One of my students, in trying to emulate all the lessons over the last year (basically white belt to orange), had shoulders straight, back upright and a very mechanical gait. And you know what? It's all due to the system in which we teach. Basically what Bruce Lee termed the 'Classical Mess.' We drill students day in and day out in their first few belt ranks to ensure proper 'focus' - what karate would term 'kime'. That's when you get the body decelerating hard and you've got muscle lock down so that the entire momentum of your body is transmitted into the target.
But is this how you should be fighting all the time? Not on your life. Being able to deal with attacks and to counter requires you to be fluid, and to be responsive. You cannot hope to be responsive if you're stiff as a board, trying to replicate a fore balance whilst going for increased reach, or for body deflection. It's just impossible! Taekwondo and karate is really NOT like this. You only go for muscle lockdown at the point of impact. Before then you should be able to perform your taekwondo and karate as naturally and with a good amount of fluid grace.
-- Colin Wee Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]. Colin is a martial art instructor with 25 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia. Connect with Colin on FaceBook and Traditional Taekwondo Group on FB.