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  • Writer's pictureDavid Phillips

Windup and intention

Updated: May 16, 2023

by David ("Argen")

(First published in The Curious Tanguero by Dimitris Bronowski.)


Great moments in sports! A table-clearing pool shot, a game-winning field goal, a strike-out pitch. What do they have in common? The windup.


If we give no windup, our partner has no warning, and we have no power.


A windup loads our muscles, readying them for action to express our intent. Bruce Lee's famous one-inch punch notwithstanding, most of us need to wind up our "springs" (muscles) to get the most out of them.


I like to picture the windup as a spiral similar to that of a softball pitcher’s arm swinging up and away, back down and around front for an underhand throw.


When we initially sway away from our intended direction, it does three things:

  1. Loads our opposite-side muscles, preparing them to push, and at the same time removes weight from the leg we want to move with

  2. Brings our partner toward us, making a stronger connection as we continue

  3. In our mirror-image relationship, our preparation to move in any direction provokes what our partner needs for their preparation. Side to side — we both first send our weight to load up the opposite side, preparing it for the push to our intended step. Forward or backward — our forward is their backward, and vice-versa.

We use a conscious preparation, the windup, before the start of any new movement. Then when we continue a movement, such as walking forward or backward, the preparation is built-in as part of the arrival of each step. But when we are starting a new step or changing directions, we’ll prepare with some degree of windup.


When we use our bodies in this well-organized, highly efficient way, our intentions become crystal clear as we signal, receive, and carry them out.


Learn more at Windup reveals intention. (A simple registration gets you free and unlimited access to the Game of Argentine Tango.)


In the Game, we make a BIG deal about the importance of solo practice. This is why. Regardless of the roles we prefer to dance, when we practice solo to move with well-organized power to the music, we bring a more valuable gift to our partner. A bright, clear gem in a secure, flattering setting.

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