Neko-ashi-dachi (literally: “cat’s foot stance”), or cat stance is a transitional movement. Do not remain in cat stance for any prolonged time. However, any time you move your feet to transition from one stance to another, there will be a brief moment spent in a cat stance.
[video stepping from one front stance to another from the side; then a slow-motion version of this which highlights the moment when your enter cat stance.]
In a proper cat stance, the rear supporting leg carries 90% of your bodyweight. The rear foot points 45° outward. The rear knee is slightly bent. The front toes point straightforward, one shoulder-width away from the rear leg. Only the toes and the ball of the front foot contact the ground; the heel is raised, so that the instep is flush with the shin, like ballerina's foot. The front foot only carries 10% of your bodyweight -- just enough to maintain your balance.
Phrased differently, stand in a ready stance, and shift your weight to one side. Make a one-eighth turn to the other side, raise that heel, and sink.
Unlike other karate styles, the Goshin-Jutsu cat stance does not use a “T”-shaped foot placement. “T”-cat stances unnecessarily twists the knee, hindering mobility and places unnecessary stresses on this critical joint.
[photo of cat stance from the front and side.]
When performed correctly, cat stance will makes your quadriceps feel like they are on fire; this is especially true for tall or lanky individuals. If you feel no discomfort, then your stance is obviously too high, and you need to lower your center until you feel the burn. Leg power is the driving force behind all karate techniques, and this is achieved by not raising you center when transitioning from one stance to another. Bobbing up and down as you step robs the power from your techniques by converting the leg’s energy into worthless vertical motion, instead of driving it all into your opponent.
[video stepping from one in and out of cat stance; once properly, and once while bobbing.]
Extended cat stance
An extended cat stance, is just like a cat stance, except the front is two shoulder-widths away from the rear leg.
Phrased differently, stand in a horse stance, and shift your weight to one side. Make a one-eighth turn to the other side, raise that heel, and sink.
[photo of extended cat stance from the front and side.]
Inverted cat stance
One common transition executed from cat stance is an inverted cat stance. From a cat stance, simultaneously lower one heel while raising the other. This sneaky move allows you to switch leading sides without any upper body motion! With this, you can deceive an opponent by suddenly moving in any direction.
[video of inverting cat stance]