How to Do Kung Fu Stances Properly

When you want to learn Kung Fu, the first thing you have to master is the basic Kung Fu stances used when practicing.

You may not understand their importance at first, but as you progress it becomes very clear why they are fundamental in your practice.

But before we even get into the stances, let’s talk about what Kung Fu really is about first.

So, what is Kung Fu?

Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art that has both a physical and spiritual dimension to it.

The term “Kung Fu” itself is a Chinese phrase that can be translated to mean a skill that is learned over time through discipline and hard work or more literally, a personal achievement.

Its origin can be traced to the Zhou dynasty of 1111-255 BC that ruled China for about eight centuries.

It is believed to have originated in the Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist monastery where monks practiced it for self-defense and health in their quest for spiritual enlightenment.

The prescribed Kung Fu stances are based on observations of human muscular and skeletal anatomy, and it requires a great deal of muscular coordination.

Kung Fu Stances

Kung Fu stances can be categorized into two main groups; traditional stances and contemporary stances.


There are four Kung Fu stances under the traditional category, namely Si-Liu Bu, Tun Bu, Qi Lin Bu and Jin Ji Du Li.


Si-Liu Bu is also known as the “four-six stance” and is used as a defense posture.

It is called the four-six stance because when you are doing it, 40% of your bodyweight is on your leading foot and the other 60% on your rear one.

Your lead foot is supposed to be leaning slightly to the opposite side and the rear one should be almost aligned with it.

The knee on your rear foot should be turned inward (toward your groin) while the front one should be bent.

It is considered one of the most functional Kung Fu stances and it serves as a guard position in many Kung Fu techniques.

It is also a highly mobile stance that is often used for stepping forward or backwards swiftly.


Also known as the “swallow stance,” this stance is formed by squatting on one leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground and extending your other foot until it touches the ground.

The extended foot should touch the ground with your heel only and it should be facing forward.

From this stance, you can easily execute kicks, punches and jump kicks.


Qi Lin Bu is also referred to as the “unicorn stance” and it involves sitting cross-legged, with your feet placed adjacent to each other on their outer edges.

Your butt should be lowered halfway and they should not be touching the ground.

In most cases, it is used to execute front kicks and uppercuts, and sometimes straight-line retreats in fewer cases.


Jin Ji Du Li translates to “golden rooster stands on one leg.”

It is formed when you raise one of your knees to maximum height, facing either the front or side, depending on the position of the opponent.

In both karate and Kung Fu, Jin Ji Du Li is used to execute frontal and side kicks.


Under contemporary Kung Fu stances, there are five main stances namely Ma Bu, Zuo Pan Bu, Xuan Ji Bu, Gong Bu and Fu Hu Bu.


Ma Bu is a fundamental stance in almost all Kung Fu techniques.

It begins with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, parallel and facing forward. You then bend your knees at 90 degrees to make your thighs parallel to the ground.

Your torso should sink down and your lower back should be flat.

Each of your feet bears equal bodyweight, making it one of the most stable Kung Fu stances.

It is popularly used to build muscle endurance and hip strength for extra stability.


Zuo Pan Bu is also known as the Pan Rao Long Bu and resembles the Qin Lin Bu in appearance.

However, unlike in the Qin Lin Bu, the toes on your front foot do not point sideways.

You can get into the Zuo Pan Bu by getting into Ma Bu first, and then pivoting 180 degrees either clockwise or anticlockwise and ending it with crouched legs.

Your back should be straight, your head up and the heel of your back foot raised so that it is off the ground.

It can help you execute a side kick easily using the front foot.


This is also known as the “tricky” or “false” leg stance that is used to initiate kicking attacks.

It is assumed by placing your entire bodyweight on one leg and extending the other forward to touch the ground lightly.

Since the front leg does not have any weight on it, you can use it to execute fast kicks.


Gong Bu translates into the “bow stance.”

In this stance, the lead foot points straight ahead and the leg is bent at 90 degrees while the other foot angles outward at 45 degrees.

You can bend the trailing leg slightly but in most cases, it is held straight.

It is mostly used to attack, as its structure protects your groin and allows you to punch with more power by driving your back leg into the ground.


In the Fu Hu Bu, you squat on one leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground, and then you extend your other leg to the side.

You can use it in both attacking and defending.



The term ‘health’ here is used to mean not only being physically well but also the ability to work energetically, think clearly and sleep soundly.

Apart from the muscular training it offers, Kung Fu also enhances the inner faculties of the mind and of vital energy.


Self-defense is the very essence of most Chinese martial arts, including Kung Fu.

As much as true Kung Fu teaches the importance of restraint and tolerance, it also emphasizes the need to learn how to defend yourself.

It links the ability to defend oneself with the development of self-confidence.


Techniques taught in martial arts are divided into four main categories; grappling and throwing, kicking, seizing and locking joints, and striking.

Kung Fu includes techniques from each of these categories, which is important because a Chinese martial artist should be able to deal with all types of attacks.


Aside from physical training, Kung Fu also teaches moral development by stressing values such as courage, respect, reverence for life and tolerance.

The intrinsic nature of Kung Fu is a lengthy process of building character to develop qualities like discipline, perseverance, loyalty, endurance and calm disposition.


If you have a keen interest in learning Kung Fu, you need to have the basic stances at your fingertips.

This article has everything you need to know about Kung Fu stances, both traditional and contemporary.

However, it is best to consult a martial artist before you try them out, just to make sure you are using the correct form.



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