I take a slightly different stance - do what is comfortable and lets you move your boat for the distances you paddle. I paddle with some advanced paddlers, and on the whole, few have good form. The true torso rotation and leg pushing is mostly only used by the racers. Can't recall a time I saw recreational paddlers (or even expedition paddlers) do it. At most they "shoulder rotate", not torso rotate.
What was really eye opening to me was the video clip in one of the This Is The Sea videos where they paddled with Paul Caffyn, the first person to circumnavigate Australia. He is an arm paddler - with no torso rotation at all. We are all taught that we must torso rotate, or the small muscles in our arms will get too tired. Didn't seem to bother him.
So I think the better early goal is to work toward shoulder rotation, rather than full on torso rotation. Keep the arms from bending much, set up a good box of space in front of you (the beach ball or pizza box), and have your shoulders move (so those larger muscles get involved) rather than using the arm muscles. There is very little actual torso rotation in this, more your shoulders moving forward and backward. This will help you move away from arm paddling, but isn't as much of a leap as going to the difficult full on torso rotation. And if you do get this, and you do want that full on racing torso rotation stroke, it is a much smaller leap.
But if you don't get this and still arm paddle, don't fret. If it worked for a lap of Australia, it would definitely work for a lap of the local pond.
Custom Greenland Paddles
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