From Gut:

Throughout much of Asia, Africa, and southern Europe, people squat briefly over such toilets in a kind of martial arts or downhill skiing pose to poo.

I understand the concept, but how does this relate to martial arts? What kind of martial arts are mentioned? Googling martial art squat seems to only about body building.

FYI: tips and tricks - OK we're all adults here, so really, how on earth should I use a squat toilet? - Travel Stack Exchange


Honestly, I think that Giulia Enders is using an artistic metaphor to conjure an idea of someone squatting in a relaxed but engaged position in much the same way that you might describe someone attentively awaiting a piece of post as "standing still at the door like a dog pointing" or bracing for a date rejection as "standing lightly on the balls of his feet, like a boxer ready to advance or retreat".

So, long story short, squatting over a floor toilet requires a degree of relaxation (so that you're not tiring or cramping up from constant exertion) but also a degree of muscular engagement in the legs (so that you don't topple over), which resembles the sort of static pose you might see in martial arts or skiing where someone is braced in a comfortable position that still requires a bit of effort to maintain.

On a side note, while it does not fit the geographical regions described in the book, Capoeira has a defensive dodge called a cocorinha which literally translates to "squat", and is traditionally a flat-footed squat, either with the arms crossed in front of one's face to guard against a low attack, or with one hand on the floor for support while the other guards the face.

Cocorinha with arms crossed in front Cocorinha with one arm down

  • what does "squeezing your passages shut" mean? And from your description it's simply a state of resting, but still being ready for the next move, is it? – Ooker Jan 28 '18 at 7:33
  • @Ooker: "squeezing your passages shut" was kind of a joking reference to someone trying so hard to be in position that they had their rectum squeezed almost shut. I'll replace it with something about constant muscular tension being wearying. And, assuming you weren't just going with a pun about bowel movement, yes, I think the author was describing being in an actively involved position that doesn't require effort to maintain for a prolonged amount of time. – Macaco Branco Jan 28 '18 at 13:56
  • I have sent her a Tweet to ask whether she can comment further. – Macaco Branco Jan 30 '18 at 16:58
  • But if so, then martial arts or skiing should not be mentioned at all, since this pose is universal. The author should simply have described it as a resting pose, is it? Also, can I see the Twitter link? – Ooker Jan 31 '18 at 10:49

This probably refers to the horse stance:

horse stance

It is used in a lot of martial arts…

  • Following the link I see squatting are used widely in various activities: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squatting_position#Image_gallery – Ooker Jan 26 '18 at 17:05
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    The horse stance does not meet the definition of squatting discussed in Gut. One of the experiments involved three positions: "enthroned on a normal toilet; half-sitting, half-squatting on an unusually low toilet; and squatting with no seat beneath them at all". The squatting is reported as requiring the shortest duration and best satisfactory bowel emptying feeling. The horse stance is closer to one of the first two positions than the squat. – mattm Jan 27 '18 at 14:31
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    @mattm but from the gallery it explicitly says that the stance is a kind of squat? – Ooker Jan 28 '18 at 7:35
  • @Ooker Yes, both the horse stance and the pooping squat are kinds of squats, but the pooping squat is knees to chest and butt to ankles and the horse stance is neither. – mattm Jan 28 '18 at 13:41
  • ah, so you should have emphasized the whole phrase "discussed in Gut", not just "Gut" alone :). After understand it the whole point becomes clear to me. Thanks – Ooker Jan 28 '18 at 15:23

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