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Zenkutsu Dachi - Stance on the front leg


Zenkutsu Dachi, position on the front legZenkutsu dachi is the stance that we think about first when we talk about Shotokan Karate.

Moreover, in Shotokan at least, the first is taught and is most commonly used, in the basic kata (Taikyoku, Heian), in the Kihon Ippon Kumite (or Sambon, Gohon), Ippon Kumite, etc.

Zenkutsu Dachi - Of Zen = front, Kutsu = folded et Dachi = Stance - means stance with folded front leg. It is a very stable stance with the weight of the body at 70% on the front leg. This is in principle a so-called forward attack stance (Ayumi Ashi), but which can also be used in retreating (Iki Ashi) during a defensive phase.

Decomposition of Zenkutsu Dachi:

Zenkutsu Dachi looks, but by far, a slot before (it reminds us of our gym class at school ;-)):

You position yourself in support on the front leg (about 70% of the body weight). The front leg is bent with the knees perpendicular to the toes (you must not see your toes). The back leg is stretched. Warning, I put a little flat about this tension; it should not be exaggerated because it is done by a contraction of the quadriceps (very powerful muscle in front of the thigh) which may cause you to tilt the pelvis forward (anteversion). This rocker basin will have the effect of arching your lower back which is not good at all for your lumbar vertebrae. In fact your pelvis must remain flat and relaxed to be able to tilt when the time comes forwards, the back where the sides when you decide it according to the technique you want to do. It will not be necessary to "force" on the tension of the leg.

For the leg to stretch more easily, it will be necessary to specific stretching exercises quadriceps and psoas-iliac (deep muscle of the groin that serves to lift the knees) to gain on the flexibility of the hips, but it is not an absolute necessity.

The back foot should be facing forward. If you let your foot turn back or even 90 ° as you often see, you will not be able to engage your hip forward to maintain pressure on the front leg. Indeed, neither the knee nor the ankle have the function of rotation, so you can not have the hip forward and the foot back without risking to create too strong torsions in the knee. So that the hip looks in front, it is necessary that the toes look in front if not beware of ligaments crossed! 🙁

Your two feet are facing forward and are almost parallel. In fact it is the external stop of the front foot that is parallel to the inner stop of the back foot, so that the feet seem slightly open.

You maintain a strength inside the thighss by contracting slightly (but firmly!) the adductors (muscles inside the thighs) to keep a solid connection between the two legs for the passage of energy to the ground.

If we look at you from the front, when you are in Zenkutsu Dachi, your feet are spread about the width of your shoulders. Do not put them on one line, you would not have balance, as if you were walking on a wire.

The upper body should stay upright. Right attention does not mean tense. As usual the shoulders are relaxed and low, we just keep a force under the armpits to lower the shoulders.

The pelvis is flat, and the vertebrae are simply stacked one above the other, without being leaning forward or backward or to one side. We keep a pressure towards the ground by just maintaining a slight tension in the belly (hara) to keep your internal energy ready to explode at any request. A bit like a valve that would be kept closed until the desired moment to release all the power of steam.

I have prepared a video to which I return in detail on the various points that we have just discussed and where I give you some additional tips on the movements forward (Ayumi Ashi) and backward (Iki Ashi) in Zenkutsu Dachi.

See you soon

>>> Download the video
I hope you enjoyed this video of Zenkutsu Dachi.

I find you below to give me your opinion, thank you.

See you soon,

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  1. Hello Bruno
    Nice to discover your site full of teaching
    I dismissed karate a few days ago. Travel is a weak point for me. I spent the whole day watching your videos. I learned a lot. I hope it will serve me to progress in my classes. Thank you for your effort in explanations and mimicry

  2. Hello,

    Thank you very much for the video. I practice Shinkyokushin and I am green belt. Zenkutsu dachi is an essential position in this style, but I imagine it is in a lot of styles.

    Your video helped me a lot. I do not have much balance and I think it's because my feet are on the same line. When I sit, I feel like I'm on two different lines, but no, because I'm losing my balance. Moreover, when I go forward with a punch, my body tends to go to the side and to be very stretched forward, because I give a lot of my energy in what I do.

    With your video and the advice of my instructors who take the time to explain to me, I will be able to improve myself and be better and better.

    Thank you

  3. Thank you for this clear video, everything is well explained in detail. I start karate and this video is good to avoid taking bad habits of departure.

  4. Zenkutsu is good when you are low, but after courses "always lower", I developed chronic tendonitis (patellar tendon) .The same boredom is that the meniscus is compressed in an unexpected way (imagine how the bone comes to wear it) but with 20% more weight.
    In recent years, karate through competitions is much higher.
    No contact sport seems to move low.
    In my opinion, except for muscle, the ideal is what showed Master Funakoshi on KAraté Kyohon of 1935 and what is done in Okinae Karate.
    Then people talk up or down, but it depends on the length of the legs and to see the style I look at the angle of the knees.
    ... Ideally both feet touch the ground

  5. Thank you Bruno for these videos. They are very clear! I start in a karate jutsu club, with sessions all levels and take the train on. I need this kind of video to acquire the basics

  6. Hello Bruno,
    Just a small comment to share the discovery of your site following my research in the improvement of my taikyoku shodan, and indicate that the few details you donate in your videos are a mine for the perfection of techniques.

    I thank you and wish you to continue to decorate new articles.
    Good night.

    • Hello Thibault,

      Thank you very much for this very nice feedback. I am delighted that the details I give you are useful and that they allow you to progress.

      I will continue for a very long time, it's safe.

      A +

  7. Thank you teacher,
    This video makes me understand my mistakes.
    Your classes are superbly accessible.
    Thank you for taking the time, for the multiple levels, who watch his videos.
    Pascal, Switzerland.

  8. hello Bruno

    great this site

    I resume karate after 15 years of arrest, I have not forgotten

    I had a particular lesson with a 2eme dan (it was my partner exo so he took care of me) including on this displacement

    and it's great to see that quietly at home with more tips to progress faster

    great job

  9. Hello,

    As always, a great yard!

    On the other hand, support dailymotion is really not great. It is impossible to "load" the video in advance as on youtube which requires watching the video with times of forced break when the connection is not good and it is a shame.

  10. I saw the video of hachi dachi and zenkutsu and I appreciated them, very understandable, as well as the texts and their meanings in French:



  11. good evening Mr bruno.
    I would like to congratulate you with these clarifications.
    Very precise and well detailed ...
    Good luck in this momentum.

  12. Not yet, say there is so much video that for now I have not had time to look at other since for the most part I'm in college but good for video stretching and warming up I'm going to take a look at it and you'll make a few impressions ^^ if not a last little question about the book of sensei funakoshi I would have liked to know if it was easily found in a bookstore or if it's better to buy it on the internet? And is not it too complicated to understand? Thanks again bye

    • Marine,
      Regarding Master Funakoshi's book, it's clear, you'll have a lot easier to order on the internet.
      It does not even cost 10 € and more, if you go through the link here or the one I put at the end of summaryI will touch up a small amount (40cts !!!) but small streams make big rivers
      Otherwise, do not worry about reading, it's written very simply. You will have no difficulty, it is really very affordable.

  13. Bruno Bandelier at

    Hello Marine,
    If this video has you more you will love others
    Your coach is probably doing what he can because it's not easy to correct each student one by one. And that's why I created this blog, to allow everyone to perfect these techniques and to see or review details.
    I can not wait to see your comments on the other videos ...
    You say you're not disappointed in signing up: did you read my book on warm-ups and videos of stretching? What do you think?

  14. Hello, I want to clarify that this is the first video that I watch and I find it very well explain, so I hate to see the others ^ ^ since my trainer does not dwell on especially those who have not understood a gesture or a position it's really not bad to be able to watch this video that helps. Thank you again and I must admit that I'm really not disappointed to put finally =)

  15. Good evening Bruno,

    A presentation of Zenkutsu Dachi clear, explicit and understandable by the greatest number.

    Thank you again for putting your knowledge, experience and approach at your disposal.

    It's really a great opportunity !!!!

    Good night.


  16. Hello Bruno,

    It is very detailed, after many years of practice, we tend to operate by habit, it is necessary to review its basics.
    You are absolutely right to remember that stretching can only improve the flexibility of muscles and tendons, I do not teach you anything as a triathlete you know the importance.

    Have a good day


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