Proper Foot Placement

In order to maximize the power generated by the hips during a technique, the hips must be firmly “connected” to the ground. In this lies the importance of stance in karate. Without proper stance and proper movement from one stance to the next, the power generated by the hips cannot be maximized.

In the book Best Karate – Fundamentals, Master Nakayama states, “A strong technique is born from a firm, sure-footed stance”. He then goes on to state, “For techniques to be powerful, fast, accurate and smoothly executed, they must be launched from a strong and stable base”.

Let’s look at the correct stance and movement for zenkutsu dachi (front stance). In zenkutsu dachi, the stance is one shoulder-width wide and 2 shoulder-widths long, as shown below:

Foot Placement










From this picture, we also note that the front foot is turned in slightly and the back foot is turned only slightly outward. A common mistake is to point the back foot too far towards the side, which then impedes a fast movement forward. It also positions the hips incorrectly. The front knee should be over the ball of the foot and not allowed to collapse inward.

When moving in front stance, proceed as follows:

Pull the back leg forward with the inner thigh muscles (the “adductors”). Do not start the motion by leaning forward. Do not start the motion by turning the front foot outward.

  • As the back leg passes the supporting leg, drive forward off the supporting heel.
  • As the technique lands, use hip rotation, grounded via the back heel, to achieve maximum power.
  • Throughout the movement, keep the hips level and the head at the same height (do not rise up as you move forward).
Following these same principals will help you with other stances as well, and will give your techniques added power and speed.