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  • Distance between feet

    Hello. I would like to direct this question/observation primarily to the female kendoka and instructors. Of course, everyone is welcome to contribute.

    I noticed, especially while instructing beginners, that female kendoka typically have their feet closer together than male kendoka. I was taught to have them approximately shoulder width apart and frequently remind people to make sure their stance isn't too narrow and off-balanced. However, after dealing w/ the rush of beginners at the beginning of the school year this time, (we had 8 girls show up for the first practice) I suddently had the epiphany (finally! ) that this might have something to do w/ the time honored debate on how men and women walk differently.

    So girls, is it more natural for you to have your feet close together? Do you adjust for kendo or does it stay the same? Instructors, do you insist upon correcting people who do this or let it develop as nature dictates? In my opinion there is a point for having your feet shoulder width apart, as that provides better stability and makes your feet more parallel (for some people). But if it's instinctive/natural, I would also like to work with it and not against it...

  • #2
    Its true that if your feet are apart youll have better stability. I think within time everybody finds their own kamae that they are comfortable with and is good for them. Some people have their feet closer together than others.

    Dont know how it is with women. When sitting in seiza women keep their knees together or one fist width away from each other. Could this have something to do with their kamae?

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    • #3
      Women's hips are different, so their feet tend to be closer. But I try to get everybody in what is a natural stance for them without a hard and fast rule. If I think they're so wide they can't move or so narrow they're off-balance, I'll let them know.

      One good way to get stance width is to have them walk naturally and stop with right foot forward. That usually results in a stance a little too long front to back but pretty much perfect for that person side to side.

      Toni, the knees together in seiza thing is a modesty issue.

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      • #4
        as neil said its the hip and feminate thing-closer,
        when you started did it not feel wierd having them shoulder width apart?
        though ive seen plenty of blokes that do it too...
        i do it with my back foot iniai. though that may just be me being crap/broken kneed.
        i fall over, or am in discomfort if i try to widen my knees or straighten that back foot...

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        • #5
          I always have my feet too close, and therfore I often feel like Id fall over if someone gently pushed me sideways. I try to widen my stance when I notice it, but its hard.

          I think its alot to do with the difference in hips. Have you ever been to a fancy dress party and seen a guy dressed up as a chick? You can pick them really easy because they stand and walk with their feet so much further apart than women.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill
            One good way to get stance width is to have them walk naturally and stop with right foot forward. That usually results in a stance a little too long front to back but pretty much perfect for that person side to side.
            What he said!

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            • #7
              Ah, i also keep my feet too close, i had some balance issues in the beginning but not so much anymore

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill
                One good way to get stance width is to have them walk naturally and stop with right foot forward.
                That's a little curious as the natural way of walking is to bring the feet closer to the center line when walking.
                My favourite way of lining up peoples feet roughly in the right place is to let them stand with the feet together.
                1. Pivot left foot 90 degrees out from the left heel
                2. From that position pivot 90 degrees from the left big toe.
                This will give you roughly the right distance both in width and depth and with the left toe roughly lined up with the right heel.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JSchmidt
                  That's a little curious as the natural way of walking is to bring the feet closer to the center line when walking.
                  The idea is to produce a natural stance. I forget now which sensei I got this from... but anyways, it was from quite a senior guy and I find it works well for the side to side distance for most people.

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                  • #10
                    [quote=JMy favourite way of lining up peoples feet roughly in the right place is to let them stand with the feet together.
                    1. Pivot left foot 90 degrees out from the left heel
                    2. From that position pivot 90 degrees from the left big toe.
                    This will give you roughly the right distance both in width and depth and with the left toe roughly lined up with the right heel.[/quote]

                    that's what i was told to use.

                    pete

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JSchmidt
                      That's a little curious as the natural way of walking is to bring the feet closer to the center line when walking.
                      My favourite way of lining up peoples feet roughly in the right place is to let them stand with the feet together.
                      1. Pivot left foot 90 degrees out from the left heel
                      2. From that position pivot 90 degrees from the left big toe.
                      This will give you roughly the right distance both in width and depth and with the left toe roughly lined up with the right heel.
                      That's the method I tell the beginners. However, their feet start getting closer as they start moving and I'm wondering if I should always correct them as they move, or if it's something natural and I should let it be for at least a while. Some of them look well balanced despite having their feet so close together.

                      Originally posted by Kirinhale
                      Ah, i also keep my feet too close, i had some balance issues in the beginning but not so much anymore
                      So did the balance issues go away because you widened your stance or was it just a matter of getting used to the stance?

                      Thank you to everyone who replied. I'll definitely take your responses into consideration.

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                      • #12
                        I got used to it, I tried to keep my feet at shoulder width for a while, but that just felt uncomfortable. Every now and then i adjust my feet when my sensei makes a remark about them, but it feels better when they're closer together.

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                        • #13
                          Mmm... I learned you keep about a fist's+ distance in between, so really you're almost at your natural standing stance. In instructing my kohai that's what I'm teaching them. If your feet get too close, even in parallel, you're more wobbly. This carries over to Iaido, where if you don't spread out far enough you're wobbly.

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                          • #14
                            I was taught to put both your fists in between your feet.

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                            • #15
                              If your feet are too close together, a gentle shove will knock you off balance. I found my centre of gravity this way and adjusted from there. Not too far apart, coz then you are are too flat footed, and then to slow to act or react.

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