Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Jan 3, 2006
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Denver, CO
My biggest problem with the discussions on this board are the fact that everything gets compared to the WTF. You guys know that schools learned the "Old school" dinosaur ITF Chang Hon hyungs first. The WTF is not the end all be all of TKD it is just one piece of TKD. These stances are very deep indeed. Also when you look at the later forms between the two then there are many similiarties in the techniques used. However, remember this......the ITF came before the WTF. Personally I much prefer the ITF hyung to the WTF poomsea. But Hapkido and Judo are delved into power and stable stances.

A little help Kacey?
I think you're doing fine on your own, Matt!

That's a fair complaint. The WTF probably comes first to mind for me, because they're the most dominant association worldwide. For better or worse, they're the bell cow right now for the state of taekwondo. And yes, relatively high stances are an enduring characteristic in many martial artists' minds when they think of TKD.

However, even if you want to compare ITF vs. Shotokan, I'll still argue the karate guys hold a slightly deeper front stance. Look at these two videos where a TKD 5th dan is performing Chon-Ji and then look at the one of Kanazawa Sensei playing Heian Shodan.;10046892;/fileinfo.html

Granted Kanazawa is considered one of the greatest karate-ka the JKA produced, but his front stance is a bit deeper (look at the angle his front knee forms) and most consistent. He also straightens his supporting back leg more in the front stance, which combined with the lack of sine wave movement, makes performing this fundamental kata more difficult from a leg strength perspective. Moving up and down no matter how minimal takes a lot of strain off your quadriceps and calf muscles.

I don't see the problem in acknowledging that Shotokan karate generally teaches a deeper stance than taekwondo does. It seems like a basic fact, just like the observation that taekwondo has a deeper chamber with more hip action used in the sidekick than Shotokan does.
ITF stances are generally a little higher than Shotokan, yes, although there's variation, and it depends on the stance - there is a stance called low stance which is longer and lower than the standard walking (forward/front) stance - and you won't see it in Chon-Ji, as it's not taught until red belt.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all stance heights. Lower stances develop greater leg strength; higher stances are more mobile. What you have to remember, however, is that just because someone practices a particular stance height in patterns doesn't mean that that's the only way stances are done in other activities, where a different stance height would be more appropriate. It's all in understanding the different purposes, and which one to use when.
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Senior Master
Oct 10, 2004
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I have a quick question for all of my fellow TKDers.

What kind of stances do you use in you dojang? Do you use TKD style stances, which to be are very standing up and walking-like? Or do you use Japanese style stances, low and deep.

We use natural stances which are not as deep as the Japanese stylists, more akin to Okinawan stylists. Our stances are based on our step, not on our shoulder-width.

When we spar, we are in a high, mobile stance so we can move quickly forward, backward, or diagonally.

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