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  • #16
    I also have the same problem that my feet are too close but i think that it's a cultural thing rather than a biological one. Because women are always taught to sit "properly" and "not opening legs, just crossing them". I force opening my legs while doing suburi and it helps n_n. It feels strange at first but you'll get used to it.

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    • #17
      I don't believe the problem with narrow stance with women is so much cultural. Rather it is more due to the way their hips are structured. The cultural thing comes in with seiza. I just say knees together is fine if that makes you more comfortable.

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      • #18
        Ooooh I learned something really helpful this summer lol

        I have my feet close together (not vertically, but closer horizontally) and I adjust for kendo, because if you're going to get knocked down because of your feet, then why do it? I think having a comfortable chudan position is important. As long as the blade is ALIVE, I don't think I'll be disatisfied.

        As for positioning your feet, if you don't have a room full of mirrors like the dojo I used to train in, then it's hard to tell what shoulder length is, so my sensei came up with this theory:

        Stick your feet together
        Left foot goes 90 degrees
        While the ball of the foot stays, just shift your heel ONLY so your feet are parallel to each other

        Ta da, you have a good stance.

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        • #19
          I know this is an old post now but....This is something I have an issue with myself. I'm told my foot placement is correct length ways but that my feet are too close together width ways. When I try to keep my feet wider apart (i.e. shoulder width) I find it uncomfortable and difficult to move, it hurts my hips. Reading the previous comments I think it perhaps is just a woman thing and that over time I will get used to the stance. Maybe I am over-widening my feet as I am now conscious of it, perhaps this is why it's slightly uncomfortable? This may seem like an odd remark but I wonder if your foot size influences it at all? i.e. do people with smaller feet keep them closer together? Just a thought. I'm pretty much the only woman at my dojo so it's hard to know.

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          • #20
            Women in general tend to have their feet closer due to their hips as you have already figured out. Whether it is too close is an individual thing. If your feet are lined up one behind the other definitely too close. OTOH if you can't move comfortably it may be too wide for you. Generally speaking, same width as for walking normally. Take a few easy walking steps and stop with right foot front. This is a good starting point. It may be a little long front to back but width is usually OK. Some women will tend to tighten up as they move in okuri-ashi from their initial good stance - jist try to maintain that same width.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by fastheart&sword View Post
              Stick your feet together
              Left foot goes 90 degrees
              While the ball of the foot stays, just shift your heel ONLY so your feet are parallel to each other

              Ta da, you have a good stance.

              Oddly enough, that's how I was taught as well, when I started kendo under a Korean instructor. Is this method unique to kumdo? I've never seen this taught at any other kendo dojo.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by verissimus View Post
                Oddly enough, that's how I was taught as well, when I started kendo under a Korean instructor. Is this method unique to kumdo? I've never seen this taught at any other kendo dojo.
                Our sensei has also shown that method, so not unique to kumdo.

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                • #23
                  From what I understand, the goal is to have the balls of your feet on the same line as the hip socket. When the balls of the feet are inside or outside of that, you lose something in the pushing off.

                  But since we can't really see where the hip socket is, the truth is somewhere between shoulder width vs one foot width apart.

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                  • #24
                    An easy way to find a natural width for the distance between your feet is to jump up and down a tiny amount (just enough so your feet come off the ground), and then you stop. For most people, that's their natural stance. Then just take a step forward with the right foot. That should be a good starting point for kamae.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Halcyon View Post
                      Our sensei has also shown that method, so not unique to kumdo.
                      I learned that too as a foil fencer.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by verissimus View Post
                        Oddly enough, that's how I was taught as well, when I started kendo under a Korean instructor. Is this method unique to kumdo? I've never seen this taught at any other kendo dojo.
                        This is taught in Europe too.

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                        • #27
                          Just on the side note: Asians say shoulder width, but to Europeans that distance is hip width. It comes from a little difference in the bone/muscular structure (the European body type has in general a wider shoulder). The method above is the perfect way to find your perfect position.

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                          • #28
                            Personally, I don't think people who hold their feet closer together than shoulder width has anything to do with hips or gender. It is simply very poor technique because there is no good balance. If you study karate, which has many stances, the basic position in back stance is shoulder width apart, which is the main stance in Shorin-ryu. You can not do karate kata properly if you don't have good back stance. All the women of higher rank in Shorin-ryu do proper backstance. So, this should prove that women are fully capable of learning proper technique.

                            Now, karate women are not the only example of females being able to do technique same as men. Look at professional skiers, equestrians, surfers, etc. You don't see female race horse jockeys riding side saddle, do you? No.

                            But there is this funny thing about some girls who do kendo. They wear their hakama above the waist instead of around the hips because they don't like the feel. They insist on doing feminine version of kendo and often you seen them wearing white hakama and keikogi. Usually, these are girls and young women. If they stick with kendo, at some point, they have to fix their technique.

                            Japanese history tells us that women were samuari, fought in battles, and were often tasked with the last defense of the castle. Do you think Gozen Tomoe wore clothes and armor like other generals or made excuses because she was female? If we study the old literature, we find that Tomoe was like her male contemporaries.

                            Therefore, I personally believe that if we are to succeed at kendo, we must learn to do proper stance. It should, in fact, be EASIER for a woman to do a proper stance because our hips afford us better balance and mobility than some men. This is proven by the old chair trick. Face a wall, bend over so your head touches the wall, and then try to pick up a chair. Females can do this no problem, but most men can not. It's because men tend to be heavier in the shoulders and their center of gravity is bit different. So, if anyone has limitation because of physique, it should be men.

                            That said, I think the real reason some women feel they can't do proper stance is rooted in their attitude and what their idea of being female means. If you grew up being tomboy like me, you have no problem wearing hakama like a guy, mastering kendo footwork like a guy, and really putting your whole spirit into kendo. But if you have been raised to be a lady with grace in all things, then you probably have a really hard time learning to wear hakama below your waist. And if you can't wear hakama properly, how do you feel your center, develop your ki, and really hit men like you mean to kill someone?

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                            • #29
                              I think you are misunderstanding what has been said. Women tend to take a narrower stance initially because of their hips, IMO. It's not that they can't do it. Once they are told how they should stand, generally they fix it as best they can. It's got nothing to do with attitude, in fact my women students generally have a better attitude than the men.

                              As far as wearing hakama, it has to do with how you are built. Women with hips have to wear their hakama higher, that's all there is to it. If you are skinny then you can wear them lower. I have no idea what wearing the hakama low or high has to do with developing technically. I know quite high ranking women who compete internationally that wear their hakama high.

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                              • #30
                                MANY YEARS AGO... Hakama maker in Japan brought out really good heavy duty handmade hakama. It was special order for notable sensei, but sensei never picked it up. Then, hakama maker brought out antique samurai hakama. Inside was stiff piece of material called "power strip". I asked, "What is that?" Hakama maker said power strip is there to remind samurai to keep strong ki and low center of gravity.

                                I bought that sensei's hakama and it took some time getting used to wearing it. But now I would not trade that hakama for anything. I found after gaining some weight, hakama is easier to wear because it won't ride up.

                                The hakama above the waist thing is a Japanese girl's thing. When you wear ceremonial hakama over kimono (like graduation), girl's hakama is very high to cover kimono obi. That is only reason.

                                But wearing hakama has nothing to do with stance. High or low, blue or white, good stance means good balance.

                                Women are not fragile and it is wrong thinking to treat them like they have some physique problem and kendo has to make exceptions for them. Remember, this is half of human race that gives birth to babies.

                                It has been said if men had to endure pain of birth, human race would be extinct

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