When you sit down into your horse stance avoid thrusting your knees forward. In particular, you want to make sure not to push your knees forward beyond your toes. As soon as your knees pass in front of your toes your horse stance becomes extremely brittle and weak. When your knees advance past your toes you also put all of the weight of your body into your Infrapatellar Ligament that runs underneath your kneecap, or patella. At first it can seem impossible to lower yourself all the way down without forcing your knees way far forward past your toes. Practicing like this is a bit counterproductive because the form is not correct and in the end you will not acquire a good horse, a strong mobile resilient horse stance and you will instead acquire knee pain. Instead of pushing your knees past your toes for a quick win on getting into a low horse stance, take your time and get a great horse stance instead. Keep your form correct, grip the ground with toes and then sink down and slightly back just as if you were going to sit on a bench. Most people find this to be rather difficult. Traditionally, earning your Horse Stance and all the strength flexibility, stability, and power that goes with is the “Eating Bitter” of Kung Fu.
Because most of us have to endure a fair amount of pain to develop the right combination of strength and flexibility, when you show a good horse stance you earn respect from the old masters. To earning your Horse stance is one of the ways that we strengthen our minds during training. When it hurts and you want to quit if you can keep going your mind is strengthened. Horse stance is brilliant because it allows to strengthen our minds quickly, without waiting too long! Five minutes of standard Horse stance is pretty strong mind for most practitioners because few have achieved a level of conditioning and acclimatization to horse stance that five minutes is easily passed without effort in Horse Stance.
Keeping your feet pointed straight ahead is an important, essential part of a good Horse Stance. This point is usually the first to go out the window. The feet being pointed straight ahead doesn’t seem to be so important. But it is! If your feet turn outward to the corners your hips will become locked and immobile make your horse stance brittle. This also makes it much harder to use your hips to generate power while you are in your Horse Stance. Actually, turning your feet all the way in until they are pointing straight ahead stretches your ankles and shins. It also trains the position you need to use in a hooking foot, a reaping kick, and for ankle locks. These are great techniques that you develop swiftly be correct foot placement during your horse stance.
Keeping your hips tucked and your tail bone pointed straight down grounds your stance. If your hips are tilted in any direction your horse stance is weaker and easier to topple. If your hips are tilted in any direction your lower back is also far more vulnerable to injury, and if you are exerting force or are grappling or pushing. To tilt your pelvis slightly forward and level your pelvis and open your lower back you need to engage your lower abdominal muscles and pull your hips forward. If your lower back is tight this might difficult to do. Use deep breathing to relax your lower back. Use some strength to pull your hips forward into the correct position if necessary, and then once you are in the correct position relax into it with deep breathing and learn how to hold that position in an increasingly relaxed position. Ideally, your hips and lower back will be mobile but integrated and strong.
Keeping your chest and head up looks better and feels heroic compared to tilting forward and looking down. With your upper body maintain the best posture you can and relax deeply with collapsing. Breathe deep into the center of your body to gather and absorb Qi as you inhale and relax, realign, and rebalance as you exhale.
Last Pro Tip: “Smile”
Keep your Horse Stance Low and Your Mind Strong! Have a great workout today!