Open Defensive Stance

Open Defensive Stance or Sotobriaki Jigotai Dachi and Horse Stance are essentially the same stance.

This stance has a peculiar name as the definition of open and defensive do not seem to go together. However, defensive in this particular stance refers to the positioning of the body as opposed to the positioning of the legs. That is, as the torso is lowered the student’s center of gravity is also lowered and this is primarily a defensive initiative. This stance also has an animal name equivalent which is The Horse Stance. The horse stance gets its name from the Samurai who rode horses into battle. The position on the horse is mimicked on the ground. The stance is a very strong stance and it is important to make sure that the body position is always very low. One of the most common mistakes that is made is to keep a body position that is too high. If that is done than the primary benefit of this stance is lost.

A mind set to keep when performing this stance is that of an immovable object like a mountain. This is the defensive nature of this stance. Because of this, this stance is not a very flexible stance in so far as it takes time to move out of this stance because it is performed in such a low position. Nevertheless, this stance has become a favourite stance of many martial artists and is used extensively in some styles.

To perform the Open Defensive Stance begin with the Closed Defensive Stance and pivot on the heels of the foot thus pointing the toes out onto a 45 degree angle. Flex the knees deeply with a straight back. Place the hands on the inside of the thighs, palms out.

  1. Take a Closed Defensive Stance.
  2. Pivot on the heels and point the toes out and away at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Maintain 50% of the weight on each leg.
  4. Keep the body position low and the back straight. (Do not lean forward)
  5. Place the hands on the inside of the thighs with the palms facing outward.
  6. Look straight ahead.

Open Defensive Stance

Open Defensive Stance

Open Defensive Stance

In a fighting situation this stance would be turned so that either the right or left leg faces the opponent on the edge. This minimizes the profile that you have as the target. When executing the Horse Stance simply move the Open Defensive Stance 45 degrees either to the left or right. This is accomplished by dropping one leg back to either the South-East or South-West. Turn your upper torso toward the opponent and keep a middle guard. The diagram below shows the appropriate position of the feet and body when looked at from above.

Open Defensive Stance

Open Defensive Stance

In the photo above, Sensei Kukura is demonstrating the correct posture for the Horse Stance. He is assuming a closed fist middle guard. Below, Sensei Kukura is demonstrating the Hasso Kamae or versatile guard positioning that is taken directly from the body position of a swordsman when at the ready.

Open Defensive Stance

Sensei Kukura demonstrating the Hasso Kamae or Versatile Guard in the Horse stance.

Open Defensive Stance

Sensei Kukura demonstrating the origination of the Hasso Kamae or Versatile Guard.

As mentioned, the Horse Stance is a favourite stance of many martial artists. The primary attack from this stance is that of a twist punch or a lunging punch from the back hand. Though the low posture of the stance makes it difficult to follow with high kicks, the side kick may be used as a primary defensive or offensive kick from this stance. When used correctly the side kick from this stance is one of Budo’s most powerful and devastating techniques which might account for the stance’s popularity. The negative side is that the kick usually takes some time to perform and can often be telegraphed by the attacker before it is thrown. That is, the planned technique becomes so apparent that the defender sees it coming long before it is thrown. This tends to limit the effectiveness of this combination of moves especially against an experienced martial artist.