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I have been practicing Wushu for almost a year now. I love it. I feel that I am doing well in most areas (as my coach tells me). However, one thing I always get critiqued on is my horse stance, which is in-fact a fundamental thing.

When taking the horse stance, your feet should be straight. They should point forward. My feet naturally point outwards. It takes a conscious effort to straighten them out, and even then it’s hard. I don’t know why this is. In any other position I have no trouble keeping my feet straight.

Is this a common beginner mistake? If so, any recommendations on how to work toward a solution.

I’m actually testing for advancement in 2 weeks. If I can work toward improvements before then it would be nice.

  • Exercise/practice. Muscles will get stronger, joints will become more flexible, habits will become ingrained. It's not a natural pose and it requires work. – John O Dec 2 at 18:01
  • My take: If you have long legs, you simply won't be able to achieve a really deep and semi-comfortable horse stance with feet perfectly forward, without seriously twisting the crap out of your knees and ankles, to the point where it's ridiculous. It sucks, because many instructors don't know any better, and they'll always try to correct you. Screw that! It's not correctable. Not without compromising a bunch of things. You're going to be wobbly. Your joints will hurt. Don't. Asian martial arts do this, but they were developed in Asia, where legs are much shorter. My take. – Steve Weigand Dec 2 at 18:33
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    @JohnO Please write an answer. – mattm Dec 2 at 19:13
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    @SteveWeigand Please write an answer. – mattm Dec 2 at 19:13
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Stance training in wushu or kung fu is meant to remake your body. This process is expected to take many months or years. It is normal to have problems with the horse stance. I would characterize this as an indication of where you should focus training efforts rather than a mistake; the word mistake suggests you can currently correct the perceived stance deficiency, while your description hints at a need for new capability to perform the correction.

Your current approach seems to be:

  1. Get in low horse stance.
  2. Fix outward pointing feet to point forward.

The wushu style horse stance is low, with the thighs parallel to the ground. This version (there are different versions) emphasizes leg strength development.

To work on foot alignment, I suggest:

  1. Plant feet facing forward with horse stance width but straight legs.
  2. Bend your legs until you cannot go lower. I expect this will be before you reach your desired horse stance level due to tightness around your knees or ankles.

This is less of a leg workout, but will allow you to focus on other elements while starting from your desired foot position.

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It's worth considering what the purpose of pointing the toes forward is. I'm not familiar with Wushu, but in Tang Soo Do, letting the toes point out predisposes you to sitting back in the stance, which greatly reduces mobility, and makes it harder to twist at the hip to defend yourself by shifting your torso. By consciously not sitting as much in the stance (which may make it less deep than you're used to doing, and/or the stance less wide), you might make it easier to have your toes pointed forward, whereupon you can start with the practice that John O suggests, of sitting deeper with the toes forward.

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