You are probably looking at this and scratching your head. Applying martial arts monikers to snowboarding is not a normal thing to do, but with a degree of mastery of the sport (high intermediate range and above), a distinctive personal style sets in to become your personal form. And so it's about time those forms should be recognized. The below simply describes four common forms that has been concocted from years of experience and multiple inebriated conversations.

As a rider progresses, he or she picks a form (or the form picks them, depending on how you see it) that suits them best. Factors for selection includes body type, personality, and the terrain that you were conditioned in. Similar to martial arts, these factors have a heavy influence on stance, aggression, self- confidence and fluidity. There are probably more forms out there and feel free to send us your thoughts on it.

The Way of the Dog / The Casual Form
The form is quite a natural one, lending itself to low stress and high endurance. This form is the easiest on the body although not the most technically proficient and does not lend itself to more advanced forms of riding. Dog Riders enjoy the sheer movement of snowboarding and do not feel a need to push themselves to a higher level.

Leg position is highly bent, in a dog-leg shape, hence giving the form its name. The back remains relatively straight with a less than 10 degree slant. All stress is on the inner leg and quadriceps, this therefore alleviates all stress from the back and the neck. The arms stay limply hanging by the sides.

While the easiest stance to maintain, it requires a strong technical mastery to attain it. Several years or riding at high intermediate level are required to assume what is perceived to be the most relaxed stance.

People of easy temperament and low aggression favour this form and its fluidity, thereby precluding the determination required for stuntwork, jumps, and rapid movements required in backcountry territories.

The Way of the Crane / The Grand Stance
This form is all sweeping gestures and expressions of showmanship. The form is open, like the crane stance of kung fu, with arms wide open and out, dispersing the shock on the body, and increasing the balance. It also bears a similarity to a big wave surfer’s stance.

The open wing-like arms make up for the relatively high stance and high center of gravity that this form entails. Balance is only partially maintained by the legs and hips and therefore arms and shoulders make up for the remainder.

This stance is easier to learn and technical proficiency does not have to be complete to achieve this position. Inspiration comes from surfing, and this imitation is relatively easier than other forms. The enjoyment factor in this stance is arguably more compared to other forms due to the psychological factor of simulating a surfing experience on the mountain.

The Crane lends itself well to stunts psychologically, as flamboyancy lends itself to more flamboyancy. Riders of this stance are confident and open-minded to jumps, parks, pipes, and open terrain. McTwists and spins are naturally benefited from the arm-work required in this form. This form looks great and it is the most emulated.

The Way of the Cat / Balanced Form
This form is the rarest of all, being the most technically proficient and perfectly balanced of the stances. This is the hardest to attain, but once mastered, this form lends itself to all forms of advanced riding. It is the culmination of casual ambition, inherent athleticism, and to a hidden degree, compulsive perfectionism. Like a cat, these riders will always land on their feet.

This stance has the same dog-leg position as The Way of the Dog, but keeps the arms out slightly to the side but only for the purpose of balance, not for any grand-sweeping gestures like The Way of the Crane. The back is also slightly tilted leaning forward and only at a 20 to 25 degree angle. The head is kept straight and weight and shock are evenly distributed throughout the body.

The enjoyment of this stance comes from the perfection, the feeling of mastery that they have attained and what is to come. Stunts will be executed well, and better than the other forms, and yet there is still more to learn and with time, it will be done.

The technical proficiency required for this form leads to a confident rider able to master any terrain or stuntwork, however because of technical perfection, the rider may be also rather conservative in their riding assessment. If a rider does not feel comfortable with tackling something new or outside their scope, they may choose not to take on that new aspect or form. Unless perfection is possible, they may choose not to try.

The Way of the Cobra / Crouching Stance
This stance is pure aggression, the opposite of The Way of the Dog. A low crouch with arms ranged in combat fight stance, the body and center of gravity are kept low to the ground. It is a form that resembles the tight position similar to a karate or kung fu practitioner ready for a foot sweep. Immense stress is placed on the lower back in a 45 degree tilt to make up for the stress put on the quads and knees. The head is up despite the low position so the back of the neck also feels the weight. Like a cobra, movements are low, fast and arrow straight.

Turning and carving are not a high priority for this form as adrenaline rush comes from speed, not the thrill of movement itself. The thrill of danger plays a big role in this form, and interpreting this as a challenge, people of this form tend to be intense, introverted and non-grandiose.

This form is often learned from another stance despite not requiring absolute technical proficiency to attain it. The Way of the Cobra rider simply got bored of another stance and adopted this one to compensate for their previous lack of thrill. This form lends itself well to speed and jumps as grabs come naturally to a low position. This form also often is utilized by backcountry riders due to the perceived need for risk.

2006 K.K. Elsewhere. All logos and branding trademark pending.