Empty Stance Pointers

In contemporary wushu, when someone says get into a cat stance, this means you basically get into a stance in which the rear leg handles the grunt of the weight and only the tip toe of the forward leg touches the ground. The true test of this is to then be able to easily lift your front leg without shifting side-to-side or adjusting the height. Quite a difficult feat to maintain such a stance with stability on the rear leg.

What about in taiji? Is the same held true for taiji? One of the things I got drilled into me while training in chen is that when you do a “cat stance” or a “toe stance” aka “Empty Stance”, it really means that, you put all your weight onto the bearing leg and then put the tip toe of the other leg to the ground. The tip toe, not the area from the ball of the feet to the toe (what I had done in the past).  This type of stance is commonly found in chen forms at the end of the the 6 Sealings 4 Closings posture in which you do a “push” and the weight is on the right leg and only the tip toe of the left foot touches the ground.

Since I used to keep the left leg settled on the area between the ball of the foot and the toe, I was cheating. I’d say that I could have easily had 20% of my weight on that leg even though it was supposed to be an empty stance. So, what happened after I made this switch to being on the tip toe? I often found that my hip jutted out beyond the frame of my body, that is, the plane of my outer hip extended beyond the plane created by the outer edge of my foot.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? I think so, b/c over time I started to realize the weight was getting locked in my hip and not being able to fully transfer to the ground.  After the slight adjustment, I felt the burn in my thigh and knew the weight was now being transferred into the “weight bearing” leg and not being stuck in my hip.

[tags]taiji, training, tips, hip, stance[/tags]


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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11 Responses to Empty Stance Pointers

  1. ZMS says:

    hey wujimon, here’s a challenge for you – when in cat stance or back stance where 60/70% weight is on rear leg, can you easily lift the rear leg without disturbing the stance?

  2. wujimon says:

    Hey ZMS.
    I think you’re alluding to the idea of being able to completely shift the weight/intention mentally instead of physically.

    I’ve often heard stories of the chen master Feng Zhiqiang being able to fully shift his weight from one side to the next while standing with feet parallel, unknowinging to the external observer.

    In my own practice, I must admit the answer is no. I just tried and I am not able to do that physically nor mentally. Mind-wise, it’s like a hard barrier that defies common logic that must be addressed and tore down.

    Definitely something to keep in the mind… πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  3. Cindy says:

    In simplified and mixed forms, I have learned 60/40, 70/30 or 80/20 ratio between the support leg and the forward leg. I think it is stable and easy to move to the next step.

  4. wujimon says:

    Hi Cindy.

    What about for stances like “White Crane Spreads Wings”, is that an 80/20 mix?

    I may be overgeneralizing, but most of my stancework is now either 70/30 or 100/0.

  5. ZMS says:

    is there really a weight shift or mind shift of the substantial vs insubstantial? πŸ™‚

  6. wujimon says:

    Hey ZMS.
    I think it’s a matter of perspective since everything originates with the mind.

  7. ZMS says:

    hey wujimon, not matter of perspective. matter of command. mind commands, body follows = intention comes first πŸ™‚ so kill buddha when you see him on the road and you may yet attainment enlightenment πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  8. cindy says:

    I just had my questions answered today from my teacher. What is the body distribution between the rear leg and the front leg in “White Crane Spreads Its Wings”? My teacher told me, the ratio is 70/30. What about “Play the Lute”? He said 60/40. I then did a practice on him for the “White Crane Spreads Its Wings” posture. He asked me to pull his left arm using my left hand and exerting the force upward using my right arm from under his left arm. It was quite an experience. I think the ratio is the result of force exertion, posture and maybe the need for the next move. They are just references but not need to be accurately measured.

  9. wujimon says:

    Hi Cindy. Do you then believe if your teacher had not given that much force, you could have done the same application with only a 60/40 ratio in white crane spread wings?

    I personally feel there is an optimal weight distribution for any given posture in taiji. The hard part is to try and find that optimal point. Whether or not it’s always optimal, given force or not, is an entirely other question πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing your feedback and comments from your instructor!

  10. cindy says:

    I don’t know how to answer your question about 60/40 because I have no experience at all for fighting πŸ™‚ I agree with your thought about the optimal weight distribution though. The question is under what conditions, pre- and post- and your intention.

  11. wujimon says:

    Hi Cindy. Though I don’t do taiji primarily for the martial aspect, I often go back to martial principles in order to evaluate concepts. Maybe I have a disconnect.. πŸ™‚

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