Topic 1 - Stance

The basic standing position of an archer is very important to his or her overall success. A student should practice their stance carefully, trying as hard as possible to use the same stance every time he or she prepares to loose an arrow. The practice of Korean Traditional Archery teaches that an archer should stand with his or her legs shoulder width apart, with the feet pointed to around the 1 o'clock or 2 o'clock position. Please take note of this difference, when comparing Korean archery to many western archery traditions. The position of an archer's feet for Korean archery should not be parallel nor should they be at right angles to one another. This is a teaching that has been passed down - like the 9 precepts - in traditional Chinese writing, and which date back hundreds if not thousands of years.

Looking carefully at the photo of this Korean archer, you can see the exact position of his feet. The grid lines on the ground show that his stance is neither directly facing the target, nor perpendicular to his direction of loosing an arrow. Instead, he is somewhere in between the 12 o'clock position and the 3 o'clock position. In this way, it could be said that this upper body is then 'twisted.' This matter will be discussed in greater detail later on, when we discuss the topic of drawing the bow. For now, it is important to practice this stance, and to remember that is the most powerful way to increase one's accuracy at archery. A consistent and stable foundation is the only way to gaurantee that your aiming and your arrows will also succeed. Before raising the bow to draw, an archer 'therefore shouldn't be facing the target. Instead, he or she should be facing off to the right of the target, (if the archer is right handed, such as in the photo.) Only once an archer has decided to begin the process of drawing the bow should he or she rotate to face the target.

Having now described the basic position of your lower body, it is important to talk about the muscles in your legs and feet. What this photo cannot show you is that the archer's legs and feet are tense. What this means is that he is not standing casually nor comfortably. His lower body is tensed, and the muscles in his buttocks, calves and even his toes are rigid. Every time an archer is preparing to draw his or her bow, it is very important that he or she remember to solidify all of the muscles in the lower body. Like I mentioned earlier, creating a stable foundation for one's archery starts with this stance, so nothing can be overlooked. Having one's knees bent would weaken this foundation. Placing more weight on either the right or left foot would also instability that would inevitably affect an archer's accuracy, and possibly even safety. One of the physical and meta-physical properties that will recur many times during these lessons is the idea of harmony and balance. On the topic of creating a proper stance, this means that you should always avoid an imbalance or stress, and try to create the most grounded and rock-solid position that you possibly can.

By way of experimenting - and coming to understand the benefits and truth of this philosophy - I invite students to try different stances, and to experiment with different levels of tenseness in their leg muscles. While I mentioned earlier that archers should stand with feet at shoulder width apart, it does sometimes happen that students feel more stable and more secure with their feet either slightly less or slightly more than the standard 'shoulder width.' The answer that will work most successfully for each individual archer will differ because every person has a unique physiology, and different proportions in the length of their legs. Additionally, the body weight of people is distributed differently depending upon age, gender, and overall physical condition, affecting which position will exactly be the most stable for every archer.