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 Post subject: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #1 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:12 am 
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I found this article about the differences between basics and fundamentals on a martial arts website. I could care less about martial arts, but the writing to distinguish between the two concepts basics and fundamentals was particularly elegant, and in fact rang very true to my experience in various pedagogical relationships, including Go, especially the the part about how it is possible to teach basics without teaching fundamentals.

http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/ba ... mental.htm


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Post #2 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:44 am 
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Using the words 'basic' and 'fundamental' as they're used in the article:

When I teach, I knowingly teach basics without really trying to teach fundamentals. I do this because I feel like teaching fundamentals is just saying empty words - to learn the fundamentals, you really have to learn to feel them. I didn't understand 'hane at the head of two stones' until I was 1-2d, because even though I knew the words, I couldn't feel how much it hurts to get hane'd. There are plenty of other things like that for me. I wonder if it would be better to note the existence of the fundamentals, but not mention them.

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Post #3 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:05 am 
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It's interesting that you think of it that way, Shaddy. I think of it the other way - basics are the sorts of things that it doesn't make much sense to talk about. Telling people to "pull out of atari" but also "don't save junk stones" is useless - when you start playing you don't mean to let your stones be captured, and you don't mean to save pointless groups, it just happens to you because you have no idea what's going on. By the time you are aware of which groups are in atari (or could be in atari soon), you don't need anyone to tell you that it's often a good idea to pull out of atari. That's basic. I think this is the gist of the advice "lose fifty games quickly" or "don't worry about reviewing/books/theory until you've played more games" - you need to identify the basics with 90% practical experience and 10% light guidance from your sparring partners.

With fundamentals, meanwhile, I feel like it makes sense to (a) have a name for the fundamental and be aware of it, and (b) try to follow it even when you aren't getting an instinctive feel for that point. If I veto my own dubious judgment and follow fundamental concepts, I will get with, for example, hane at the head of two stones, and what possibilities it offers both for attack and for defense. The more I inject fundamentals into my games, the better I will grasp them.


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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #4 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:11 am 
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Shaddy wrote:

I didn't understand 'hane at the head of two stones' until I was 1-2d


Great, I thought I was/am the only one. I still do i, because you read it so much, but honestly the move doesn't feel too impactful to me.


Well the article gave a definition, but I'm not sure if that translates to go very well. Maybe I got this wrong, but the basics in go are rather simple and intuitive, but the fundamentals give me a lot of trouble. I know that I should make as much territory as possible(basic) but that is clear from the ruleset, the way how I do it, influence, making live groups, ...(fundamentals) are the kind of stuff that I don't know how to do.

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #5 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:25 am 
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jts:

I essentially think of basics as 'what to do', and fundamentals as 'why do that', so some pretty complicated things like direction of play and joseki choice get swept up into basics. With regards to having a name for fundamentals, I think that if you have an idea and give it a name and do it without understanding (the goal being to understand it), that is doing the basics. If you have an idea and understand it, so you know when to obey and when to subvert it - that's the fundamentals.

Does that make sense?


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Post #6 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:01 am 
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Shaddy wrote:
I essentially think of basics as 'what to do', and fundamentals as 'why do that', so some pretty complicated things like direction of play and joseki choice get swept up into basics.


Perhaps along those lines, I think of the snapback as a basic tesuji, and the rule of capture as fundamental. I also think of a throw-in to take away a liberty (dame) as a fundamental idea, which the snapback exemplifies.

I also think that a lot of things that are called basics aren't very basic. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #7 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:19 am 
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Shaddy wrote:
jts:

I essentially think of basics as 'what to do', and fundamentals as 'why do that', so some pretty complicated things like direction of play and joseki choice get swept up into basics. With regards to having a name for fundamentals, I think that if you have an idea and give it a name and do it without understanding (the goal being to understand it), that is doing the basics. If you have an idea and understand it, so you know when to obey and when to subvert it - that's the fundamentals.

Does that make sense?


To a certain extent that makes sense - although maybe we would be more on point with more examples. To the extent that this is a helpful distinction to me, I think of both basics and fundamentals as elements of good play, but as different sorts of elements. Some basics: don't play out sequences that don't work, pull out of atari, reply to contact moves, ignore junk stones, capture cutting stones, know the life and death status of your groups, don't keep playing if it doesn't affect the status of a group/capturing race... these are basic ideas that no one would mention as things that differentiate pros from amateurs, but nonetheless new players need a decent amount of experience to wrap their heads around them. And it's hard to distinguish between knowing what to do and knowing why to do it - it's almost too basic for that. (This is why we find that it is almost impossible to teach people the basics, or lecture them into following them, and yet invariably people acquire them in their first few months playing. The basics are also connected to very low-level go skills like reading two moves ahead, identifying connected chains that share liberty, and so on.)

Fundamentals: I would include things like hane at the head, death in the hane, know the balance of territory, emphasize the corners, attack indirectly, avoid broken shape, etc., as "fundamentals". These are fundamentals in the sense that if a kyu asks himself, "would counting be a good idea right now?" or "should I hane at the head of two stones?" he may well be more accurate if he just says "yes!" rather than obeying his own instincts. If I show someone hane at the head of two stones, mention a few reasons why it is powerful, show a few variations in which it is powerful, offer a few joseki or problems in which those variations are put to use, I would say he knows what the fundamental is. (Although it seems you would prefer to say that he "understands the basics".) As I find myself in more and more games where my opponent has lousy shape, or I can come up with a sensible strategy because I know the score, I get practical experience with the consequences of the fundamentals, and a sort of aesthetic instinct for them. If, as I get stronger, I'm no longer applying the fundamentals as a conscious rule-of-thumb (overriding my own instincts) but as a habit and as a part of an over-all plan, I would say I am growing to appreciate, or comprehend, or conceptualize the fundamentals.

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #8 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:30 am 
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Shaddy wrote:
jts:

I essentially think of basics as 'what to do', and fundamentals as 'why do that', so some pretty complicated things like direction of play and joseki choice get swept up into basics. With regards to having a name for fundamentals, I think that if you have an idea and give it a name and do it without understanding (the goal being to understand it), that is doing the basics. If you have an idea and understand it, so you know when to obey and when to subvert it - that's the fundamentals.

Does that make sense?


No, actually it doesn't, its almost as if you didn't read the article at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #9 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:34 am 
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How do you understand it?

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #10 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:42 am 
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Shaddy wrote:
How do you understand it?


As was discussed in the article. Basics are pedagogical tools that ideally teach fundamentals, however aren't necessarily supported by any fundamentals.

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Post #11 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:42 am 
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SmoothOper wrote:
No, actually it doesn't, its almost as if you didn't read the article at all.


What if you don't agree with the article?


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Post #12 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:49 am 
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Here's my take:

I would call this a basic:
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . X . .
$$ . . X . W .
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . . . .[/go]


the key point is marked (plus the 3 symmetrical points to it)

A beginner can improve his go just using that as a heuristic. If the point is already occupied, try to avoid making the diagonal. If you have a chance to occupy this point, it's probably a good thing. Some players, in particular very quick playing ones, seem to progress quite far by just accurately learning heuristic values for shapes. That's basics without fundamentals.

The fundamentals would be 'why?', things like: one tiger mouth is impossible and another is pre-peeped. That means the shape has less development potential than otherwise.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . X . .
$$ . . X . W .
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . X . . .[/go]


Or that this likely extension would normally be impossible to cut, but the white stone is now perfectly located to create the cut.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$W
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . X . .
$$ . . X 5 O .
$$ . 3 1 2 . .
$$ . . X 4 . .[/go]




A point of that article was that you can always improve the fundamentals. What I've written so far doesn't do a modicum of justice to the considerations of the marked spot. Consider just the cut of the extension: What surrounding stones matter for a peep cut, for a jump into the center cut? Which more advanced shapes actually come down to an application of this shape? What alternatives should be considered? etc. etc. Thinking about the lost tiger mouth is a good start, but can you accurately assess the local impact of it?

As I learn more fundamentals, I see more of a position. The directions I choose to read out are more plausible and important. Previously unlikely moves become clear candidates, and things I'd have played unquestioning now strike fear into my heart. I can continue to deepen my appreciation for the possibilities of the opening diagram through my whole life.

That there is such thing as a leaning attack, that you need to watch your connections, standard reduction sequences: These all have an element of the 'basics', that you can explain them, give some quick examples, and help a beginner. They are also fundamentals, in that we'll never master all the nuances and possibilities in a leaning attack.

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #13 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:56 am 
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SmoothOper wrote:
Shaddy wrote:
How do you understand it?


As was discussed in the article. Basics are pedagogical tools that ideally teach fundamentals, however aren't necessarily supported by any fundamentals.


I feel like I'm misunderstanding something here. The article goes on for quite a while about how a punch which is unsupported by good punching technique (which is referred to as fundamental) is useless.

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #14 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:01 am 
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Polama wrote:
Here's my take:

I would call this a basic:
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . X . .
$$ . . X . W .
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . . . .[/go]


the key point is marked (plus the 3 symmetrical points to it)


Why isn't it a silly move?

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 Post subject: Re: Fundamentals vs. Basics
Post #15 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:03 am 
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This article makes me think primarily of the way in which players build and use thickness.

Basics: Make a wall and an extension, and if they invade, push them against that wall for fun and profit

Fundamentals: How did you build that wall? What are its defects? Which attacks can it support? If they pressure that wall, how will you keep the invasions in mind? Can the wall be fixed if it has weaknesses? Is the timing right for that kind of a fix? Can I induce a fight which will allow me to fix with good timing?

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Post #16 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:11 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
Polama wrote:
Here's my take:

I would call this a basic:
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . X . .
$$ . . X . W .
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . . . .[/go]


the key point is marked (plus the 3 symmetrical points to it)


Why isn't it a silly move?


Yes, in a way that was my point =)

I don't think it's controversial that the marked stone is a vital point http://senseis.xmp.net/?DiagonalMove, http://senseis.xmp.net/?WeakPlayersDiagonal.

But you are correct that it's an odd place to play with no surrounding context. Totally isolated, you wouldn't play there. But how many tsumego come down to some variation on playing here in a complicated shape? Just like a hane at the head of two stones. Great advice. Not something to do automatically. As I see the linked articles uses of the terms, the basics points out generally useful things to do (e.g., punch somebody in martial arts), and the fundamentals refines that into something actually useful (knowing when to play there, knowing how to punch)

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Post #17 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:21 am 
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Polama wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
Polama wrote:
Here's my take:

I would call this a basic:
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . X . .
$$ . . X . W .
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . . . .[/go]


the key point is marked (plus the 3 symmetrical points to it)


Why isn't it a silly move?


Yes, in a way that was my point =)

I don't think it's controversial that the marked stone is a vital point http://senseis.xmp.net/?DiagonalMove, http://senseis.xmp.net/?WeakPlayersDiagonal.



If that's not controversial, it ought to be.

Quote:
But you are correct that it's an odd place to play with no surrounding context.


Context is everything. In a similar vein, an amateur student of Lin Haifeng's (Rin Kaiho's) defended a mistake as merely being played out of order. Lin replied, "Go is the order of play."

Quote:
But how many tsumego come down to some variation on playing here in a complicated shape?


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . X . .
$$ . . X a W .
$$ . . . . . .
$$ . . . . . .[/go]


Yes, it is fundamental that :wc: prevents Black from making an eye at "a".

Quote:
Just like a hane at the head of two stones. Great advice. Not something to do automatically.


Actually, the proverb in Japanese says to hane at the head of two stones "without looking". OC, there are exceptions, but the hane is almost always a good move. :)

By contrast, :wc: in the diagram is good only in certain contexts.

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Post #18 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:33 am 
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I liked the article very much.
  • To recap, taking a punch as an example, the 'basics' would be the actual movement of punching, while the 'fundamentals' would be how to utilize this movement to actually hurt the other guy. Right? Because if all you know is the movement, you are more likely to break your own wrist than to make the other guy cry. I have seen it happen. So teaching should go in tandem - basics and fundamentals together.

In terms of Go - I have been thinking of a similar distinction for a long time, except I have been calling it a *move* on one side and an *idea* on the other. So, a *move* would be a technique you can apply, like a geta or the already mentioned 'hane at the head of two stones' or the toothpaste technique. The *idea* would be what makes the move effective. Capturing stones in geta blindly is not effective and it will more likely do more harm than good in your game, even if you have the technique down to a perfection - if you don't know the wider idea behind it, in particular that some stones are worth capturing and some are not, and which, and why.

One example I run into recently was the concept of connecting.
  • A beginner got fixated on making connecting moves, he got really good at it, so all his groups are nicely connected into one global blob... but he was still losing games terribly all the time. The problem was that even when all his groups were independently alive - he was still wasting many moves to connect them. The *move* or the technique was there, but the *idea* was missing. Nobody told him that there are groups worth connecting and ones which are not, and how to tell them apart. Eventually, he learned, but it was a long and thorny road, hard to watch.

The example of 'pull out of atari' vs 'don't save junk stones' of jts is a good one, i think.
  • I often put myself in the shoes of the beginner, and can feel how exasperating this can be. You are told those two things, shown the moves, but never explained why or which stones are junk and which are not. In one game - this is the move, period. In another game - that is the move, period. What the heck?!? Learning these two seemingly contradictory things actually leads to more confusion than good.

Same can be said for most other 'techniques' we learn.
  • Even a blind monkey can learn the most complex joseki if given enough bananas, but this does not mean it would ever beat a human player even if the human does not know that particular joseki. Because he monkey will never have the *idea* behind the joseki. And this, the *idea*, is where the real strength in Go lies. Of course, technique is important too, but I think secondary.

So - in general - I think that an *idea* is much stronger than a *move*. Knowing a move and applying is without understanding makes you a very weak player, even if the move itself is perfect. Knowing an idea, even when you don't always find the best move to go with it, makes you a much stronger player - and much better equipped to go over your game afterwards and find a better move.

Its because Go is not really about moves themselves, but about sequences and shapes - so basically it is about how to make moves work together - which can never be taught just by showing 'a move', its the ideas that bind stones together.

This is one of the reasons I am basically against just teaching *moves* without the *ideas* behind them. I much rather teach ideas without the moves - if we have to leave some part for the student to discover independently, let them discover the moves which best fit into the ideas they know rather than the other way around. Also - ideas are much more general than moves, so it also makes for more efficient teaching and learning, and once you get the ideas down and assimilated, it is not really that hard to find good moves that match them.

PS>
Sorry of all this is a little chaotic... I am still on my first coffee.

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Post #19 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:33 am 
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I suppose I'm vering off topic here, but I don't think it's strictly a question of eye space. Normally the two point extension down or right are very effective from the diagonal. Down, the point the diagonal protects is now peeped. To the right, the extension is peeped. If I want to stop progress down and right, it's the first place I'd look, and if I want to extend down and right, I'd hesitate to form the diagonal if this location is already occupied. Besides stopping the eye where you marked, it also makes it easier to take one of the corners in the eye on the other side, so it lightly attacks that one as well.

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Post #20 Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:09 pm 
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Bantari wrote:
I liked the article very much.
  • To recap, taking a punch as an example, the 'basics' would be the actual movement of punching, while the 'fundamentals' would be how to utilize this movement to actually hurt the other guy. Right? Because if all you know is the movement, you are more likely to break your own wrist than to make the other guy cry. I have seen it happen. So teaching should go in tandem - basics and fundamentals together.



I think making a fist would be considered a rudiment or tesuji. I am no expert in marital arts but it seems like more along the lines, that if a martial arts student didn't learn the purpose of the foot work while doing the dance, the strike has no power, and if they didn't learn to keep their opponent off balance, when they get hit, it hurts.

The analogy I have in my mind, is why people don't learn Fuseki. Why don't people learn Fuseki? Because if their opponent doesn't play along with the basic moves, they don't know how to respond, why don't they know how to respond? Because they didn't learn the fundamentals of the Fuseki, they just learned the basic moves...

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