How to Make Friends With 60:40 Stance

Kung Fu Stance  60:40We have been practicing and discussing how to make friends with 60:40 stance in our recent community classes. This is where 60% of the weight is on the back leg, and 40% is on the front leg. Often the most uncomfortable or difficult to understand stance, where many students are just bearing it until they can pop out of it at the first opportunity. Yet it is of utmost importance because we move through this stance all the time. Going from 50:50 Horse Stance to Bow Stance, or Horse Stance to Empty stance and most places in between, we must move through 60:40. So it teaches us about how to maintain full engagement through transitions. All stances done correctly, feel alive, not inanimate like a stone. Taiji is moving meditation where there is stillness in motion, and motion in stillness. It should dynamically balance the 6 directions, heaviness and lightness, fullness and emptiness. Transitions are agile and adaptable according to what presents from moment to moment.

60:40 is not very far from 50:50. It’s only a 10% differential!

One thing that seems to turn a light on for students is noticing that 60:40 is not very far from 50:50. It’s only a 10% differential! Most of the pain and struggle that come with 6:4 is over-weighting the back leg, usually while sticking the butt or hip out. The shoulders try to lift up to relieve pressure and the mind ignores the front leg completely because we’ll do anything in an attempt to get weight off the back. All those things break integrity of upper and lower alignment, and cuts power off from the roots. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, bending at the waist makes this stance harder and ineffective, not to mention the joint strain and constriction it puts on the knee and hip. Another problem is sitting on the back leg like you’re sitting on a stool. That may feel more relieving, but actually causes further stasis, and reduces agility. Really hard to get up from there, and it wears down the joints too.

Taiji is martial arts, so it must function martially. You should always feel a spring-like energy potential available in the legs, ready to move, shift, be still, or pounce at any moment, with consistency and calm, responding to what arises. Taiji is not sleep-walking or dreamy-slow-dancing that is a departure from the reality of now. Taiji is all about now. It is practical and functional in the most ordinary activities, and hones awareness and vitality in every moment.

Don’t fight against your 60:40

When shifting into and through 60:40, be sure the weight is dropping straight down the center of the leg, rooting in the center of the foot and into the earth. It’s like water flowing down a tube, where the tube is your leg. Don’t put a kink in it, or cause leakage, or cinch the tube by bending at the waist, bearing down, or sticking the butt or hip out. Maximize the efficiency of shifting weight by always referencing the center of your bones and let the weight flow downward with gravity, without resistance. Send energy to both legs, descending 60% into the back, and don’t forget 40% in the front.

The mind is everywhere, observing as if from a watchtower

The mind is everywhere, observing as if from a watchtower, not just in one leg. Let the weight pass through the knees and get all the way to the centers of the feet. Keep the spine straight, Bai Hui (crown point) lifting and feet rooted, at all times. As the weight goes to the lower, the upper (shoulders and neck) become light and free. Don’t fight against your 60:40, see it as a way to store energy in the legs, ready for activation and distribution in the body in a calm and grounded way.

Hope this helps your practice and enjoyment of Taiji, as well as benefiting your joint and tendon longevity.


–Sally Chang, Chief Instructor of Evergreen Taiji Academy


Zhang Sanfeng, from the Taiji Classics

Jìn [intrinsic strength] should be rooted in the feet, generated from the legs, controlled by the waist, and manifested through the fingers.

The feet, legs, and waist should act together as an integrated whole, so that while advancing or withdrawing one can grasp the opportunity of favorable timing and advantageous position.

If correct timing and position are not achieved, the body will become disordered and will not move as an integrated whole; the correction for this must be sought in the legs and waist.

The principle of adjusting the legs and waist applies for moving in all directions; upward or downward, advancing or withdrawing, left or right.

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