Teach stances or blocks first?

skribs

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I was thinking conceptually about martial arts, and how the first thing you teach could be used to symbolize the training. Two things that stand out to me about Taekwondo:
  1. Taekwondo is for defense, not attack*
  2. Training in anything requires a firm foundation before moving on to higher concepts
*This is not about whether your style is aggressive or defensive, but more about the mindset of the martial artist. The last line of our student creed is "Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop might for right."

Anyway, both of these are true to me - defense, and a firm foundation. So if the first thing I teach in the early classes is the basic blocks, for example, that would teach that we should first focus on defense.

Similarly, if the first thing I teach are the basic stances, that would teach that we should focus on the foundations and build from there.

The schools I've trained at usually go punches -> blocks / kicks -> stances. I see why they go for strikes first - they're more fun than blocks and stances. I just wanted to think about a few different ways of approaching it.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Not specifically for TKD, but this is my general belief regardless of style: footwork is the most important aspect of martial arts training, and stances are one of the basic building blocks to footwork (they are the transition in between movements). As a result, stances and footwork should both be the priority before anything else.

How much that is true depends on the style, but IMO that concept holds true no matter what. Only exception would be ground grappling styles where there is no focus on how to get to the ground, and even then I feel that style could probably benefit from footwork and then takedowns to get to the ground...
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Taekwondo is for defense, not attack*
... the first thing I teach are the basic stances,
Defense is a bad term. The term "blocking" is too conservative. It's better to put your opponent into defense mode. If you don't want to be punched, punch your opponent.

The 1st thing that I teach is to line up my back foot with opponent's feet. This way my opponent's back hand cannot reach me. If I can move faster than my opponent, none of his strike can land on me.
 
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WaterGal

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I think that teaching striking the first day is good for retention. Teaching stances for 45 or 60 minutes, especially to kids, might be good symbolism but they're not going to sign up for your program lol. But basic strikes, blocks, and stances should IMO all be central parts of your beginner's curriculum.
 

dvcochran

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Not specifically for TKD, but this is my general belief regardless of style: footwork is the most important aspect of martial arts training, and stances are one of the basic building blocks to footwork (they are the transition in between movements). As a result, stances and footwork should both be the priority before anything else.

How much that is true depends on the style, but IMO that concept holds true no matter what. Only exception would be ground grappling styles where there is no focus on how to get to the ground, and even then I feel that style could probably benefit from footwork and then takedowns to get to the ground...
Agree. Even in Kali where there are not any real stances footwork is heavily worked in the beginning. It is a big part of how you learn to react and strike with power either open handed or with a blade. The same is true for an MA I have worked with. We don't stress it enough in TKD but stances and footwork should be first or at least concurrent with kicks.
 

hoshin1600

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teach the foundation. every style may be different but most likely the foundation would be a combination of a few different things.
 

Bruce7

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I was thinking conceptually about martial arts, and how the first thing you teach could be used to symbolize the training. Two things that stand out to me about Taekwondo:
  1. Taekwondo is for defense, not attack*
  2. Training in anything requires a firm foundation before moving on to higher concepts
*This is not about whether your style is aggressive or defensive, but more about the mindset of the martial artist. The last line of our student creed is "Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop might for right."

Anyway, both of these are true to me - defense, and a firm foundation. So if the first thing I teach in the early classes is the basic blocks, for example, that would teach that we should first focus on defense.

Similarly, if the first thing I teach are the basic stances, that would teach that we should focus on the foundations and build from there.

The schools I've trained at usually go punches -> blocks / kicks -> stances. I see why they go for strikes first - they're more fun than blocks and stances. I just wanted to think about a few different ways of approaching it.

That is a good question.
The school I am going to today follows what said punches -> blocks / kicks -> stances.
My first school had me walk H forms for over a week, they told me without balance you have nothing. Next was down blocks and reverse punch from horse stance, then first form of down blocks and reverse punches. You would do something a thousand times before moving to the next thing. So performing the first form was easy to learn.
 

Tez3

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Would you really just teach one thing for ages before moving on to something else or would you teach comprehensively, I would. It's how I was taught. Teach stances, striking and defending as a whole, emphasising the importance of each component but showing how it's all joined up to make the whole. You should practice each separately but unless you can do the techniques seamlessly and instinctively it doesn't work.
Imagine learning to ride a bike, would you just learn to peddle for weeks, then learn to steer, then learn to steer with one hand then the next or would you learn and practice them as a whole? Learning to do things in isolation isn't actually a good thing.
 

Bruce7

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Would you really just teach one thing for ages before moving on to something else or would you teach comprehensively, I would. It's how I was taught. Teach stances, striking and defending as a whole, emphasising the importance of each component but showing how it's all joined up to make the whole. You should practice each separately but unless you can do the techniques seamlessly and instinctively it doesn't work.
Imagine learning to ride a bike, would you just learn to peddle for weeks, then learn to steer, then learn to steer with one hand then the next or would you learn and practice them as a whole? Learning to do things in isolation isn't actually a good thing.

I don't disagree with you.
It was just the way I was taught. I am not sure way, he taught that way, it was not fun, but it was very cool how fast I learn my first form.
I did not have to think, about my stance, how to move and where to go, how to do a down block , or how to do a reverse punch.
Show me one time and I could do it own my own. Maybe it was a trust thing, do what I say and see what happens, I don't know.
 

Earl Weiss

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I submit the following:
1. Just because an art is purportedly for "Self Defense" does not mean the same thing as the art being "Defensive".
2. from (tae, to kick or destroy with the foot) + (gwon, to punch with the fist) + (do, way). Hence, taekwondo is loosely translated as "the way of kicking and punching". taekwondo - Wiktionary Sometimes more simply defined as Foot - Fist - Way.
So, from the most basic translation to a translation with more meaning the defensive / blocking part is noteably absent.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I was thinking conceptually about martial arts, and how the first thing you teach could be used to symbolize the training. Two things that stand out to me about Taekwondo:
  1. Taekwondo is for defense, not attack*
  2. Training in anything requires a firm foundation before moving on to higher concepts
*This is not about whether your style is aggressive or defensive, but more about the mindset of the martial artist. The last line of our student creed is "Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop might for right."

Anyway, both of these are true to me - defense, and a firm foundation. So if the first thing I teach in the early classes is the basic blocks, for example, that would teach that we should first focus on defense.

Similarly, if the first thing I teach are the basic stances, that would teach that we should focus on the foundations and build from there.

The schools I've trained at usually go punches -> blocks / kicks -> stances. I see why they go for strikes first - they're more fun than blocks and stances. I just wanted to think about a few different ways of approaching it.
I don't see stances as a separate topic. I've seen students get really tied up in the detail of a stance, missing important concepts and principles, because they were paying too much attention to an exact foot angle. Stances are there for reasons, and those reasons are easiest to learn when actually using the stance. So most of the time students learn a new stance just in time to use it for something (or, in some cases, while learning to use it for something). That means for their first block, they learn a stance of forward stability as part of the movement into the block. A block without a good posture (stance) isn't as useful, so the stance is part of the block.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I submit the following:
1. Just because an art is purportedly for "Self Defense" does not mean the same thing as the art being "Defensive".
2. from (tae, to kick or destroy with the foot) + (gwon, to punch with the fist) + (do, way). Hence, taekwondo is loosely translated as "the way of kicking and punching". taekwondo - Wiktionary Sometimes more simply defined as Foot - Fist - Way.
So, from the most basic translation to a translation with more meaning the defensive / blocking part is noteably absent.
Agreed. I've been making the argument lately that even the "soft" arts (especially aiki-related stuff) doesn't have to be passive and defensive. Even those can take an aggressive approach to defense.
 

Bruce7

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Would you really just teach one thing for ages before moving on to something else or would you teach comprehensively, I would. It's how I was taught. Teach stances, striking and defending as a whole, emphasising the importance of each component but showing how it's all joined up to make the whole. You should practice each separately but unless you can do the techniques seamlessly and instinctively it doesn't work.
Imagine learning to ride a bike, would you just learn to peddle for weeks, then learn to steer, then learn to steer with one hand then the next or would you learn and practice them as a whole? Learning to do things in isolation isn't actually a good thing.

The latest thing about riding a bike is a bike with no petals. My grandchildren that started with the no petal bike learn much much faster to ride a regular bike than my grandchildren that started with a regular bike. Learning balance is the secret to most things.
 
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Bruce7

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How do you teach a punch without teaching the stance and power generation?
Good question.
Teaching to punch in horse stance first I believe is best. If you over punch you can feel yourself become unbalanced.
If you are unbalanced you are punching incorrectly.
Moving from horse to front stance naturally turns the hips and generates power.
Power without balance is not a good thing.
 

Gerry Seymour

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The latest thing about riding a bike is a bike with no petals. My grandchildren that started with the no petal bike learn much much faster to ride a regular bike than my grandchildren that started with a regular bike. Learning balance is the secret to most things.
A bike without pedals?
 

ballen0351

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Good question.
Teaching to punch in horse stance first I believe is best. If you over punch you can feel yourself become unbalanced.
If you are unbalanced you are punching incorrectly.
Moving from horse to front stance naturally turns the hips and generates power.
Power without balance is not a good thing.
So your teaching a stance first regardless. Goes back to Tez's point
 

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