Karate Terms in Japanese Part 3 – Stances

A woman standing in kokutsu dachi stance - a popular karate stance

This is the third and very important post in a series of posts on karate terms that extensively cover names of all stances in Japanese that you will probably ever need in your karate training.

For previous posts in this series, please click the links below:


  1. Karate stances in alphabetical order
  2. Videos on karate stances

Karate stances in alphabetical order

These karate stances are listed in alphabetical order for easy reference.

  1. Bensoku dachi: Turning cross leg stance
  2. Chinto dachi: A stance only used in Chinto kata
  3. Fudo dachi (sochin dachi): Immovable stance or rooted stance
  4. Gankaku dachi (or sagi ashi dachi): Crane or heron stance
  5. Gyaku neko ashi dachi: Reverse cat stance
  6. Gyaku zuki dachi: Reverse punch stance
  7. Gyaku zuki tsukkomi dachi: Reverse lunge stance
  8. Hachiji dachi: Natural or open leg stance, feet shoulder-width apart pointing outward
  9. Hachinoji dachi: Ready stance
  10. Han zenkutsu dachi: Half front stance
  11. Hangetsu dachi: Half moon stance
  12. Hanmi neko ashi dachi: Half turned cat stance
  13. Heiko dachi: Feet parallel, shoulder-width stance
  14. Heisoku dachi: Feet are closed together, heels touching
  15. Jun zuki dachi: Front punch or jab stance
  16. Jun zuki tsukkomi dachi: Front lunge punch stance
  17. Kake ashi dachi: Crossed leg stance
  18. Kiba dachi: Horse riding stance
  19. Kokutsu dachi: Back stance
  20. Kosa dachi: Crossed leg or scissor stance
  21. Moro ashi dachi: One foot forward stance
  22. Moto dachi: Foundational Stance
  23. Musubi dachi: Formal attention stance or V-shape stance, heels together, feet pointing outwards forming an angle of about 60 degrees
  24. Naihanchi dachi: Modified horse stance. One shin-length plus one to one and a half fist between the heels, feet pointing inwards, knees slightly bent
  25. Neko ashi dachi: Cat foot stance
  26. No tsukomi dachi: Forward lunging stance
  27. Renoji dachi: Letter “Re” stance or the L stance. Heels are on the same line, one foot pointing outward at 45 degree angle and one foot pointing straight forward
  28. Sagi ashi dachi: Heron leg stance
  29. Sanchin dachi: Hourglass stance
  30. Sesan dachi: side facing straddle stance
  31. Shiko dachi: square stance
  32. Shizentai dachi (yoi daichi): Natural ready stance. One foot space between the heels, feet pointing outward about 30 degree angle
  33. Shomen neko ashi dachi: Forward-facing cat stance
  34. Soto hachiji dachi: Outside figure 8 stance
  35. Tachi dachi: Standing stance
  36. Tate seisan dachi: Vertical seisan stance
  37. Teiji stance: T-shaped stance
  38. Tsuru ashi dachi: Crane leg stance
  39. Uchi hachiji dachi: Inside figure 8 stance
  40. Yoko seisan dachi: Side seisan stance
  41. Zenkutsu dachi: Front stance

Videos on karate stances

Shotokan stances

In this video, three common basic Shotokan stances are demonstrated. They are zenkutsu dachi (front stance), kokutsu dachi (back stance), and kiba dachi (horse stance).

More Shotokan stances

This is another video on Shotokan stances. It covers the following most common stances:

  1. Heisoku dachi
  2. Musubi dachi
  3. Heiko dachi
  4. Renoji dachi
  5. Zenkutsu dachi
  6. Kokutsu dachi
  7. Kiba dachi

Goju ryu stances

This video is for beginners and cover the following 10 common Goju ryu stances:

  1. Heisoku dachi
  2. Musubi dachi
  3. Heiko dachi
  4. Hachiji dachi
  5. Shiko dachi
  6. Sanchin dachi
  7. Neko ashi dachi
  8. Zenkutsu dachi
  9. Kokutsu dachi
  10. Bensoku dachi

More Goju ryu stances by Master Morino Higaonna

In this video, Master Morio Higaonna, 10th Dan in Goju ryu karate, demonstrates and provides excellent detailed explanations on each of the following common Goju ryu stances:

  1. Heisoku dachi
  2. Musubi dachi
  3. Heiko dachi
  4. Hachiji dachi
  5. Uchi hachiji dachi
  6. Kiba dachi
  7. Shiko dachi
  8. Sanchin dachi
  9. Zenkutsu dachi
  10. Han zenkutsu dachi
  11. Hiku zenkutsu dachi
  12. Kokutsu dachi
  13. Neko ashi dachi
  14. Bensoku dachi
  15. Seisan dachi

Kyokushin stances

This video demonstrates 15 Kyokushin stances:

  1. Shizentai dachi
  2. Heisoku dachi
  3. Musubi dachi
  4. Heiko dachi
  5. Soto hachiji dachi
  6. Uchi hachiji dachi
  7. Migi sanchin dachi
  8. Moro ashi dachi
  9. Kokutsu dachi
  10. Neko ashi dachi
  11. Kake ashi dachi
  12. Zenkutsu dachi
  13. Kiba dachi
  14. Shiko dachi
  15. Tsuru ashi dachi

Wado ryu stances

This is the first video of a two part series on Wado ryu stances. It demonstrates the following stances:

  1. Heisoku dachi
  2. Musubi dachi
  3. Shizentai/hachiji dachi/yoi
  4. Heiko dachi
  5. Jogotai
  6. Naihanchi dachi
  7. Shiko dachi
  8. Migi shizentai
  9. Hidari shizentai
  10. Junzuki dachi/zenkutsu dachi
  11. Gyakuzuki dachi
  12. Moto dachi

This is the second video of the series and it demonstrates the following stances:

  1. Shomen neko ashi dachi
  2. Hanmi neko ashi dachi
  3. Mahanmi neko ashi dachi
  4. Guyaku neko ashi dachi

21 karate stances

This video demonstrates 21 karate stances listed below.

  1. Heisoku Dachi
  2. Musubi Dachi
  3. Heiko achi
  4. Hachiji dachi
  5. Uchi hachiji dachi
  6. Naihanchi dachi
  7. Shiko dachi
  8. Naname shiko dachi
  9. Kiba dachi
  10. Zenkutsu dachi
  11. Han zenkutsu dachi
  12. Kokutsu dachi
  13. Renoji dachi
  14. Sanchin dachi
  15. Neko ashi dachi
  16. Sagi ashi dachi
  17. Bensoku dachi
  18. Kosa dachi
  19. Fudo dachi
  20. Seiza
  21. Han seiza


I haven't trained in karate for long but it has given me so much and definitely has made me a better person. The more I train, the more I realize that karate is more about mastering your mind than mastering your physical form. If learning karate is like learning a language, I am still at the alphabet stage and I am sharing with you on this blog bits and pieces that I pick up a long the way. I hope you find them useful and wish you all the best with your karate journey!

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