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Kiba Dachi, the Roman art of Karate


Kiba_DachiKiba-dachi, the Roman art of Karate:

After ZenKutsu Dachi et Kokutsu Dachi, Kiba dachi is the third fundamental stance in karate, but this time the weight of the body is not on the front leg or on the back leg, but also distributed between the two and laterally.

Kiba Dachi is the rider stance or horse stance (It is sometimes called Tekki - Iron Rider) because it gives the impression of a rider sitting on his horse.

This is a very simple stance and yet it is often feared by many practitioners because it makes sore thighs

But rest assured, we will study together how to minimize these tensions in the thighs.

We talk too often Kiba Dachi as a position of "strength" where it is normal to have pain and where everything goes in the head. If it is true that Kiba Dachi during a certain time is problematic and painful, it is also true for other stances. But as Kiba Dachi, think a little about the exercise of the chair is often thought that it is normal to have pain everywhere.

But that's not true, you have to do Kiba Dachi being as relaxed as possible. You do not have to use your musculature to balance, but place your body so that it is in support on the feet without having to fight against any imbalance.

The vault semicircular:

I think you have to imagine the body a bit like a complete building: When I do Kiba DachiI imagine my bust on a solid foundation formed by my pelvis and my legs.

The problem is how to make the pedestal solid using the minimum of muscular strength, how should I place myself so that the forces generated by the weight of my body go down in my legs vertically and not be dispersed in other directions.

Reply : Remember your history classes and the fundamental principle of Romanesque art and the semicircular vault. Well, for me the legs and pelvis in Kiba Dachi have to form a semicircular arch.Animation: Principle of a vault

Before continuing, I would like to show you a little animation that I found on an architecture site and that summarizes very well what I'm trying to explain:

Just click here or on the image opposite to launch the animation.

In fact you must be like a statue on a triumphal arch 😉

If we draw a parallel with our stance Kiba Dachiwe shall say that the basin represents the keystone, and the legs to the feet, the vault itself. It is necessary to try to form the most perfect vault possible so that the forces descend in feet vertically.

If we compare with the animation, the problem was at the joints of the claveaux. In our case, it will be the joints that will pose a problem and this is where the musculature will work a little to reorient the forces in directions of the following segment:

> at the level of the hip, the vertical force of the upper body must be redirected towards the femurs

> at the knees, the force must be redirected towards the shins

> and at the ankles the force must be redirected vertically in the direction of the arch.

So when you face, your legs and your pelvis must form a vault.

Then, you maintain a slight pressure on the adductors to not let the forces go outward at each joint.

If your vault is perfect, you have very little tension to maintain for the forces to descend in the right direction.

Think Kiba Dachi is the rider's stance, imagine the horse between your legs and feet in the stirrups and you should form a beautiful vault.

Kiba Dachi's ProfileKiba Dachi profile :

If we look in profile, it's another story. There, the stability of the stance is preserved if the center of gravity falls on an axis passing by the soles of feet. In fact inside the polygon of levitation (surface bounded by your feet!)

The upper body is perfectly straight and resting on the pool which stays flat and the legs are bent and form a solid whole.

The calves and quads are slightly contracted to maintain the stance. It is this contraction that ends up creating pain if the stance is maintained too long.

But if in addition, your center of gravity is slightly off, you lose the natural balance and will have to fight against this imbalance and contract your legs even more:

If it is too forward, you will have to press your calves to maintain balance and if it is backwards, it is your quadriceps who will have to maintain balance.

It is therefore necessary to ensure the proper placement of this center of gravity to have only the vertical force of your weight to bear and not horizontal forces due to imbalances.

So yes, Kiba Dachi makes the thighs work, but if you are perfectly placed in both planes as we have just seen, you will have already considerably reduced these contractions.

The feet must be parallel:

In Kiba Dachi, unlike Shiko Dachi (the Sumo stance!) The feet are parallel.

This seems to be a serious problem at the knee level. Indeed, the knees are oriented to the outside while the feet, being parallel, are oriented inward.

However, we had already spoken about it in the study of Zenkutsu Dachi, the knee does not have the rotation function. So this difference in orientation between the knee and the foot may create more or less significant tension in the knee.

Knee rotation : We always say that the knee does not have this function. However, the rotation of the knee is still possible but moderately and only in flexion. In fact when the knee is flexed to 90 °, it is able to rotate in the order of 20 ° internally and 30 ° externally. But in Kiba Dachi, we are in this case, the knees are bent and the feet go inside (internal rotation of the knee).

So this difference in orientation, if it is well controlled, is not especially bad. On the other hand, where to pay attention is in the direction of the forces. It will be necessary to keep the pelvis flat, open the thighs to the maximum while maintaining a tension in the adductors to not let the forces go outward and create tension in the knees and ankles.

You need to have the feeling of "Squeeze" your feet into the ground. Be careful the pressure is vertical, do not exaggerate the flexion of the ankle by pushing outwards. You must feel your supports well under the feet and not on the outer edges.

All this is not very easy to explain in writing, I will try to enlighten you in the video.

Shiko Dachi or Kiba Dachi:

I remember that Shiko Dachi is the Sumo stance. This is essentially the same stance as Kiba Dachi but the feet are open instead of parallel.

I often hear that Shiko Dachi is better than Kiba Dachi, but that's a mistake because in fact each stance does not have the same utility :

> Kiba Dachi is basically done to move and develop strength on one side or the other, to make Yoko Geri for example.

> While Shiko Dachi is done to develop forward force by pushing on both legs and not laterally. Sumo wrestlers face each other

So yes in karate, we have Kiba Dachi is no it's not a bad stance physiologically but if you control it well and go gradually.

Do not go too low at first if you can not keep your bust straight, your pelvis flat and channel the forces vertically. Do this gradually.

But anyway, this is not an exaggeratedly low stance: Remember, you must form a vault and not a rectangle with the thighs parallel to the ground. It's beautiful, but it's not Kiba Dachi.

I believe that as for any stance, the important thing is the harmony: It should not be too low, or too high, too far apart, or too tight and especially that the upper body is vertical and transmits the l energy vertically in the basin.

That's it, I'm not going to expand on this stance that is often controversial. I invite you to join me on the video. I promise you a meeting of Kiba Dachi, without pain

Do not forget your warm ups by downloading the ABC of warm-ups.

>>> Download the video

Here I hope that the exercises have more and that you feel a little better your Kiba Dachi.

Tips: Stretch your quadriceps gently for 1 minutes each and I advise you tomorrow or after tomorrow to do a full session of specific stretching for the hips.

See you soon, Bruno

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  1. just a small correction to this very interesting article. . shiko dachi is not for the exclusive use of sumo but it fully belongs to the technical heritage of karate.
    it is found in shito-ryu and in okinawa styles.

    • Hello Save-Ryu,

      You're absolutely right, Shiko Dachi is also part of Karateka's heritage, and I did not claim it was for the exclusive use of sumo.
      It's just that "The position of the Sumotori"This is the name given to it, as the name of "rider's position" is given to Kiba-Dachi. Yet it is not for the exclusive use of riders 😉

      But you were right to clarify because my article could have been confusing.

  2. Bonjour,

    to my knowledge, the monks of shaolin go down so low for the sake of mimicry. Almost all of their techniques derive from the study of animal behavior and its copy. Apart from these mimetic techniques, I noticed that they did not go down so low. On the other hand, they train to stay in this position for a long time. The meal time for example is a good excuse to stay in kiba-dachi without wasting time. (They are crazy these shaolin!)

    As for me, I always feel an uncomfortable tension in the ankles in this position and even when I muscularly counteract the lateral pressure induced by the weight of the body (I do not think it should be done, it's exhausting !). Is it a problem of flexibility / bodybuilding or poor positioning?

  3. Hello everyone
    An important point of view on the ranking of Kiba d'achi
    In my opinion it is the posture n ° 1,
    The base of various position
    - in Kiba there is the zen kustu interval of fudo kokutsu etc.
    - The positioning of the body centered neither on the front nor on the back one or the other will immediately cause a front and rear imbalance which forces us to an automatic placement
    - just swivel on the Kochi's right foot or left foot and find the perfect kokutsu
    - just swivel on the heel of the right foot or left foot and we find the perfect Zen (interval foot before foot back distance foot before foot back)
    Try !!!
    Good practice

    • Hello Dominique,

      Actually your analysis places KibaDachi in 1er position. However, I noted 3th position because it is generally the 3ème that we learn but in reality, for me, there is no "ranking" possible because each position has a different roles: ZenKutsu for attack, Kokutsu for defense, Kibadachi for side techniques (although of course we can use them all in defense, on offense or on the side).

      From there, we can not rank the positions in order of priority, but that remains my opinion.


  4. Hello Bruno,
    Interesting comparison between the vault, its key, and "Kiba Dachi", you're right to insist on the precautions to take, when the patella is very detailed.
    Good luck, and have a good day.

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