Karate Stances – Japanese Terms

“Dachi” or “Tachi” means stance in Japanese, and describes primarily the position of the feet in various Karate stances.¬†Stances are very important in delivering power and also quick responses in various situations¬†and are thus emphasis in Kihon (basic training). Strong stances can give a smaller person a significant advantage over a larger attacker.

Stances – Dachi

Bensoku dachi Turning cross leg stance
Fudo dachi Free stance
Hachiji dachi Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart toes slightly pointed out)
Han zenkutsu dachi Half front stance (Short Zenkutsu dachi)
Hachiji dachi Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart toes slightly pointed out)
Heiko dachi Parallel stance (feet shoulder width apart)
Heisoku dachi Closed foot stance (feet together)
Kiba dachi Horse riding stance (feet parallel)
Kokutsu dachi Back stance
Musubi dachi Formal attention stance (feet together)
Neko ashi dachi Cat stance
Renoji dachi The letter L stance
Sanchin dachi Hourglass stance
Sesan dachi Side facing straddle stance
Shiko dachi Straddle leg stance (horse stance feet at 45 degrees)
Zenkutsu dachi Front stance


Fighting Postures – Kamae

The fighting postures (Kamae, sometimes also “Kame”) include the position of the arms and legs as well as the body angle and center of gravity. For example, Gedan No Kame is a
lower level fighting posture, with the legs in Shiko Dachi (thus the centre of gravity quite low), body angled at 45 (or even 90 degrees) and the arms
ready to respond to lower and middle level attacks.

Gedan no kamae Lower level fighting posture
Chudan no kamae Middle level fighting posture
Hanmi no kamae Half forward facing fighting posture
Jodan no kamae Upper level fighting posture
Kame Fighting posture
Morote no kamae Augmented hand fighting posture
Shizen dachi no kamae Natural fighting posture