Wide stances and ending your forms on the same spot

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by skribs, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    One common thing I hear is that your forms should end on the same spot you started, assuming you had consistent stances throughout the forms. However, with both the Palgwe-style and Taegeuk forms I've learned, you usually end up either a few steps forward or backward of your starting point.

    The reason for this seems to be that your proper stances are not in a straight line, and that anchor points shift as you perform the form. For example, if you take the Kibon Il Jang or Palgwe Il Jang, which both follow the same basic I pattern (assuming your font has the right type of I). Theoretically if you do 2 steps left and 2 steps right, that should balance out, and if you do 4 steps forward and 4 steps back, then that should balance as well.

    However, the nature of the stances is that they are wide. The first move is a step to the left, but you have a wide stance, so your left foot is placed behind your starting position. Where the right leg goes in the second step is largely irrelevant, because the left foot is your anchor point for the turn into the third move. You have now effectively shifted the line back a half step.

    This gets corrected at Moves #9-12, where you do a mirror of Steps #1-4 and essentially shift the line back. If the form ended at Step #16, you'd be on the same spot as before. But when you add in Steps #17-20, you again shift the line back a half step. Your ending position in this case is always the width of your stance behind your starting position.

    I've just recently started on the Taegeuks. I learned them before as an elective to our curriculum, and am going through them again. With Taegeuk Il Jang, I see a similar thing as in the Kibon and Palgwe forms. In theory, you have 2 full steps forward and 2 full steps back, and should end up on the same spot as before. But when I start practicing on the edge of the mat, I find I have to do a stutter step for the last step to stay on the mat, because the Taegeuk form ends up behind my starting point as well!

    The reason for this, as best I can tell, is the way in which you turn. Once again, because your stances are not in a straight line, but rather shoulder width apart, and because of how you shift in each set in the form.
    1. Steps 1-4 have you move back a half step compared with your starting position, just like the Kibon/Palgwe form
    2. Step 5 has you move a whole stop forward. However, your transition into Step 6 has you anchor on your front leg and slide your back leg into the stance, which means that you don't move a whole step forward. Steps 6-9 will be anchored on your starting line.
    3. The anchor point for the turn forward into Step 10 is actually behind your starting line. It may be even with or slightly in front, depending on the difference between your walking stance width and front stance length. You would think since you're halfway through the form you would be well forward, but you're in virtually the same spot.
    4. The turn from Step 10-11 is the same as from Step 5-6. However, this time you are moving forwards for Steps 11-14. The other two horizontal lines shift backwards with their turns, this makes up for one of them.
    5. The turn from Step 14-15 is a step across your rearward foot towards the rear of the room. This means your anchor point is at the rear, and you make a full step towards the rear. There are no turns like in Step 6 or Step 11 that negate some of the length of your step. So Steps 15 & 16 are truly a full step back.
    The end result is that just like the Palgwe and Kibon forms, Taegeuk Il Jang ends up behind where it started. I've watched videos of people perform Taegeuk Il Jang with very narrow walking stance and very long front stance, which offsets the difference a little bit, but even then they end up behind where they started.

    Has anyone else noticed this? I often hear "you should end your form in the same spot as you started", but I feel if people do that, it usually means that their stances are too narrow, or they're moving forward with longer steps than they go back with. For most forms "you should end a step behind where you started" seems more accurate to me.
     
  2. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

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    I think your short of something to worry about, who actually cares where forms finish,
     
  3. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    It depends on the style. All the forms are done slightly different in different styles/schools, so for one school you may end up slightly behind where you started, and in another you may end up exactly where you started.

    Either way, I dont like the idea of having a spot to end. That requires too much perfection, or not enough, depending. I've seen people mess up once, realize, and step longer or shorter to try and "correct" it, so they end in the right spot. I'd rather end in the wrong spot and only mess up once, then either spend 5 minutes making sure each step is the same distance as the last, or mess up multiple times on purpose to make it appear right.
     
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  4. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Judges in competition do. And I guess some people who grade students do too.

    I think it’s a bit stupid, but who am I?
     
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  5. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I've heard this before and personally I think people who worry about this are focused on the wrong thing. I would be more concerned about the techniques that to worry about finishing in the same starting point. The most one should worry is facing the same way you started. If you don't then you know you messed up with direction or missed a technique. It helps you to self check where you messed up on a technique.
     
  6. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Starting and finishing in the same spot has little importance as adjustments can be made to accomplish this. Just like someone adjusts a form when that person runs out of space.
     
  7. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I think the main thing is the focus on consistency in your stances.
     
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  8. wab25

    wab25 Brown Belt

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    In Shotokan, they like to see the kata end where it started. The idea is that if all your steps are done the same, and correct, you will naturally end up where you started. You shouldn't be trying to drive back to that spot, but do the kata correctly. When you end up off, you look back and find the reason why. For me, every time I find the why, its because my stance was not correct for one (or more) of the steps in the kata. This means that whatever I was supposed to be doing for that step, I am compromised. Whether a block or punch, because my stance is not correct, the power will be lacking and possibly my balance will be effected.

    In my opinion, if you mess up once, finish out correctly and end up in the different spot. This is preferred, because I know where I messed up. The harder ones are where you think you did it right, but ended up wrong. These require you to go through your kata, to find the mistake. (or, if you don't care, live with the unknown mistake)

    Skribs, is this the form you are referring to?


    He ends up fairly close to where he starts... Anyway, the beginning of that is similar to taikyoku shodan. (your description and problem sound like one I encoutered... or I should say, encounter) Your description:
    For me the key was the turn. Your first left step should go diagonally back, just as you said. Where I go wrong, is making the turn on the anchor foot, to face the other direction. That turn, should take you another half step back, as your right foot, should now take the opposite, back diagonal line... you should now be 1 full step back from where you started. I keep ending up going straight back, which means my stance, after the turn is way too narrow, compromising my balance. (When I do the kata slow, its very apparent the my balance is compromised, when I turn straight back, instead of extending my right foot back along the diagonal.) From this point on, if you didn't take that second diagonal back step, doing the kata perfectly, will put you that half step behind where you started. Anyway, I hope this helps.
     
  9. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    Some train for aesthetics some for practicality.
    Some judge for aesthetics some judge for practicality.
    It is all subjective.
     
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  10. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

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    so nobody of any importance then ?
     
  11. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Yup. I don’t make the rules. Nor do I want to. I just want to shut up and train. Funny thing is I haven’t figured out the shut up part of that one yet. And I doubt I will for any length of time :)
     
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  12. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    We've noticed.

    I'd tell you to stop talking about it, but...well...
     
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  13. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    I wasn’t sure if funny or agree was most appropriate here, so I decided on funny.

    Edit: See, I couldn’t just shut up, could I?
     
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  14. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    If you know how to change your "step forward and punch" into "step backward and punch", you can finish your form any spot that you may like.
     
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  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Can't do that in Taekwondo forms.

    I mean, you could when practicing at home. But TKD forms are primarily about recreating the technique exactly as done by your master.
     
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  16. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    One day my teacher asked me to do a form in a small space. I said that I didn't have enough room. He then said, "Do you know how to step back instead of stepping forward?"

    When I have left leg forward and I have to step in my right leg to throw a right punch, if my left foot is almost touching the wall, I will step back my left leg and still punch my right hand out. This way I'll still end with right leg forward and right punch.
     
  17. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I know I can do that. And I often do when I'm practicing at home, or when I'm on the edge of the mat. I'm just saying that for the most correct version of the forms, especially what you do in testing or at a tournament, that is NOT what you do.

    Kind of like how you drive a little different if you see a cop car.
     
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  18. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Some MA teachers like to test the ability of "copy". Other teachers may prefer to test the ability of "change".
     
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  19. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    I usually floor it. By the time I see them, they’ve seen me and already clocked me. I’ve got to get every bit of a head start I can get :)
     
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  20. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    The best way to start and end in the same spot is to not move your feet and just move your arms around.
     
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