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Hands Up, but Move Your Feet
With beginner participants, we start with sparring games emphasizing footwork, where hand position is not in play. In fact, keeping your hands in a locked position restricts your movement because you can't sway. We don't want to overly restrict practitioners' footwork, especially at the beginning. Otherwise, they can't discover all the ways they can move, especially with the underlying constraint of staying in stance.
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It's hard for humans to recall two things at the same time. We set practitioners up for successful learning by having footwork become an unconscious system first before consciously thinking about where they keep their hands. If you emphasize keeping their hands up early on during live gameplay, beginner practitioners develop a habit of staying in place and swatting everything away, leaving themselves defenseless. People will use what is familiar and available. If their hands are up, they will use them. But what is less familiar and needs more attention are their feet.
Keeping your hands up is good advice, but what's even better advice is to move your feet. You can get beaten up with your hands up. You can't get beaten up if you're not there. Move your feet.
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