The Physical Exercise That Strengthens The Mind

Horse stance cures ADHD

There are far too many articles on ROK about exercises that benefit the body to count, but very few that address exercises that benefit the mind.  In a world where constant mental distractions are the norm, the mind needs to be strong enough to filter these meaningless distractions out.  However, instead we live in a world where people are losing the fight against these distractions.

There are many different ways to strengthen the mind such as traveling and seeing more of the world.  However, for the ROK readers who don’t have several thousand dollars and a few months of vacation time that is sitting around unused, there are cheaper ways.  In fact unless you are in a wheelchair you have all the tools you need to do it from right where you are sitting in front of your computer.

Introducing the horse stance.  It is a core exercise found in many Chinese martial arts.  I am told not to give away any of the secrets of my kung fu school to the public, but I recently found out that horse stance is one of the basic stances in almost all yoga classes so apparently the secret is already out.

To do it put your legs about one and a half to two shoulder widths apart.  Try to keep your toes pointed forward as best you can.  Then keeping your back straight and perpendicular to the ground squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground with your knees pointing out to the side.  Before doing it read the part below on proper form to prevent knee problems.  Hold this stance for as long as you can.

horse stance not squat

That is it.  A good exercise should be simple and hard and this falls to the extremes of both.  Every person’s body is different so some people will struggle to hold it for 30 seconds.  Among the 40,000 or so unique visitors to ROK every day there will be someone who has no trouble holding a perfect horse stance for five minutes even though they have never done it before.  Good for you, please keep it to yourself.

Proper Form Prevents Injuries

This exercise will work many of the same muscles as the squat workout done at a gym.  However, the form is different.  The proper form for a squat workout involves the feet about shoulder width apart, knees pointed forward, and your hips go back when you go down.  If you try to do horse stance with this form you will tear up your knees over time.  When doing the horse stance your feet should be much wider apart, your knees should point outward, and your hips should remain forward.  Both are good workouts, but they are not different variations of the same workout.

Due to lack of flexibility and being beginners most of you will not be able to make your form exactly the way I describe.  I have been doing it for a long time (off and on) and even my horse stance form isn’t perfect either.

horse stance perfect

The most important things to do to prevent knee problems is to make sure that your knees are pushed outward and never sink so low in horse stance that your butt is below your knees.  To help get your knees out as much as possible do the butterfly stretch before you practice and don’t wear tight pants.  To make sure that you are squatted the right amount find a bo staff, broom, rake, or shovel around your house that has a round handle.  Balance it across your legs and make sure you are squatted down enough that it doesn’t roll off the front of your knees or roll back toward your body.

The most important thing to do in order to get the most benefit from this workout is to make sure your thighs are parallel to the ground.  Again balancing a broom across the top of your thighs as described above is the best way to make sure you are doing it right.  A high horse stance is a red flag for a McDojo in the martial arts world.

horse stance no good

When I see something like this I feel the same way a weight lifter at the gym feels when they see someone violently rocking their body back and forth while doing a bicep curl.

Mental Discipline

The longer you hold the horse stance the more your legs will burn and burn.  The burn will make your mind go into overdrive to rationalize excuses for why it is OK to give up and stop the burn.  For me this generally starts after about three minutes into a five minute workout.  To block it out I might try to close my eyes and relax despite the burn.  Then I open them to see how much longer I have to endure the burn and see that only 40 seconds of burn have gone by.  My legs are already burning and it will be another minute and twenty seconds of even greater burn before the burning stops.


BUT WAIT… My eyes were closed that whole time.  What if it was actually a minute and 40 seconds that went by.  I know that it wasn’t but…

“It could have been.”

“You have been getting better.”

“Just feel how much your legs burn.”

“And then you would only have 20 seconds more.”

“It was definitely a minute forty.”

“And even if wasn’t four minutes is still good.”

“NO, four minutes is FUCKING AWESOME.”

“Most people in the world can’t do three minutes.”

“No one would blame you.”

All of a sudden you see that eighteen seconds have gone by and you have two seconds to make a choice.  Do you give in or do you push back against those voices and do what you know you need to in order to make yourself the man that you want to be.

pain face

Self Defense Application

Being able to withstand pain is important in a fight.  You won’t be able to block every punch and when one gets through your defenses you have to be able to shake it off immediately or get knocked out by the upcoming follow-up strike.  You also have to have the speed and power to make it through your opponents defenses.  Horse stance makes your leg muscles incredibly strong and your kicks as strong as a horse’s.

In the rise of fake martial arts schools across the country one of the responses to it has been the rise in instructors that do away with the art in martial arts and give only advice that they feel is 100% practical.  While there is a lot of value in what they teach some of what they teach goes against what has worked for thousands of years before they were born.  One of the most common pieces of advice from the practical self defense gurus is to just kick a person in the knee.  The knees are a weak point and easy to break in the average person.

However, as a person gets better at horse stance the muscles and connective tissue in that person’s leg get stronger.  Once he is able to hold horse stance for about an hour at one time his legs will be strong enough to hold against a side kick to the knee unless the opponent also practices horse stance.  Since a lot of people get their fighting advice from practical fighting instructors, putting some horse stance into your workout regimen could save you a lot in reconstructrive knee surgery in the future.

Read Next: Bodybuilding vs. Building Your Body

108 thoughts on “The Physical Exercise That Strengthens The Mind”

  1. Great article. Thanks. Will try to practise this exercise. On first try I did 2 minutes.

  2. I remember learning this in Karate. Its called Kiba Dachi. It may look simple but after a few moments of standing in that position your pulse will shoot up as though you’ve been climbing a long flight of stairs. The lower you go, the more challenging it is. Its like an isometric exercise for the entire body as you need to keep the torso perfectly straight in concert with the leg stance.
    Apart from building strong legs, from a fighting perspective it teaches you to stay low and have a wider and more stable base to attack from. Any good martial artist knows that a strong stable base is paramount to being able to deliver a full blooded punch and to be able to intercept or minimize the damage from an opponent’s punch.

    1. A strong and stable base does not have to be low and wide. Proper body state with moderately bent knees and good kinetic linkage will give you great punching power and allow far more mobility than a low horse stance. Boxers are renown for hand speed and power, and you’ll never see them in an exaggeratedly low and wide stance. Kung fu has value, but there’s a lot of chaff to separate from the wheat if you grok my meaning.

      1. I didn’t say adopt a horse stance while fighting, that’s impractical and exaggerated. I said it illustrates the stability provided by a wide stance (slightly outside shoulder width) and keeping a bit low (slightly bent knees) as opposed to having a narrow stance and standing at full height while fighting.

        1. So we agree. Good. Funky stances can build useful attributes, and can be dropped into for effect at specific times in a fight, but shouldn’t be used as a primary fighting stance. Not everyone who practices TMAs realizes that.

  3. Keeping the torso straight and the core muscles fit is a BIG deal. Let me tell you my story (short):
    For years I worked outdoors,but as my skills grew, and I got tired of being an underpaid dog getting rained and snowed on for peanuts, I got skills and went to work indoors.
    But a problem developed: bad digestion. Constant heartburn of the sort that even laying down made it worse and when that heartburn kicked in, my acidity shot up and this would give me aches and pains and irregular heart rate (the body is acting like it’s an infection). The only way, it seemed, not to have trouble was not to eat. I got to where if I had “things to do” I never ate. I could go for days without eating, and did.
    What I didn’t realize is that I was developing a slouch from being so tired all of the time. Having had my formative years on construction sites, I mistakenly felt that office jobs were not like “real” jobs (in certain respects that true but work is taxing still) so I could go long hours and did. This made me more tired, and made me slouch more.
    The more I slouched the progressively worse things got over the years. Visibly, while I run 6 miles every other day and exercise overall daily, I was developing a gut – sure it did not have a lot of fat over it but it was a gut “hanging out” nonetheless. That was part of my bad posture. I was also getting “trucker butt” – meaning no butt at all. I could have worn suspenders but hated those things, but had to pull my pants up a lot.
    Eventually a chiropractor told me that my problems might be coming from something changing the shape of my stomach.
    So one day I tried to stand up straight. My middle back went into spasm and I got cramps in my hips. Muscles not in use perhaps?
    I used a weight belt for support as a test and for the first time in years my stomach stopped bothering me.
    I considered back supports – think of it like a corset for men, but the word is derived from “core” and it was my core muscles neglected, even though I exercised almost daily, did calisthenics, martial arts, ran, etc. Lots of time spent slouching in chair you see.
    So I opted for something closer to yoga (though not directly) and come up with plank exercises and constant vigilance to fix my “Core Set”. My digestion is improved, the hearburn is a rare occurrence now my gut is not sagging out like a sack of wet clothes hanging off the end of a countertop, and i got my arse back too.
    Pro tip: if your mother told you to stand up straight, should have listened.

    1. You went from Hank Hill to John Redcorn.
      My grandfather also used to tell me to keep my back straight… Another point for traditional wisdom.

  4. I remember this dreaded stance when I took Karate in my pre-teen days. We had a hardcore old-school instructor from over-seas, and he would have us stay in this position for over an hour (in a 2 hours class). He would make his rounds and whip us with a wooden cane in various parts of the body, and anyone who broke out of position would get “6 inches” as a punishment. 6 inches is where you are laying on the floor on your back, with only your feet raised 6 inches above the floor. You would have to maintain the 6 inch position for 5 mins, minimum. It was brutal.

    1. Ha, yeah. I took Karate and remember the horse stance very well. If you weren’t low enough our instructor would kick the back of our knees until we learned. Happy memories.

  5. Good article. Reminds me of my Choy lay fut Kung fu days. If you like stance training, you might want to ask your Sifu about zhan zhuang stance training as done in the internal martial arts such as xingyiquan, yiquan, and taijiquan. Baguazhang uses circle walking for similar mind/body training. It’s powerful stuff.
    I would caution against trying to take powerful kicks with your stance. No matter how strong your legs, it is safer to learn to check leg kicks a la Muay Thai or mma. It can be done in a higher, more mobile stance, and teach your opponent a painful lesson to boot ( ask Anderson Silva).

    1. You’ve gotta be careful checking kicks if you don’t have properly conditioned shins. You just can’t expect someone without proper conditioning to check leg kicks without getting massive shin bruises. I’ve seen guys come in to the gym and check leg kicks thrown at 40-50% and just drop in pain. The best way for someone to deal with leg kicks and doesn’t wanna be annoyed by them is just to brace and counter with a punch to the jaw.

      1. You’re not wrong. It goes without saying that any technique should be trained properly under a qualified coach/wai kru/sensei/Sifu/whatever. The Kung fu horse stance the author is talking has the front foot turned in, so it is very poorly suited to taking Thai style round kicks. It’s poorly suited to checking kicks also. The Shaolin styles leave a lot to be desired compared to Muay Thai, mma, Dutch kickboxing, kyokushin, or even good old boxing.

  6. Sorry, but traditional (non-MMA) martial arts are blue pill bullshit.
    “I am told not to give away any of the secrets of my kung fu school to the public”. Secret knowledge is evidence that you are in a cult scam. Do boxing gyms refuse to teach “secret techniques”?
    “One of the most common pieces of advice from the practical self defense gurus is to just kick a person in the knee. The knees are a weak point and easy to break in the average person.” It is perfectly legal to kick the knees in Muay Thai and MMA. When have you actually seen it work?

    1. Agreed. I spent over a decade in the traditional Chinese martial arts. I still have fondness for them, and they can be valuable from a fitness and mind/body integration perspective; but if fighting skill is one’s goal, then mma,boxing,Muay Thai,BJJ,judo, and sambo offer much faster and more reliable results.

      1. Muay Thai in particular has always impressed me. I have a few acquaintances that are really invested in it and I’ve observed them “deadening” their shins. Lots of discipline, and very practical. Still, I take the authors point.

        1. Muay Thai is great, especially when paired with a good grappling art. Nothing wrong with TMAs, but they’re a longer path, with more detours along the way. Also more culty behavior.

      2. I am the guy who wrote the comment and I agree. I trained in Wing Chun and also think Bagua is beautiful. But they don’t really work. I agree on your list. Muay Thai crossed with no-gi Judo is my combo; with just enough BJJ in case you hit the ground.

        1. Bagua is beautiful, and I’ve used some palm changes as throws and trips in randori, but there is way too much useless stuff thrown in. Judo, on the other hand, is very practical once you adapt to the lack of a gi “on teh streetz”. As for wing chun, well chi sao is a good exercise, but the over all training method is pretty useless.

    2. Dead on. Another point of note in this article is that the power of kicks comes from the rotation of the hips. It doesn’t really have a lot to do with the strength of your legs. A powerful core is much more valuable than “strong legs”. Doing stances will not make your kicks powerful. Learning proper form and technique will make your kicks more powerful.

      1. Agreed. A lot of the Kung fu kicks do come more from thigh/quad strength, however. They throw the snappy round kick like tae kwon do guys do, and lots of side kicks, back kicks, and front snap kicks. Power generation is a lot different from Thai round kicks or teeps.

      2. Strong legs are of vital significance in throwing a powerful kick. I’m not sure what you mean by a “powerful core”. Never heard of such a thing. A “strong” core in terms of stability, obviously is important but the power from a kick comes from the strength in your legs increased exponentially by the rotation of your hips. Increase the strength of any of these (hips, legs, core) and you will increase the power of your kick.

        1. Crap posture robs you of about 40% of your potential power for performing an athletic movement.

        2. I agree about the need for proper form and posture. How did you arrive at the figure of 40%?

        3. You’ve never heard of a “powerful core?” By “core,” that refers to the abdominal muscles and other muscles of the midsection on the front and sides, and the lower back muscles. Both strong core muscles and strong leg muscles are essential for throwing powerful kicks.

        4. I don’t think the word “powerful” is the correct term to apply to your core. Its a bit like saying your car has a powerful chassis (frame). Nobody would say this. Your core is not a power generator, its a stabilizer. Thus, yes a strong core is vital but to say it is “powerful” is nonsensical to me.

        5. I would have to respectfully disagree. The core is actually a power generator. When you punch or kick, yes, part of the power comes from the arm or leg, but a good deal of the rotational power also comes from the core, and in particular when kicking. Also in grappling and wrestling. If you grab your opponent and he grabs you and you are trying to take each other down, part of the ability to do so depends on the core strength.

        6. The core muscles are first and foremost stabilizers. What you are talking about is force transfer i.e. transferring the force or power generated by your legs. So you generate the power from the floor using your legs and transfer it by rotating your hips. Without using your legs you will have very little force for your hips to transfer. If you doubt this, try throwing a punch without using your legs.

        7. They are stabilizer muscles, such as if you get punched or kicked or when kicking or punching, but at the same time, they also are capable of contracting to generate force on their own. The stronger and more forceful they are, the more explosive and forceful the rotational capability they will have. If you throw a round kick, it will be a combination of the core doing a combination of stabilizing and force transfer but also in providing rotational power on its own to help make the kick more forceful.

        8. You are not following the flow of force. The force starts with your feet when you push off the floor. This is “force generation”. Feet to hips to hand or back to a foot. Furthermore, you are confusing force conversion with force generation. This is like when you convert potential energy into kinetic energy.
          When you don’t use your hips correctly you waste energy. Correct use of your hips allows you to throw a more efficient kick (i.e. with reduced energy loss and thus a more powerful kick.
          But try throwing a kick with just your hips. Impossible.
          I suggest you speak to a physio about core muscles because if you use your core as a power generator you are going to get injured. I speak from experience.

        9. I am not saying the core is the central generator, but rather that it contributes. Of course with a kick or punch, the force is also generated from the limb doing the hitting.

      3. So go to a bodybuilding gym and do squats and leg presses for strength/muscle mass. Then practice kicks on Thai pads and punching bags. I don’t see where the horse stance plays any role in either leg strength or kicking power. Do Ramon Dekkers or Anderson Silva spend hours each day in a horse stance?

    3. Utter crap. Excuse me for saying that.
      Traditional martial arts are in no way blue pill. It might be your teacher or the school you attended. Having practiced weng chun (not to be confused with wing chun) for a significant portion of my life, I have realised that it is in fact a martial ART. The reason there are secret tchniques is because some basic values and understandings must be taught before one can properly deal with the responsibility that comes with being able to use your body as a weapon. Kung fu has taught me a lot. It boosted my confidence, it helped me improve myself and help others and most of all it taught me responsibility. It is more than a sport. It is philosophy far beyond the grasp of the average person. Now you must realise that these techniques are also kept “secret” because the people who know these skills don’t want to waste their time with people who would not be able to properly understand what comes with these skills. The monks who practiced weng chun believed that in order to understand how to break a bone, you must understand how to heal the break. It combines the ethics and philosophy of kung fu with traditional chinese medicine. This art was taught in order for the monks to be able to protect themselves and the monastry. Weng chun, because of that, has become an art that has evolved over the ages. It is similair to MMA and more dynamic than the average style of kung fu. It teaches meditation, reflection, discipline. It is important to train the mind as well as the body. It teaches to overcome pain and to endure it. It teaches how to prevent and to solve violent situations. Violence is not the goal. Ending violence is. In that way it teaches a person to face their fears, step up to conflicts and to resolve them in whatever way may be appropriate in the given situation. It is foolish to compare boxing to kung fu in any way as boxing is a sport. Martial arts are as they say, an art or even more so a way of life.

      1. Well said.
        I also think that some people mistake the Western “versions” of Eastern Martial Arts for the same thing.

      2. First of all, “your Sifu is doing it wrong” is known as the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Second, Weng Chun is Andreas Hoffman’s system? Well Hoffman also teaches BJJ, so he obviously sees the value in modern combat sports training. Traditional CMAs can develop some really interesting skill sets. The average person will develop more well rounded skills in a shorter amount of time in MMA. Time is valueable, especially since we also have to train Glock-fu, Sig-quan, and AR15-ryu. Now I have to go do some xingyiquan forms training and baguazhang circle walking, but keep thinking I’m some bro in a tap out shirt. We probably have more in common than you think. Good training.

        1. Correct. It is the system that was taught to Andreas hoffman by previous ancestors of the line. And yes he also teaches BJJ. Weng chun is also usefull in sanda. One could argue that he sees the importance of modern combat sports. I believe it is more important to evolve the traditional sport. Evolving does not mean traditional values have to be left behind. In that way it still means more to me than most modern sports. We probably do have a lot in common though. Keep up the training!

        2. CMA groups that train for sanda/sanshou tend to train the right way. Once you throw hard sparring and full resistance into the mix, traditional arts get a lot more effective. I don’t think it’s an either/or thing, but we shouldn’t ignore the contributions of modern sport science and the excellent testing ground the cage/ring represents. My second Sifu teaches Yim Wing Chun and Fukien White Crane, so I’ve actually spent a lot of time around arts in the weng chun “family”. As long as you spar people from other arts regularly, and don’t view martial arts through style loyalty blinders, you should be fine.

      3. Philosophy/art/ethics/tradition/etc is just woo to cover up the ineffectiveness of ineffective fighting systems. In the past fifteen years, over thousands of fights, has anyone ever used Weng Chun (or pick a non-sport MA) effectively in an MMA, boxing, Vale Tudo, K-1 or other format fight? If not, why not?
        Don’t tell me it is somehow immoral to scientifically test your system by fighting against willing combatants in open forums.
        Don’t tell me you rely on “deadly techniques” that are illegal in “mere sports”. Any wrestler, boxer, MMA fighter, etc. can take down an assailant and twist his arm, or punch him in his belly, and not seriously hurt him. If you get into a bar brawl tonight, are you going to be unable to defend yourself with Weng Chun unless you use “deadly techniques”?

        1. Yeah, the idea that skills which would get you destroyed in a low level amateur MMA fight, would somehow allow you to defeat Fedor Emilienenko in a no rules situation, is dangerous and delusional.

        2. Weng chun has indeed proven usefull in such tournaments. I suggest you do some research before you judge as harshly. I have succesfully defended myself before and will be able to do so in the future as I do not rely on “deadly techniques”. I rely on being trained and practiced. I rely on taking down an opponent and ending the violent situation in whichever way is called for. Perhaps the reason this system has not been used, is because only very few people have heard about it. The idea that a sport like boxing is more usefull is almost silly. Pit a boxer against an untrained fighter and the boxer will win. Have the boxer face someome trained in martial arts and speak again. The average person does not know how to fight. The average boxer knows how to fight the average person or the average boxer.

        3. Have you sparred many boxers? They tend to have really fast hands, great combos, excellent power, great footwork, and excellent head movement (a defensive skill which is neglected in most traditional martial arts). Don’t underestimate boxing. If it was created in the east it would be called a martial art.

        4. I do mauy thai.
          When westerners started Maui Thai and joined tournaments in Thaliand, they creamed the natives.
          The reason? The native Thai boxers couldn’t deal with the sweet science of western boxing.
          Boxing is probably the best hand striking art out there.

        5. Yep. IIRC, the hand technique deficiencies in Muay Thai led to the fusion of Thai and Western boxing technique in Dutch Kickboxing. Dutch kickboxers of course dominated K1, dominate Glory (there’s a Glory card tonight- woohoo!), and even won a bunch at lumpini. Boxing is no joke.

        6. In a “no rules” fight, people don’t use MMA techniques, they use guns dude.

        7. Nice trolling. I’m a big proponent of firearms training. Most serious firearms trainers recommend some hand to hand training as a back up to your carry piece. I was making an ironic commentary on the false street vs sport dichotomy, but I think you know that.

        8. We’re talking about MMA as a training method, not as a spectator sport. As a training method, MMA tends to produce fighters who can strike, wrestle, and submission grapple proficiently. You might try actually contributing to the thread, instead of making “MMA is gay” jokes that were played out in 2002. Come on, share your wisdom. What martial art do you train in?

        9. I have always considered it a martial art. Bonded with Muay Thai is it a fantastic method.

        10. Yeah, the level of striking displayed in MMA pales in comparison to what you will see on display in Muay Thai, boxing, or K-1/ Glory, but it’s getting better.

        11. Agreed. The old London prize ring rules even included throws, backfists, and other martial artsy stuff.

    4. First of all, an important part of being a martial artist is to respect all martial arts regardless of whether you think they are inferior to yours or not. You may be surprised one day.
      Secondly, you don’t kick the knee in Muay Thai. Generally, leg kicks strike the thigh or the nerves on the inside of the thigh just above the knee. A knee strike from Kung Fu will hit the knee cap causing it to shift resulting in a serious ligament tear if the impact is hard enough. A well stuck Karate kick will shatter your knee. Trust me, I have experienced these kinds of kicks.

      1. I come from traditional martial arts and have bad a rib cracked by a Choy lay fut spinning back kick. I’ve. Used taijiquan and baguazhang techniques to counter throws in judo randori. Combat sports tend to give a little more bang for the buck with regards to training time put in. Also, Muay Thai is a sportifiction of older tho arts like Muay boran, Muay chaya, and lethway. It’s traditional is the same sense that judo and BJJ are traditional.

        1. Have there not always been “sport” between various schools of martial art? A testing process before you take your art to battle?

        2. Perhaps in the old days, but there are many TMA schools which discourage competition outside the dojo, and even some which do not spar in the dojo. It’s the “we’re too deadly for the ring” syndrome. Krav Maga, aikido, wing chun are all guilty of this. There are groups of the aforementioned styles that train the right way. It sounds like your aikido dojo was one of them.

        3. The focus of my Aikido dojo was techniques that work in a combat situation. I know what you mean by these noon-sparring martial arts. You can’t really spar in a combat martial art. We would just drill over and over at an increasingly faster pace so that the techniques became second nature.

        4. The closest I came to aikido training was two years of traditional Japanese jujutsu (I think it was yoshin- ryu) taught along side shorinji-ryu karate. We sparred at that dojo, mainly with our ne waza (ground stuff). There are some aspects of distance and timing that are hard to learn without sparring, and learning to deal with spontaneous attacks is a lot different from a pre-arranged drill. Of course, with your Muay Thai training, you know all of that already.

        5. I should explain better. The “pre-arranged” drills would ultimately focus on random attacks, from random directions by multiple opponents. Obviously the idea is that you learn to deal with an unexpected attack.
          I agree that there is a fundamental weakness in Aikido. The lack of striking techniques and sparring. This is why I took up Muay Thai. I note that the best instructors I had in Muay Thai (and the man that developed it) had deep backgrounds in fast paced striking martial arts.

        6. Gotcha. Drills with spontaneous attacks are good. Taiji, Bagua, and xingyiquan all have a lot of that going on.
          I don’t mind the lack of striking in aikido. It’s a grappling art. BJJ and judo lack striking, too. The lack of ground work bothers me, as that’s a range many grappling arts cover.
          I agree about the value of training in fast paced traditional striking arts. My karate/ jujutsu sensei, my Choy lay fut Sifu, and my xingyi/Bagua/taijiquan Sifu are all scary dudes who can make their arts work. The lack of sparring is a methodological failing, not a failing of technique. The Choy lay fut school sparred hard on a weekly basis, and we could fight with our “ineffective” art as a result.

      2. You don’t kick the knee in Muay Thai because knee kicks don’t work. It is perfectly legal to kick the knee.
        Boxing, wrestling, muay thai, Japanese jujitsu (the ancestor of Judo and BJJ) and MMA (ancient Greek Pankration) are all “traditional arts” in the sense that they are hundreds of years old. “Traditional art” now a days is taken to mean non-sport martial arts. Non-sport martial don’t work well for two reasons: 1. On an individual level, the fighter doesn’t get realistic feedback; and 2. On a system level, the martial art does not get realistic feedback.

        1. Excellent comment. The lack of pressure testing is a big problem in traditional martial arts. Sport arts all work their techniques at speed against a fully resisting opponent. That is rare in TMAs. Also, most serious fighter types these days choose sport arts, so you have better training partners. The average Kung fu kwoon consists of aging hippies, kids, newbies who think Jet Li and Donnie Yen movies are documentaries, and Asianphiles who want to be Caine from Kung Fu. Not a lot of hard sparring to be had with those types.

        2. You don’t kick the knee in Muay Thai because they do work. I speak as one who has been kicked in the knee by someone who does what you call “traditional” martial arts and it injured me, putting me out of training for weeks. I had to ask the guy not to throw that kick at me again. There is no knee kick in Muay Thai. Remember, I told you I had experienced these kicks. I have also trained in them. I am not saying this stuff just for the hell of it.
          I wonder what you mean by “non-sport” martial arts not “working well”. Before I did “sport” MA I did non-sport MA. Karate and Aikido. I trained with some hard men who had real fighting experience outside of the safety of the ring. There is no doubt that these arts helped me immensely in winning street fights as a youth, by adding a new dimension to my combat ability. Don’t be so quick to write off methods you do not truly understand.

        3. I won’t say that sport fighting doesn’t help, it does. But it can lead you into a false sense of security about combat in the street. You do not fight a fully resisting opponent in the ring. You fight someone obeying the same rules as you.

        4. True, but full contact within a fairly open rule set is the closest we can come to a “real fight” without a felonious assault being committed. Weapons are primary on ” the streets”. Still, techniques you have sparred with and used in competition will be more reliable than techniques you have only used in compliant drills.

        5. I agree to an extent. When in an extremely stressful situation you will fall back on instinct. So if someone comes at you with a knife if you have trained over and over with disarming techniques you will automatically begin the technique. The important thing is not to think about it other wise you will move too slow.

        6. Yeah, muscle memory and a calm reactive “unthinking” mind (mushin) is key. It’s interesting that the Filipino Martial Arts, masters of the knife, train a lot with sticks as knife analogs, so that they can spar with their blade techniques.

    5. OP is talking about a stance to be used for overcoming mental barriers. Not which martial art rules them all.

    6. Kicking the knees will most definitely work if done right. You just have to have the shin connect with the side of the knee joint, which one cannot do much about strength-wise. The idea though that horse stance will make a knee immune to knee kicks is nonsense. No amount of strength training can make a knee immune to kicks because the side of the knee cannot be made all that stronger.

  7. People who look for the ultimate martial art technique are like the guys who look for the 100% fool-proof way to get laid, it doesn’t exist. Stop looking for the easy effortless way out to becoming strong and put in the work necessary. Remember everything in this world has a price, if you want something you need to pay for it, through time, effort, and dedication.

  8. “yoga warrior pose” without the quotes. And yes, it’s great for building the thighs.
    When done in a hot room (“hot yoga”), yoga can be very challenging. The best all-around exercise in the opinion of many because it combines sweating (sauna), resistance (this pose does indeed make the thighs burn), cardio (when done with vigor, hot yoga really gets the heart pounding) and of course stretching.

  9. I strongly recommend that Roosh V forum removes the ‘Male Feminist’ title given to the newbies and replace it with something less humiliating.

  10. This article is probably vastly underrated by the visitors. The horse stance is deceptively basic, so much so that people presume it doesn’t do much for the body/mind. I would lay money that the horse stance is second only to walking in terms of strengthening the body.
    Excellent choice of topic, good article.

  11. To all those who have imbibed the haterade without first checking your premises: the ancient martial arts often have merit once examined under the lens of modern science. Isometric holds (which is what this technique is called in exercise physiology) hold water, no pun intended:
    For the ADD, TL;DR crowd (who need this training the most), the article states that “,,,Hettinger and Muller found a single daily effort of two-thirds of a person’s maximum effort exerted for six seconds at a time for ten weeks increased strength about 5% per week, while Clark and associates demonstrated static strength continued to increase even after the conclusion of a five-week program of isometric exercises.”
    “One of the biggest issues people often cite is that isometrics will only work at that specific joint angle. However, Mel Siff noted in his book Supertraining:
    …isometric training also produces significant strength increase over a range of up to as much as 15 degrees on either side of the training angle. Moreover, as with all strength measurements, there is a specific force or torque versus joint angle curve for each type of muscle contraction, so that it is highly unlikely that a strength increase would be confined to a very precise angle and nowhere else in the range.””

    1. The criticism levied at traditional martial arts has more to do with the fighting skills developed than the worthiness as a fitness activity. Horse stance training, obsolete weapons training, forms/ katas/ Tao Lu, etc. are not useless; but time might be better spent hitting pads and bags, sparring, rolling, doing road work, even weights and kettle bells. Fighting styles designed to work against a guy in Hunan province in 1765, might not be ideal in the era of MMA. And I’ve trained in various traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Okinowan systems in addition to modern sport training, so no haterade here.

      1. IMO, I don’t think the system supposedly designed to work against the guy in Hunan province in 1765 would have worked then either. Traditional martial arts do not lack effectiveness because they are out of place in the modern world, they lack effectiveness just because they lack effectiveness.

  12. funny. We started trying to give advice on how to get laid, how to be fun with women and with people, how to be social, how to improve your looks and be more productive and generally try to live life to the fullest..
    And we ended taking the same paracultural way of the hipsters, the emos, the nerds, following weird passions like karate, or knowing a lot about autistic stuff like ancient history (Q. Curtius lol) and generally going mgtow.
    When all you should write about is: Throw the fucking computer out of the window for 6 months, start taking common interests with people, start harrassing girls, build a reputation that will defend you against women’s creepy radar, get some kind of cool vibe.
    But no, let’s talk about being an autistic karate kid, it make you seem the cool victim of the world.
    Go play some fucking football and insult your opposing team instead.

    1. So basically go full woman and devote yourself entirely to socializing. Having some “creepy” passions make you an individual instead of a drone. But yeah, your advice will result in more sex (but less soul, imho).

        1. Don’t read heartiste actually. Heard the name, don’t know what it is and never bothered to look it up. Ya game is social skill. Doesn’t mean that is all there is in life. Women tend to absolutely live for socializing; a heterosexual male shouldn’t have that level of passion for it. Don’t have to be antisocial or anything but you should have some interests outside of gossip/pop culture/relationships and all the other bs that goes into socializing; otherwise your just another bitch.

    2. Choosing one’s hobbies based on how the world views them isn’t exactly alpha behavior. Ability to defend oneself, on the other hand, is a trait of an alpha. I think modern combat sports training is more effective than Shaolin Kung fu training, but martial arts training is cool. Chicks dig it. This isn’t the ’80’s, when martial arts training was for nerds. MMA changed that. MMA also changed the way many of us approach our training, but I think the author will get there with time.

    3. I think you’re right that to throw your computer out the window for six months is a solid way to go towards actually living.
      But the idea that everyone should trade knowledge, mastery, and variety of experience to be “alpha” football hero-guy who can tie his shoes pretty retarded.

      1. Yeah. Both the anus3 screen name and the “play football” advice suggest he’s very young. Most of us graduated high school long ago, so going out for varsity isn’t really practical advice. Oh well. When I was 15 I didn’t have any interesting hobbies either.

    4. Having studied martial arts for a few decades, I can assure you that it will only better all aspects of your life. You are crirical of something you know nothing about.
      You do indeed sound young and inexperienced in life. My suggestion to you is to pry open your mind. I promise that only good will come of it over the long haul.

  13. In case you haven’t noticed,
    Russia and China have made uneasy accords.
    Russia is becoming bold on the east and China is becoming bold in the Pacific.
    They are preparing for war.
    While we in the west argue over third bathrooms for transexuals.
    We are our undoing.

    1. The West has to realise that other countries can talk to each other and coordinate their actions…if simultaneously there was Chinese action against taiwan and the disputed islands in the south china sea, north korean moves to take south korea, russian action in ukraine and dramatic developments in the Middle East, what would happen…the US would only be able to focus on one conflict out of four.

    2. Insightful and well articulated – I’ve been beating that drum for years. Side question: Have you ever read a book called “The Return of History and The End of Dreams?” It covers that ground in great detail.

    3. The sooner the Russians and Chinese defeat Amerika, the better. We will either have better foreign overlords or the ones we have now will be much weakened and less able to enforce their marxist, feminist, homosexualist agenda.

      1. How exactly to you “defeat” a country with thousands of nuclear missiles? Drone airplanes, tanks, ships and drone soldiers, supplemented by special forces, mercenaries and local auxiliaries, will probably be the core of conventional (non-nuclear) forces in 20-30 years. So it doesn’t really matter how wussy the average American is. The valor of the citizen soldier ceased having any relevance to national security the day of the first nuclear explosion was detonated in Alamogordo.

    4. 1.There is nothing valuable to be found in Europe and North America to cause them to invade. The opposite is true – the US and EU are salivating over the natural resources of Russia.
      2.Fixing the West is the responsibility of westerners, an unsuccessful war is not going to wake up Miley Cyrus fans to the realities of the real world. The y would still want to live on borrowed time.
      3.Any action Russia has taken regarding Georgia and Ukraine has been provoked by all kinds of US-financed organizations.

      1. 1) There isn’t? That would have been big news to the Soviets who for much of the Cold War wanted to invade and conquer all of Western Europe. And no, the U.S. and EU are not “salivating” over anything in Russia.
        2) Agree
        3) Actually no, it is due to Putin wanting to re-build the Russian empire. Georgia was about expanding Russian power and attempting to intimidate America’s Eastern European allies in the region. Crimea was about securing an important part (to Russia) of Ukraine, a warm water port. Ukraine itself is a large security priority for Russia as during the Soviet days it made up much of Soviet agricultural production.

  14. Jesus save us. These comments are inane as all hell. This is a great post for learning a new iso hold. Iso holds strengthen the mind and the body. It’s not as if most of you people are really going to be in a fight anyway. Martial arts are useful in their own ways as are fighting sports. Get over it homies…

  15. Thanks for writing this, always welcome to see more writing on the martial arts.
    As a commentary exercise, that helps develop pliant, flexible knees (important in the Japanese grappling arts), I like doing Tori Fune Undou, or boat rowing exercise. With one leg forward and bent, and the other straight, throw your arms straight forward while bending your forward knee, the motion taking you forward and lower on an inclined plane. Your weight should be over your forward knee, and feet should remain fixed at all times. Straighten your forward leg, while shifting your weight on to your rear leg, while moving your arms as if pulling oars back towards your self. Repeat, and switch legs. This will develop a soft yet powerful spring-action in your knees, key in developing lethal, effective throws.

  16. All exercises that strengthen the body strengthen the mind if done with focus and discipline.
    Likewise, all activities are meditations (yoga) if done in a meditative state of mind.
    The only “secret” to be revealed is yourself; to yourself.

  17. I wonder if this may be useful for preventing leg / knee injuries in hockey. Caused by twisting forces such as a skate turning in suddenly, catching a rut , or collision.

    1. Yes, hip and knee injuries can be prevented or fixed by practicing horse stance.

  18. Holy homosexual sex batman! That looks remarkably similar to what Ssgt Conboy did to one recruit when he was mouthing off.
    If i remember correctly, it went something like this:
    guy: (chatting in the background to a girl)
    Ssgt: Hey there, am i boring you?
    guy: no sir, just getting to know my fellow Dep’s.
    (people laugh)
    Ssgt: i think you’re in the wrong place boy! We aint’ here to be diplomats!
    guy: ok sure.
    Ssgt Conboy (visibly irritated) you wanna watch tv son?
    guy: what?
    Ssgt: Am i talking chinfuckingese? i said do you wanna watch tv?
    guy: yeah sure! i like tv
    (people snicker)
    Ssgt: good! now come on up here.
    (guy walks up to the front of the room)
    Ssgt: Ok now just let me show you how you’re supposed to watch tv around here. first i want you to place your back against this wall here…
    (guy does as he’s told)
    Ssgt: Then i want you to hold your hands out at a horizontal level…
    ( he does what he’s told)
    Ssgt: Now here comes the fun part! bend your knees at a perfect and i do mean PERFECT 90% angle until your butt is almost touching the floor, and keep your hands out!
    (guy does as he’s told, but he is visibly annoyed as he gets what’s going on)
    Ssgt (to crowd of Deps)
    Now you see here! This is how we teach romeos how to watch tv in my beloved Corp! While i talk with the rest of you maggots, you can watch mr happy here have fun watching tv! Let me know if he falls off the chair while im talking!
    (the crowd laughs)
    So yeah…this exercise technique reminds me of that to a T. I had to go through it myself as part of training and i can say, it can be brutal.

  19. I recommend Krav Maga for anyone looking to adopt some practical fighting skills that don’t involve a lot of fancy kung fu moves.
    Time is of the essence and Krav teaches you to do the maximum amount of damage in the least amount of time possible, on one or multiple opponents.

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