Tango “Kihon Waza”


I would like to preface this post by saying that Karate is not Tango (or any other type of dancing) and Tango is not a martial art of any sort. Now that that is out of the way, I can hopefully progress without treading on any toes (pun intended)….and without upsetting any karate instructors.

I have now been studying karate for 2 and a half years. I am getting to the stage where I am occasionally feeling like I know what I am doing. It’s taken a long time and a lot of patience (on my part and my instructors parts) to get me to this point. A month ago, on the night I don’t train, I decided to try something new and completely different……because you know that comfort zone escape thing I have…..Anyway, I started going to a beginners Argentine Tango class.

OK so it wasn’t quite new, I did take a few classes (with the same instructors) about 12 years ago for a couple of months with my husband, but I remember being really, really bad at it. My balance was poor, my “following” skills were hopeless, I was completely awkward, fairly socially inept about dancing with anyone other than my husband, but mostly I was just a really slow learner who ended up stepping on too many toes. In the end we stopped going. I probably got busy with singing commitments and decided to stick with my strengths.

It was new for me this time in a sense, though, because I approached it as a complete beginner. I had forgotten absolutely everything anyway so why not start with a clean slate?

Tango is a partner dance that requires (at least of the follower – generally the woman) one skill that most of us learn before we are 2 years old: WALKING. OK so how hard can it be?…..one foot in front of the other…..It can be as simple or as complex as your partner decides to make it.

Tango is un-choreographed and thus, the spontaneity of the dance requires you, as a follower, to react to your partner’s cues and be in the moment. It requires you to be comfortable in someone’s personal space and to be comfortable having someone in your personal space. It requires a level of trust in your partner. The timing of each move or step is more internal than reliant on the music or any prescribed beat and this applies to both partners.

Hmmm……some of this new learning is feeling a bit familiar…..it may be slower but there is something mildly reminiscent of  jiyu kumite with the whole being in and responding in the moment thing and feeling comfortable being in close. It may not be individual but the rhythm and timing is a bit like kata. It may be different patterns but learning the steps and flourishes isn’t unlike practising kihon. The names of different moves may be in Spanish rather than Japanese but (as is the case in karate) they generally aren’t fancy talk, they are merely descriptions of what the steps look like.

Studying karate has given me a positive outlook and more determination than I ever had. It has given me a new attitude on mistakes and the definition of success. Learning new skills is not daunting now but something I crave. Karate has improved my physical condition (strength / endurance / balance / reaction times) and it has opened up parts of my brain that I don’t think I was accessing before. So learning new skills feels quicker and easier for me than it ever has.

Consequently at the end of this short course in Tango Kihon Waza, I already feel like I am starting to know what I am meant to be doing (as a follower), and I am ready to learn more. I will continue for the next month and see where it takes me. And incidentally – I have not trodden on any toes in class!!! Yay me!


9 thoughts on “Tango “Kihon Waza”

  1. Pingback: Five martial arts secrets that women know - Budō Inochi

  2. Really interesting post thx for sharing your reflections. It’s interesting to see how your perspective and approach have obviously moved on since you last tried it. I know nothing about dancing 😉 but I imagine that one big difference from martial arts, is that you don’t get to practice both “roles” – you’re assigned to just one according to your gender, and that’s the one you practise and perfect . . . ? Because when you talk about developing your “following skills” I take that as basically meaning a dancing equivalent of your ukemi 🙂 . . .


    • Women occasionally get to lead because invariably there are not enough men. However (and as much as my gender equality loving heart tells me I should not think this)….I prefer to be led (washes mouth out with soap). Perhaps relinquishing control and handing it over to someone else is good for me to do sometimes so when it comes to dancing I prefer to go with the flow than dictate the tide.

      Liked by 1 person

      • what’s wrong with that? I totally prefer the role of uke in training; that’s just my natural inclination. I love practising both roles, as I feel it changes me as a person; and that’s something wonderful I believe martial arts gives us. But I don’t think we need to deny it, if we are ultimately more drawn to the so-called feminine role. There you go, now I have come out and said this shocking thing too, in solidarity with you 😉


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  4. Tango is soooo fun!!! Oh my gosh, the over-the-top stuff you can do with it is a real blast. I took a semester of ballroom and country western dance class with my boyfriend (now my husband) and we did spend about a week on Tango. You will love this!!! So happy for you trying a new thing! Your post reminds me of something I was going to write last summer, but forgot!!! I think I’ll go write it right now!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ballroom tango is very different from Argentine Tango. Argentine Tango is much less OTT. Much more understated but lovely none the less. I danced the last dance with the Male instructor last night and he just led whatever he felt like doing. Most of which we hadn’t learned……I just went with it…..and I didn’t stumble even though most of it was new ground. It was great fun. Our town is such a small place. As I said I learned tango with these instructors 12 years ago. They are a married couple who live near us. His mum was actually one of my Uni lecturers. They now have a kid in the same year and school as our youngest so I had seen them around a bit and wondered if they still taught…..I remembered them but I don’t think they remembered me. They advertised the class on our closed school FB group and I thought…..why not. We got reacquainted at the first class. They said I had not forgotten anything but actually I had forgotten everything…..and forgetting everything I think was what helped me learn everything!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Love what you said about forgetting everything everything helping you learn everything 🙂 I am so very happy you’re making these connections in your community and having fun! Kudos to you!!!

        Liked by 2 people

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