The Biomechanics of the Combat Stance

The term “combat” to me, has always been something that is related to all forms of combat, armed and unarmed. It followed me through my years of training in Krav Maga and my service in the IDF. I noticed over the years that each form of combat had its stance, and a lot of the time that stance was similar between the different forms. As an instructor of both armed and unarmed combat, I have always tried to streamline the learning process for my students. As a result, I have consolidated the different stances into one “combat stance.”

Let us first understand what the stance looks like:

  • Feet are parallel and staggered, about shoulder width apart.  The toes are also pointed in the same direction. The Non dominant foot should be forward, but can be switches according to the situation. It is best to think of it as standing inside a square.

  • Feet are flat on the ground with the weight towards the ball of the feet. (Note: the only exception is for hand-to-hand fighting where the back heel needs to be slightly off the ground to allow for hip rotation and bursting.)

  • Knees are slightly bent and pointed in the same direction of the feet.

  • Hands are up by the face or extended for the pistol and rifle grip (read the article: “biomechanics of the handgun grip” for more information)

  • Head comes slightly forward and chin comes slightly down.

  • Note that quadriceps and core muscles should be slightly tense.  

Why is this stance ideal for stability and movement from a biomechanics perspective?

  • The staggered stance “inside the square” creates a strong base which helps us maintain stability from the front, sides, and back.

  • The foot positioning  that is flat on the ground, adds to the stability of the stance as well as helps maintain our weight forward to absorb recoil.

  • Bending the knees and keeping them pointed forward lowers our center of gravity as well as helps maintain a tighter joint capsule in our hip.  This helps stabilizing the hips to prevent movement. (Note: Try it out! Squat in a normal position, feet and knees about 15 degrees out vs feet and knees parallel, see how the range of motion changes).

  • Hands in front of the face help us hit our target quicker, defend, and raise weapon’s sights in front of our eyes.

  • Lowering our head and chin once again helps protect it as well as keep our weight forward and into the fight (Note: for rifle and pistol, this is done prior to bring up the sites). Additionally for shooting, this head position also helps us acquire the sights. Otherwise we would have to hold our firearm above our shoulder line which is extremely taxing on the deltoid and pectoralis muscles. (Note: try it out!  Just hold your phone in your hands extend it away from the body and left it slightly above your shoulder line, how does it feel?)

Although, the above is my personal take on the “Combat Stance” that has developed through years of training there are many ways to modify and adapt this to different applications and combat conditions. This stance has come about in an effort to streamline the learning process for my students, especially those in the law enforcement, military, and private security communities, who have limited time to train and perfect individual techniques.

Thank you for reading, 

Ron Grobman


Tactical Fitness