|Related to||Shardblades, Ten Essences|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”A stance is about more than just looking great on the battlefield. It’s about footing, center of balance, and control of the fight.—Adolin, to Shallan
Many Shardbearers have preferred stances, though may switch to others in specific situations. The shape and length of a Shardblade may affect this choice. Other factors include the circumstances on the battlefield or the user's own personality and level of expertise. However, the best swordsmen are familiar with all stances in order to better anticipate and counter their opponent. The stances require a great deal of practice; even though Kaladin has mastered fighting with a spear, he has some difficulty learning swordsmanship.
Apart from a purely practical standpoint, the stances are an important aspect of Shardbearer culture. When Adolin teaches Shallan how to fight with a Shardblade, he is insistent on proper use of the stances, and speaks to her at length about tradition and respect; for Adolin, the stances are integral to proper reverence of the Shardblade.
Windstance uses sweeping, broad strokes that flow from one attack to the next. It is a two-handed stance with the body turned sideways, elbows bent and the tip pointed up and back over the head. The sweeps are majestic, and come from multiple sides. Sometimes they are small, quick blows that are meant to unnerve their opponent; other times, the sweeps are wide. Windstance is the best stance to use against multiple opponents and can cause many casualties on battle field with its wide sweeps; it is very poor at parrying, though it does have some defined sweeps for doing so. This is Adolin Kholin's favored stance and the most familiar one for Dalinar as well. Since it relies on mobility more than strength, Adolin plans to teach it to Shallan early on when he is teaching her swordfighting. It is very popular among the Alethi in general.
Smokestance is a fluid, one-handed stance that has the blade forward, tip pointed at the heart of their opponent, and one foot placed ahead of the other. Smokestance is better than Windstance for fighting with an imperfect weapon. The key in this stance is to stay in motion at all times. While the blade may move in a whirlwind, it focuses on thrusts rather than sweeps and slashes. One variant of Smokestance is a sword and dagger stance, which uses the dagger primarily as a second line of defense.
Flamestance is an aggressive, sometimes frantic one-handed stance. Unlike other stances, the posture of Flamestance involves squared-off feet. The blade is held in one hand, with the other hand resting on the blade. The stance is favored by those with shorter Shardblades. It is defined by furious constant attacks, but is weak to disarming as a result of the one-handed grip.
Vinestance is a defensive stance that focuses on defensive footwork and flexibility. It is slow and steady, but has sudden, quick lunges. Relis Ruthar, the former Alethi dueling champion, prefers this stance.
Ironstance is a strong stance with a two-handed grip, sword held next to the head, and uses strong overhead blows.
Stonestance is a form that relies on raw power. The stance involves holding the sword in front, arms fully extended, tip pointing straight up. On offense, the focus is on delivering as much momentum as possible in each blow; a characteristic strike, for example, involves jumping up, lifting the blade behind the head, and making a diagonal downward cut. When on defense, the stance relies on staying immobile and is one of the few that uses parrying. Since it doesn't require much strength to cut most things with Shardblades, this stance is largely impractical when not fighting a Shardbearer. Stonestance is considered the immovable stance and provides solid footing in combat.
Bloodstance is a stance in which the wielder doesn't care about getting hit, mostly used in desperate circumstances.
There are three more stances, corresponding to the Essences of Tallow, Lucentia and Sinew; however, they have not as of yet been featured in the books. In addition, Singers may use stances unfamiliar to humans.
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