Upon beginning Karate training, the beginner is first taught how to stand naturally with both feet shoulders width apart with the toes pointed outward very slightly making up what is called open leg natural stance (hachi-dachi). This standing position is one of the natural stances and is the most common natural stance in Karate. From that stance, arm techniques
are learnt. While learning front snap kick, the legs are most often brought closely together making up what is called parallel leg stance or informal stance (heisoku-dachi). Following these the front stance (zenkutsu-dachi), the back stance (kokutsu-dachi) and the straddle-leg stance (kiba-dachi) are learnt.
Occasionally a beginner may question the importance of stances. The natural stances are not as easy as they may seem at first, and the other stances can be quite challenging, as they use muscles in the legs that may have not been previously used much before beginning Karate training. However, stances are the foundation of Karate techniques.
Without a proper stance (any stance) the use of the other body parts will not be proficient, nor successful, nor effective. In addition, moving from stance to stance and from one stance to another stance is an additional challenge to learn and continue to practice throughout one's training.
It is interesting to note that in the Heian katas, new stances and new leg movements are introduced per each kata.
Heian Shodan - A new kata completely for the beginner, therefore all turning movements and changing from one type of stance to another type of stance (e.g. movement 17 going into movement 18) are new.
Heian Nidan - The use of tsugi-ashi (half step) from movement 6 going into movement 7
Heian Sandan - Heisoku-dachi (parallel leg stance or informal stance) Fumikomi-geri (stamping kick), Kiba-dachi (straddle-leg stance) and Yori-ashi (sliding step)
Heian Yondan - Kosa-dachi (cross leg stance)
Heian Godan - Reinoji-dachi (L stance)
With more advanced kata, some kata are named after the prominent stance in the kata. For example, Hangetsu (featuring Hangetsu-dachi- half moon stance),
Sochin (featuring Fudo-dachi, also known as Sochin dachi - diagonal straddle-leg stance, or rooted stance)
Other advanced kata include stances such as:
Neko ashi-dachi (cat stance)
Sanchin-dachi (hourglass stance)
Sagi ashi-dachi (one legged stance)
Ashi yorishiku (leg kneeling, which is technically not classified as an actual stance, but is a one legged kneeling position as in movement 1 of the kata Empi)
It is also interesting to note that in Shotokan Karate, there are no kata which include shiko-dachi (square stance), yet this stance is prominent of the kata other styles such as Shito-Ryu and Goju-Ryu.
While possibly occasionally taken for granted at any level of one's training, they must never be and they should always be improved upon and studied more deeply and thoroughly.
The History of Karate: Okinawan Goju-Ryu - Morio Higaonna
Dynamic Karate - Masatoshi Nakayama
Best Karate 5 - Masatoshi Nakayama
Best Karate 6 - Masatoshi Nakayama
Best Karate 7 - Masatoshi Nakayama
Best Karate 8 - Masatoshi Nakayama
Best Karate 9 - Masatoshi Nakayama
Best Karate 10 - Masatoshi Nakayama
Best Karate 11 - Masatoshi Nakayama
The Textbook Of Modern Karate - Teruyuki Okazaki