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Classic 5 Kung Fu Poses

Young women demos classic kung fu poses

Water Mountain’s Manual of Classic Kung Fu Poses

Let’s take a look at 5 classic, common poses from the martial art of kung fu.  Poses are physical positions that are designed to build strength and pain control.  They are a display behavior, a way of showing off skill and ability.   Poses are ideal for display behaviors, because they allow for harmless competition.  Each pose is simple and most people can adopt their physical shapes with ease.  Because of the simplicity the pain and challenge can be easily experienced by anyone that holds a pose, providing the shared experience necessary for mutual respect.

Kung Fu Pose: Chair

Advice on the Kung Fu Pose: Chair

  • Ideally, the spine is completely straight, forming a perpendicular with the ground.  The butt should tilt back and out to form a sharp J shape.  A full spinal upright is normally not possible for people that don’t begin pose work early childhood, or have hyper-flexibility.  Do not exceed personal physical limits when attempting positions.
  • The thighs should be parallel to the ground.  15 degree variation up or down from parallel is acceptable.
  • Feet should be flat on the ground, but are acceptable with some lift.  Calf flexibility and achilles tendon length will strongly constrain the ability to have the feet flat.  Feet flatness should be encouraged but not pushed to avoid injury.

Kung Fu Pose: Spreading Pillars

Advice on Kung Fu Pose: Spreading Pillars

  • As with most poses, the name indicates the activity that should guide the shape of the pose.  In this instance, you are between two pillars pushing outward.
  • As with many poses, there is a mechanical device that can be used to develop the physics of the form properly.  In this instance, two poles mounted in the ground, or suspended bags can be used to simulate the resistance of the pillars being spread.
  • The thighs can range from an approximate parallel to the ground to a rise from parallel of up to 30 degrees.  This stance is not intended to be ma bu of social media fame.
  • The spine should be upright and forming a perpendicular to the ground, while the buttocks allow the J shape of the spine.
  • The shoulder blades should be moved so that they come close to meeting.  This position will open the chest.
  • Arms should be outstretched, with minimal bend at the elbow, and roughly parallel to the ground.
  • Feet should be flat on the ground, but are acceptable with some lift.  Calf flexibility and achilles tendon length will strongly constrain the ability to have the feet flat.  Feet flatness should be encouraged but not pushed to avoid injury.

Kung Fu Pose: Deep Lean

Advice on Kung Fu Pose: Deep Lean

  • The thigh of the bent leg should form a parallel to the ground with an acceptable variation of 15 degrees plus or minus.
  • The hand on the hip should fit squarely into the sharpest part (apex) of the angle formed between the outstretched leg and the pelvis.  By pushing with the fist, stability will increase.
  • Feet should be flat on the ground, but are acceptable with some lift.  Calf flexibility and achilles tendon length will strongly constrain the ability to have the feet flat.  Feet flatness should be encouraged but not pushed to avoid injury.

Kung Fu Pose: Off the Precipice

Advice on Kung Fu Pose: Off the Precipice

  • The most likely error with this pose is switching the arm position.  Indoors, there will seem to be little value in which hand is which; however, outdoors, when posing on a rock, for example, the arm positions compensate for the pressure of wind.
  • Hands represent holding a sword and shield.  The shield arm is over the raised leg.

Kung Fu Pose: Long Front Double Palms

Advice on Kung Fu Pose: Long Front Double Palms

  • Note with the rear leg, the heel is off the ground and the ball of the foot is the contact surface.  This foot position is used because it also allows the foot to be placed against a vertical surface.  In higher risk, outdoor setting the pose can be performed between two boulders, for example, or on platforms of mixed height.
  • The close palm shouldn’t touch the torso.  Both arms should be unsupported to increase the difficulty of the feat.

There is some risk with all physical poses, which comes mostly from pushing physical limits or hurried practice.  All users assume risk of their own practice, and Water Mountain assumes no liability or responsibility for injury.  WMI is simply demonstrating proper form and methodology.

Outdoor Display of Kung Fu Poses

There is a long martial tradition of doing poses in risky areas.  Typically, the location should show courage, be picturesque, and be impressive.  The face of the practitioner should also have a heroic look to it.

Many times the pose will need to be modified to fit the environment and the artistic effect sought.

Water Mountain doesn’t require poses to be done in other than controlled indoor locations, where safety can be preserved.

Water Mountain Requirements

Water Mountain practitioners have a series of physical standards that they must meet as they progress known as the Arcs.  Classic Poses are required to be executed at the following intervals, by the Arc.

  • Arc 1: 1 minute
  • Arc 2: 2 minutes
  • Arc 3: 5 minutes
  • Arc 4: 10 minutes
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