The introduction to traditional martial arts usually begins with stance exercises. There is a multitude of different stances in Chinese martial arts. We will show you our basic Zaat Ma exercise, in which you can practice the four most important stances in Hung Kuen.

Stance training as the foundation

Regardless of whether you practice kung fu, taichi, karate, taekwondo or another traditional martial art, the beginning looks very similar in all systems. Usually you learn the most common stands from the respective system at the start. And for good reason, because stance training not only improves strength and endurance, but also ensures the right strength development and body mechanics when combined.

But there are also very basic, simple goals of stance exercises. For example, one should first train to coordinate the feet, or build a better awareness and feeling for one's own body by holding the stances steadily.

Stance training forms our foundation as a martial artist. Without a stable position, we cannot develop strength, cannot perform punches correctly and block our own freedom of movement and responsiveness.


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Our Zaat Ma basic exercise

The Zaat Ma basic exercise was developed by the Wu family and represents an important component of our basic training. No matter whether you are a beginner or a professional, the exercise is equally important for both and should always be repeated regularly. In the Zaat Ma basic exercise, the four most important stances are taught as a combination:

  • Ma Bou o. Sei Ping Ma
  • Gong Bou o. Zi Ng Ma
  • Heoi Bou o. Diu Ma
  • Kei Lun Bou

These four stances usually form the foundation of Hung Kuen. In addition, they are all stances, which beginners learn in our introductory form of Yap Mun Kuen / Jap Mun Kyun. Of course there are many other stances, both in Hung Kuen (Hung Gar, Hung Kyun) and in other systems of Chinese martial arts. For starters, these four are the most important.

Mabou bzw. Sei Ping Ma
Gungbou bzw. Zi Ng Ma
Heoibou bzw. Diu Ma
Keilun Bou


The name Zaat Ma is the Cantonese pronunciation of the two characters and . Zaat () stands for "tie up / tie up" and Ma () stands for both the horse and the stance ( especially in martial arts). This can literally be translated as "tying up the horse / tying up the stance". In the context of Chinese martial arts, this term simply means that one should stand firmly.

Over time, this term has come back into Cantonese slang. Since standing training is associated with hard, sweaty training that requires a lot of discipline and endurance, one describes a person who “stands up to someone” with 紮 哂 馬 (Zaat Saai Ma ), which can be translated as 'one who holds up well'.


Even though yin and yang is a well-known theoretical concept, one should not read too much of this theory into the basic Zaat Ma exercise. Here it is important to put yin and yang in the context of Chinese language usage. Yin and Yang describe pairs of opposites that interact with one another or that alternate in the foreground. In martial arts, therefore, yin and yang are usually meant "alternately".

In the sense of the Zaat Ma basic exercise, the combination can be carried out equally on both the right and the left side. In addition, both sides of the Zaat Ma partner exercise are carried out by both partners.

An expandable system

The Zaat Ma basic exercise is not just a simple stance training. This basic exercise can be expanded with various elements. It accompanies us from the beginning to the advanced level.

The function of the stance training is first of all that we learn the basic stances when we start. The individual stances can later be expanded using hand techniques. So we get a complete sequence of movements.

These individual movements (stances with hand techniques) can then be trained in isolation with a training partner as a "pendulum drill". Like the pendulum on a pendulum clock, a combination of the basic exercise "back and forth" is carried out and repeated.

After that, even a short parter routine (紮馬 對 拆 Zaat Ma Deoi Chaak) can be trained on the basis of the Zaat Ma basic exercise. If the regular version of the Zaat Ma is, for example, side A, the associated side B must be added for the partner form. This includes the same four basic stands with a slight variation.

Zaat Ma Partnerform (Zaat Ma Deoi Chaak)

Our Zaat Ma basic exercise is ideal as part of a larger training program or just as a short workout. Not only is the base learned in the form of stance and hand techniques, you also learn important core principles from the Hung Kuen system through the "pendulum drills" and the partner routine. Stances, footwork, precision, a sense of distance and understanding of these core principles improve in the long run.

So, practice, practice and practice!

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