The Cat Stance or Neko Ashi Dachi is one of the most versatile stances in Budo. Though an odd looking stance it provides the ability to remain light on your feet and the possibility to move quickly. As the name suggest, the animal form is the cat and the practitioner should keep in mind the nature of the cat when using this stance. That is, this stance is used to spring forward quickly in the same fashion that a cat jumps at its prey.
The left cat stance is formed by stepping the right foot one foot back from the starting position of the Natural stance. After moving the right leg back, turn the foot slightly clockwise out 45 degrees in order to provide yourself with better balance. Bend you right knee so that 90% of your weight is on that leg. The left foot reaches out forward and is placed on the ground using the ball of the foot. It is important to use the ball of the foot and not the base of the foot. Only very light downward pressure is placed on the floor using the left leg. The benefit of this manoeuvre is in case your opponent tries to sweep your lead leg there is very little weight pressing on it and thus if it is swept little damage is done. The leg can easily avoid the sweep.
Further, this stance provides excellent balance for use of the front snap kick as a jabbing technique to help keep the opponent at bay. Since there is little weight being exerted on the left front leg it can be quickly brought into service and the jab or snap kick can be deployed using the ball of the foot as the weapon.
The diagram below shows the placement of the feet from an overhead view when using this stance.
In forming the Cat Stance:
- Begin from a Natural Stance and step the right foot 1 foot back, (approx. 30 centimetres).
- Turn the right foot clockwise so that the toes point out in a 45 degree direction toward NE
- Sit 90% of your body weight onto your right leg, lower your body by at least 1.5 feet.
- Rest your left foot using the ball of the foot on the ground approximately 2 feet out.
- Take a middle guard open hand position.
Techniques that can be performed from the Cat Stance are many. As mentioned, you may use the jab or front kick, front punch, twist punch, roundhouse and back roundhouse.
The Cat Stance also has another benefit as it provides the martial artist with a walking form known as the Cat Step. This stepping form is used by martial artist in order to shorten the distance between themselves and their adversary. The step is smooth and quick very much like the movement of the cat from where it takes its name. The Cat Step is covered further in the Basics Manual in Section N. It is important to note that many martial artists have developed personal fighting styles using the Cat stance and Cat Step extensively either in a pure or modified form.