Horse Stance Notes

Purpose: to practice upper-body movements in isolation

While not exclusively a hand focused system, American Kenpo relies on a wide variety of hand/elbow strikes and defensive arm movements to accomplish objectives.

Working movements in isolation helps the practitioner understand the movements and develop coordination.

A Good Horse Stance

  • Feet are a foot-width or two more than shoulder-width apart
  • Toes are pointed forward or slightly toed in
    • Your weight should be shifted forward slightly onto the balls of your feet
    • There should be just enough room under your heels to slide a piece of paper under them
  • Knees are bent and pushed out
    • You should feel the outside of your quads engaging
  • Tuck the butt underneath the spine
    • Think of curling the pelvis forward
  • Pull the shoulders back
  • Head should be stacked above the shoulders
    • Drop your chin slightly
  • Pull the fists back into the chamber palm-up
    • The chamber can be one of two positions: by the hips or the floating ribs



  • Same overall position as the Horse Stance
  • But bring your hands up into a shield and hammer in front of you mouth/nose
    • The right hand is a fist
    • The left hand covers the fist
  • Let your elbows relax and hang next to your ribs

Symbolism of the Hammer and Shield

  • The hammer represents the warrior
  • The shield represents the scholar
  • The warrior and the scholar are the two parts of the martial artist
    • The warrior knows “how”
    • The scholar knows “why”
  • The shield covering the hammer represents the scholar directing the warrior
  • Placing the hammer and shield in front of the mouth means to think before you speak or act

Fighting Horse

The fighting horse is a very defensible stance, the width zone is completely obstructed and the lead hand covers the head and ribs. The down side is that the body must be re-positioned or the rear weapons must move around around the lead weapons in order to be used.

  • The same foot/leg position as a horse stance
  • The hands are in a guard position
  • The opponent is directly to the side

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