One of the three basic fighting stances (sitting, front, back), the front stance is the workhorse of Taekwondo. It is used in practically every form/pattern and by many practitioners as their primary fighting stance. The front stance is strong in all directions, but it is the strongest stance to use against attacks from the front. The stance exposes much of body to frontal assault but it also provides strong balance, permits a wide range of attacks by both hands and feet, and adds the mass of the body to any forward attacks. It allows the attacker to close distance quickly on the opponent, close over a large distance, and to move quickly in any direction, all while maintaining a firm base and strong stability.
The front stance discussion that follows describes the traditional front stance. In actual usage, a shallow (feet closer together), half-facing (body at a forty-five degree angle to the opponent) front stance is used as the primary fighting stance by many martial artists.
- When the left leg is forward, the stance a left front stance. When the right leg is forward, it is a right front stance.
- Stand with feet parallel, 1 and 1/2 shoulder widths apart. Step one foot directly forward 1 and 1/2 shoulder widths deep into a front stance while maintaining the width of 1 and 1/2 shoulder widths. Imagine a square drawn on the floor with each side equal to a shoulder width. You are standing on the corners of the square. For a proper front stance, one foot moves up its side of the square to the top corner. If the stance is too long, you will not be able to move quickly. If the stance is too short, you will not have proper stability. It is often claimed that longer stances strengthen the muscles that work through the knee joint and so help to protect the knee joint from the damage caused by unloaded kicking. However, it is better to protect the knee joint by avoiding unloaded kicking altogether.
- In a low front stance, the imaginary square is enlarged to 2 shoulder widths or greater, which makes the stance lower, wider, and more stable, but it also makes movement slower. Too wide a stance opens the groin to attack.
- Test your fore/aft stability by having someone push on your extended fist. You should be able to resist a very strong push from this direction. Some coaches also pull you forwards by drawing on your lead arm, but the stance is designed to withstand a frontal impact.
- The body faces the opponent. Keep hips parallel with the shoulders and perpendicular to the opponent.