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Nekko Ashi -- Jigotai

One thing my Sensei often advises is to try using jigotai dachi instead of nekko ashi dachi in kata. He does not mean that you should replace the nekko ashi, just that you should try the jigotai dachi to feel the difference.

The most obvious difference is that jigotai is a much stronger and more stable stance than nekko ashi. Some schools teach that in nekko ashi the weight distribution should be 90% (back foot) / 10% (front foot). This is pretty unstable and relatively weak. In jigotai, the weight distribution is usually 50% / 50%.

But there is another difference that is perhaps more important. In jigotai dachi, the tanden points in the same direction as it would in Naihanchi dachi. It does not point to the side.

Often, students will turn their tanden in the same direction as their nekko ashi. In Pinan Shidan, for example, students might turn their tanden (and koshi) to the left. But if they used a jigotai dachi instead, they would be more likely to keep their tanden (and koshi) pointing to the front (or close to that).

In our system, we view stances as transitions. As such, it is difficult to say exactly how much weight is on a particular foot at a given time because it depends on what you are doing at that time. But it would be fair to say that we do not use the 90% / 10% weight distribution for nekko ashi, unless we are about to kick. Generally, our nekko ashi is closer to 50% / 50%.

As an experiment, try performing all the Pinan kata using jigotai dachi instead of nekko ashi dachi. You might find that this is an interesting experience. You will notice differences in strength of stance, tanden (koshi) direction, and body alignment. When you have done this a few times, then try using nekko ashi again, but try to use it with a feeling of jigotai. If you can distribute your weight, point your tanden (koshi), and align your body like jigotai, then your nekko ashi will be more useful, and certainly stronger.

It is also very interesting to try jigotai in Wankan. The first few movements suddenly feel much better!

Again, this is just a training practice. I am not saying that you should change your kata.

However, I also understand that there are instances in some of our older kata, where movements using jigotai were changed to nekko ashi. The beginning of Chinto may be an example of this. We assume that our kata have existed in unchanged form since their creation. Generally, this is not true. It is more likely that kata have changed relatively little since they were shown in a book (cemented in print).

Nekko ashi may be an attractice stance, but it is weaker than jigotai and Naihanchi dachi. I believe that Choki Motobu said that he never used nekko ashi and that it really was not part of Karate.

Personally, whenever I practiced kumite with a person who liked to use nekko ashi, it would try to slip their kick and then crash into them. Usually, he would fall down, or be in a weakened position for a throw, trip or takedown!

This would not have worked if the other person had used a firmer nekko ashi, or a stance such as jigotai or Naihanchi dachi.


Charles C. Goodin