The Doji is a good candlestick pattern for a beginner to recognize because it's very easy to spot so it will be emphasized it in this article.
Candlesticks were originally used by Japanese rice traders to do early technical analysis in the 1600's and was implemented by Charles Dow in the 1900's in the US. Steve Nison later made candlestick trading more popular in the US from his book "Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques" published in 1991. Nison also translated early Japanese works.
Although candlesticks were first used in the 1600's they were not fully utilized until Munehisa Homna a prominent rice trader implemented them in the 1700's. With his research he developed a philosophy called "The Sakata Rules" which became the framework for Japanese investment. His research took into account historic price moves and weather conditions. Surprisingly, Japanese Candlestick analysis was never a hidden or secretive trading system.
In 1755, Munehisa Homna wrote "The fountain of Gold - The Three Monkey Record of Money", the first book on market psychology. He notes the psychological aspect of the market is critical to trading success. He is rumored to be the most successful market trader in history, generating over $100bn in profits at today's prices, some years earning over $10bn a year. He literally cornered the rice market and was made a financial adviser to the government. To some he is despised (many successful rice traders were) but to some (including myself) he is a Japanese hero of the time.
Homma named various patterns; Long days, Short days, White Marubozu , Black Marubozu, Spinning tops, Stars, Rain drops, Dark Cloud Cover, Evening Star, Doji's, Three Black Crows, Dragonfly Doji, Hanging Man and others.
The key to candlesticks was price action rather than news events that were unreliable than the actual mathematical representation of supply and demand or market emotion that could depicted in the form of a candlestick.
There are various patterns watched by candlestick traders that reflected emotion, supply and demand, or simply put points where the market may reverse do to previous interpretations. A Doji is one such pattern - it represents a decision point (some say a meeting of the minds) because the open and close are very close together (nearly equal).
To properly identify the Doji you must know what the candlestick parts mean. The first key part of a candlestick is the body. The body is the point between the open and close which makes up the width of the candle. I use a dark color (red or brown) to represent bear candlesticks and a bright color (lime or light blue) to represent bull candlesticks. A stick is bearish when the closing price is less than the opening price and bullish when the closing price is greater than the opening price.
The other key part of the candlestick is it's wick (also called shadows - a more confusing term) which is a very important piece of data but not as important as the open and close. The wick represents the high and low prices. Wicks represent where price action goes independent from the open and close so they don't have a body but reflect price extremes.
Don't get too complicated with candlestick parts - they are meant to be easy to read - interpreting patterns however is another subject entirely. The key pieces of a candle are: 1. The Body 2. The Upper Wick 3. The Lower Wick 4. The Opening Price 5. The Closing Price. How those various parts interact together make up what type of candlestick has formed - the wise rice traders watched these pieces of data like hawks. Also what the previous sticks have done and the following candlesticks after a pattern has formed are the key to learning and using the patterns. The previous candlesticks help identify patterns while the following (not yet formed) are used for confirmation of a pattern.
*Sometimes candles have no upper or lower wicks or no body (for example: when opening price equals closing price.
Doji Tutorial, Identification, Analysis
Above are variations of valid Doji's. Both variations represent a meeting of the minds - decision points (also called a tug-of-war between the buyers and sellers where the result is a standoff).
Bullish or Bearish action is based on preceding price action and future confirmation.
Therefore the previous trend is one of the keys to spotting a valid Doji Pattern. A Doji in a range is not as enticing as one that appears in a ascending or descending set of candles.
People get very technical in the identification of Doji Patterns but in general you are looking for a meeting of the minds (where open and close is nearly equal) after a preceding uptrend or downtrend. Preferable there's at least 5-10 bars in an uptrend or downtrend when the Doji occurs and not within a range.
(click to enlarge)
To me the above pattern is a valid Doji Pattern with all the essentials: 1. A prior trend 2. A long (of the previous direction) candle prior to the actual Doji. 3. A Meeting Of The Minds or Tug-of-war that ends in a standoff. 4. Confirmation / breakout of the Doji Pattern.
In my opinion you couldn't ask for more from the above pattern. The reward was also very impressive. It occurred in a daily timeframe so the profit was very generous.
Some might say that pattern was actually a spinning top (but the upper wick is not tall enough if you want to get technical - there are some grey areas to identification). I classify it as a Doji because I see a meeting of the minds and that's what were looking for - indecision after a prior trend.
Also the above pattern can be confused with a Hanging Man or Hammer but no look closely the lower wick is not long enough for either patterns to be valid.
A rarer variation is the Dragon Fly and Gravestone Doji. These patterns are times of high emotion and sometimes mark massive tops or bottoms.
Another variation is the Long Legged Doji.
By Neal Vanderstelt
Forex Trader, Market Analyst, Trading System Designer
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