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Deconstructing Taekwon-Do

How To: Taekwon-Do’s Walking Stance

The walking stance is perhaps the most-used stance in the Taekwon-Do patterns. It is often the third stance a student learns, after attention stance and parallel ready stance.

Taekwon-Do walking stance

The length and width of your stances in Taekwon-Do will be relative to your own body. The standard unit of measurement is the width of your shoulders. But in practice this is just a rough guide. Let’s say the Encyclopedia tells you that a particular stance should be 1 ½ shoulder widths long. Depending on your body,  your actual stance may be slightly longer or shorter. Otherwise it might look funny. It’s up to your instructor to correct these sorts of details.

In walking stance, the distance between your front and rear feet should be 1 ½ times the width of your shoulders. This is measured from the tips of your big toes. The stance is one shoulder width wide, measured between the centres of your insteps. General Choi claimed that making the stance longer than 1 ½ shoulder widths makes it slow and weak against attacks from either the front, side or rear. I can’t really disagree. I’ve always kind of hated the low stance, which is just a longer version of the walking stance.

Taekwon-Do walking stance foot diagram - distance

The front toes should point straight forward and the front knee should be bent just enough so the kneecap forms a vertical line with the heel.

Taekwon-Do walking stance

Keep your knee cap in a vertical line with your heel.

The rear leg should be straight and the toes should be turned outward about 25 degrees.

Taekwon-Do walking stance foot diagram - angle

Your weight should be evenly distributed between your feet, both front-to-back and side-to-side.

When in walking stance, your body can be full-facing, half-facing or reverse half-facing the target. If your right leg is bent, it’s called a right walking stance, and vice versa. The photos above are of a left walking stance.

To finish, tense your abdomen as well as the muscles of your feet. According to the Encyclopedia, it should feel like you’re pulling your feet toward one another. I really have no idea what the purpose of this tension is. The concept was probably borrowed from Karate, where students are taught to “root” their stances by gripping or pushing into the floor with their feet. Many people have tried to explain why this is important, but none of those explanations seem to hold up to any serious scrutiny. It ultimately seems kind of pointless. Nevertheless, if it helps you win at tournaments, it can’t hurt.