Do Your Feet Look Like This?
How to Stand Correctly

By: Tom Tew Sensei
NOTE: I first wrote this short article for inclusion in the SCKF newsletter in 1997. Since then, I have kept it in the hands of Covina Dojo’s web site. I am now replicating it for safe keeping on the ISKD web site. The intent of the article to explain correct footwork for beginning kenshi. We hope you find this useful! Photos are of Masataka Sakaue Sensei, 5 Dan, past Head Instructor of Covina Dojo.

Correct foot position is pretty simple if you follow two basic principles- keep everything straight and balanced. Sounds simple, and it is. Just keep the following key points in mind.

Both feet should point straight forward. A common symptom of bad footwork seems to be that the left foot turns with the toes out and heel in (see illustration E). Try this test: stand in kamae with your feet in the proper position- parallel to each other- and step forward, pushing off the left foot. Easy, right? Now try to do the same thing, only this time begin with your left foot twisted. Kendo requires the ability to advance and retreat quickly- this can only be done when your feet are pointed straight.

The side-to-side gap should not be to close or too far apart. The correct width will vary from person to person. A good general rule is that the gap from the heel of the right foot to the big toe of the left foot should be the length of one foot (see illustration B). Feet that are too close creates an unstable base; feet that are too far apart are difficult to move quickly. Ultimately, the gap should be around the width of your hips, providing a firm, stable base to advance from.

The front-to-back gap should always be aligned so that the toe of the left foot is even with the heel of the right foot (see illustration A). If you do kendo in a more upright, standing position or with your feet extremely far apart (illustration D), it is difficult to move. The best image that expresses this is a sprinter in the blocks prior to a race: If the blocks are set too close or too far, the runner cannot start properly- he will either pop up in the air or not explode out. This is true for kendo as well. To be able to move powerfully, this gap must be maintained.

Left and right heel position should create a slightly forward-feeling stance. Many sensei say that the weight distribution should be around 55-60% forward and 40-45% backward, meaning that there is slight favoritism to move forward. This can be easily done by adjusting heel height. The right heel should appear to be so close to the floor that it is touching, but it isn’t- you should be able to just barely slide a piece of paper between the heel and floor. The left heel should be around 1.5″ or 4cm high. Any position higher (illustration C) or lower (illustration D) than this will reduce the ability to move quickly.

That’s all there is to it! Follow these general rules, and you will be on your way to better footwork and posture.

A) Correct Position, Side View:

B) Correct Position, Front View:

C) Bad Position- Heel too High

D) Bad Position- Too Far Apart and Flat:

E) Bad Position: Left Foot Turned: