Wujido 101: Basic Stance Training-Tiger Stretchings its back

Learn real Karate/Kungfu

tigerstretchback4It may appear to the beginner that learning stances is outdated or is not necessary.  This is a great mistake and based on several misunderstandings about the purpose of stance training.  In Kungfu we refer to stance training when  we refer to taking various different poses.  Some of the poses are static and others are not.  To believe the practice is simple and not difficult and not applicable is another great mistake.


Kungfu and/or Karate are not just fighting systems.  They are also possessed of a built-in Yoga system.  When one looks deeply and with insight into postures aka shapes, stances, it become more clear that all of them have a basis in Yoga practice.  In the ancient days this kind of practice was generally referred to as acrobatics in the old Shastras and Sutras associated with ancient Hindu and Buddhist Yoga or Tantra.  The above example practiced in the old forms of the Shaolin Quanfa systems is an excellent example.  It can be practiced as a static exercise with many benefits of flexibility and the strengthening of the tendons and connective tissue as well as a method of self-massage of the internal organs in the torso.

tigerstretchback2The basic action is to first drop into the position shown in the example above and to the immediate left. This may be simple for some but quite difficult for others.  The body can be stretched to both the left and right with various effects.  Tiger paws at the moon is to rotate the waist in the opposite direction from the forward flank.  The posture has both a high and low aspect.  The low aspect is more difficult as the individual aligns the entire elevated portion of the back leg and torso to within 1 inch of the floor and maintains this rigorous pose as low as possible without touching the ground and at the same time taking the opposite hand (tiger claw) and extending it a far as possible with both arms in close alignment as straight as possible toward the sky or ceiling.  Variants are also the “looking back” pose  in “worried tiger” position as a tiger might step and look back again and again because of a trailing sound or disturbance.  This posture also is practiced in a way the develops the legs and hips in a most amazing way by practicing the “tiger stalking” action as well.



The benefits of the training of “tiger stretching its back” are quite numerous lets make a list and examine them.

  • Shoulders
    • There are several aspects to the training of the shoulders.  The Shoulders are obviously strengthened by the pressure of the posture, when exercising the tiger paws at the moon and worried tiger looking back it becomes obvious that the entire shoulder complex is not only strengthened but made more flexible and stronger in a more expansive range of motion.  This will make the shoulder strong, healthy, and remove any stagnant Qi in the shoulder and armpit where sometimes stiffness develops.
  • Abdomen and Lower Back
    • A few minutes in the exercise will challenge even those in tremendous condition.  The entire waist area front and back is challenged, pressed and stretched removing stagnancy in the waist and back area along with stretching the abdominal walls to ensure they are durable and flexible to avoid injuries from explosive movements.  Without this kind of strength the higher level of power will not happen no matter how one wishes.
  • Hip Flexors
    • The hips joints are in opposition and the stretch in antagonistic directions produces an holistic effect helping the practitioner to achieve a high level of 360 degree range of motion.  This teaches the body to adapt properly when delivering powerful kicks lending greater range for the front, round, and lotus style kicks.  Without flexible and explosive kicks their effectiveness is put in doubt.
  • Whole body development
    • The more pure aim of the training of this exercise is to unify the body and gain control of its action in agility, to gain confidence in movement.  Strength, power, agility, speed, durability all can be improved with this posture and the various exercises that are trained using it.