feet at different times.

Start with your foot forward, with the knee bent so that the lower leg is perpendicular to the floor, and the other leg is outstretched at the back - but do not lock the knee. Your front foot should be straight forward, and your back foot out at a 45 degree angle (although the pics show it straight - my mistake!) The feet should be aligned so that the front foot's heel is in line with the heel of the back foot.

Your back should still be straight, and your weight should be divided evenly over both legs. As an excersise, stand in a left forward stance for a couple of minutes, and then repeat with a right forward stance. You should feel your calf muscles stretch.

heel Heel Stance

This is also a very common stance during the form.

Bring one leg forward, straightened but without the knee locked, with the heel of your foot touching the floor and toes pointing upwards. Your weight should be mostly on your back leg and hip, leaving the front leg 'open'. The back knee should be bent outwards, with your back foot at a 45 degree angle outwards, too. The heels of both feet should be in line, and your hips hould be turned at a 45 degree angle outwards.

As an excersise, repeat this on both sides for a couple of minutes each.

cat Cat stance

This is similar to the heel stance, but this time the open front leg is brought in to the body. With most of your weight on your back leg and hip, knee and foot outwards, your front leg should be forwards, but this time the knee is bent back towards the body, with the toes pointing down, either resting on the ground or hanging just above it. The heels of both feet should be aligned, and your hip should be turned forward.

To strengthen the legs, hold this stance on either side for a couple of minutes each.

crane front crane side

Crane stance

Most crane stances that are in the form use the left leg forward. With your body facing forwards, lift your left knee up so that it is level with your hips, and sink down slightly so that your right knee is bent. Your raised left foot shoud be pulled back almost to the inside of your right knee, with the toes pointed towards the floor. Your back should be straight.

As an excersise, hold this position for a couple of minutes, and then switch legs.

cross back cross front

Cross stance

This is classically used during step forward, parry & punch. Cross your right foot in front of your left one, with your right foot pointing out to the right, perpendicular to your left foot. Ideally the heel of your right foot should be in line with the toes of your left.

Bring your weight forward into your right leg, and twist your upper body to the right and sink down slightly - this should enable your legs to twist, resulting in your left knee almost nestling inside the back of your right knee.

As an excersise try this for both legs.

 

 

 
The horse, forward, heel, crane, cat and cross stances are the most common leg stances used throughout the form. Getting used to them makes it easier to concentrate on the other components of a move as you learn the form. They are also very good to do on their own as excersises to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles. 
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