“Nekoashi Dachi” is an important stance in the “Kihon” and “Kata” of Shitoryu Karatedo. More often than not, because of its unique posture, beginners find it difficult to master the stance. However, once students grasp the key points of the stance and put in efforts, they would be able to perform the stance in the correct manner, and would appreciate the beauty of the stance. To do this, students have to get themselves familiar with the following 12 points of know-how of “Nekoashi Dachi”; remember, more practice, more perfection, be it at home or in the dojo, until you can master the skills with great confidence. When “Nekoashi Dachi” is performed with excellent body techniques, it would become an art in itself.
1. Bend both knees and lower your body. Shift not less than 80% of your body weight to your back leg, which is the “Support Leg”, and leave not more than 20% of your body weight on your front leg.
2. When you are in this ready position, you can check if the distance between your two feet is correct with this simple method: Lower your body so much so that the knee of your Support Leg should be touching the ground beside the big toe of your front foot, so that they align with each other and fall on the same straight horizontal line.
3. Points to notice about the front leg: Make sure the knee and the toes are square and facing forward (at “12 o’clock”), avoid letting them loose or twist to sideways. The thigh should be forming an angle of not more than 45 degrees to the ground; the ball of the foot near the big toe should be resting on the ground upright, not twisting sideways; the heel should be well-supported up high; the shin and the instep are vertical to the ground.
4. Points to notice about the Support Leg: The toes are pointing sideway 45 degrees or less from the front; knee should be bending, but be careful that the knee would not lean outward, but also not excessively inward.
5. The big toe of the front foot and heel of Support Leg should fall on the same straight line pointing forward.
6. Put the buttock above your Support Leg outward, so that muscles of the leg are tightened to provide strong support to the upper body.
7. Apply a little pressure to the ankle of your front leg so that it’s slightly forward; this should result in a stable and upright posture of your leg.
8. Keep your waist, back, chest and neck in an upright posture, and relax your shoulders.
9. Twist your upper body naturally sideway according to the requirement of the techniques; do not twist excessively as your posture would then become stiff and unnatural.
10. When advancing with “De-ashi”, relax the heel of your front leg so that it touches the ground first; however, instead of landing immediately on the spot right below the heel, you should turn your toes outward first so that the toes are pointing sideway 45 degrees or less from the front. After that, you should shift your body weight gradually from the Support Leg to the front leg until you can naturally bring your back leg one step forward with only the ball of the toe touching the ground, advancing along a straight line forward. Keep your body upright and maintain your body height during the whole advancement. Reverse the procedures when stepping backward.
11. When advancing with “Yori-ashi”, uplift your front leg first, and at the same time, shift your body weight forward. Then bring your front leg one step forward with the heel touching the ground first for just one second, and immediately lift it up when the ball and the toes make contact to the ground so that it resumes the same form as it is before the advancement. While you are uplifting your front heel, your back leg also follows the advancement by stepping forward and remaining the same distance with the front leg as it was before the advancement. In the whole advancement process, keep your upper body upright and maintain your body height. When moving backward, firstly lower your front heel on the ground and apply backward pushing pressure on the foot, then with this pressure step back with the “Strong Leg”, and finally bring your front leg backward.
12. When changing direction, usually move your front leg first and then turn your back leg. Sometimes the “Strong Leg” will be swapped according to the requirement of the technique.