Over and over, I'm told by karate people that empty hand should be learned first. There reasons range from 1) solid stances should be learned first, 2)self defense done empty hand should be learned first, 3)immature students are weeded out, 4)traditionally seperate studies (ergo...my study of karate should come first with my student..as that is the way I learned it).

I'm calling that reasoning on the table. As a newbie, what does it matter what door one enters first when starting the martial arts. Philosophically speaking, the door is different for each student anyway.