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Better Fighting Footwork in 20 Minutes

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Better Fighting Footwork in 20 Minutes

by Keith Pascal


How would you like to be able to move left or right, around your opponent, and be able to fire off instant kicks better than before? Because of your tightened footwork, your kicks will have a better chance of surprising your opponent.

Follow along, and 20 minutes after reading this article, you’ll see a marked improvement in your footwork.



Footwork Warm-up — The Variations

Spend a minute on each of the following ways of stepping: Begin with your natural steps from side to side. How do you move to the left and then to the right, when you are in martial arts mode? Make your shifts as natural as possible. Freely move, first left, then right … back and forth, several steps in each direction.

Note: Imagine, a football, volleyball, or badminton team practicing their directed, side-to-side quick stepping, during training. The leader points one way and then the other. The team facing him moves as quickly as possible in the direction that he points. They keep moving to one side, until the leader signals a change of direction.



After you have spent a minute examining and warming up with your natural movements, it’s time to switch….

Next, move from side to side with small steps, where neither foot crosses in front or behind the other. It’s like a replacement kick. If you are moving to the right, then the left foot moves right up to touching or replacing the right foot, but it doesn’t cross over.

Put many of these together, and practice moving in both directions. Practice this way of moving side to side for one minute.

And finally, practice moving side to side where your foot slightly crosses over in front or behind the other. For the purposes of this footwork training, it’s your choice whether one foot alternates, first crossing in front, then behind, or if you will always have the same foot crossing behind (or in front of) the other.


Note: Think Line Dancing for this step. Or, for those who know how, imagine dancing the Hora.



Practice crossover stepping in both directions, from side to side, for one minute.


Changing The Path of the Footwork

You are going to practice the above variations on footwork again, one minute each, but with a change. This time, you will circle as you step.

Find a pole, a heavy bag, or a column, and start walking around it. Or you can train with a partner and circle each other.

Spend one minute circling in your natural steps, one minute where the feet “kiss” but don’t cross over, and one minute with crossovers (either alternating or consistent steps in front of or behind).

Circle and subtly and suddenly switch direction of your stepping. Back and forth … five steps around to the right, back three steps to the left. Four more steps to the left, then one back to the right, followed by three to the left.

Back and forth.

So far, you have warmed up for six minutes — three with footwork in a line, and three minutes for the three variations while circling.



The Footwork Blend

Now, spend two minutes blending the three ways that you step around the heavy bag or pole. Your goal is to make the second and third variations as natural as your normal stepping.

Mix and match. Combine. Analyze what makes your first type of footwork natural. Incorporate the details into your other two ways of stepping.

After two minutes, you should be able to move either clockwise or counterclockwise around your object, switching steps naturally. Don’t think about whether your feet are crossing over or stepping side to side, just move. Let your footwork flow naturally.



Take a Break with Kicking Warm-ups

Now, it’s time to take a four-minute break from your circling. Instead of stepping, you are going to get a few kicks ready to incorporate into this training exercise.

Specifically, you want kicks that you can fire off toward the heavy bag (your enemy) while moving around in a circle. For tournaments, you’ll practice high kicks, above the waist. Since my focus is on practical self-defense and not competing, I warm-up with low-line kicks to the shins and knees.


Warning: If you are kicking toward a column or metal pole, then obviously, don’t kick with full force. Avoid injuring your foot during practice … or any other time, if you can help it.


Don’t choose kicks where you have to pivot your body before you kick, like some side kicks. You can figure out how and if you want to incorporate them, later.

Also, avoid any type of spinning kick — that’s beyond the scope of this article.

In the next exercise, you’re going to spring suddenly from your circling steps into a surprising kick. As I said, make it a fast strike, without any extra pivots.

Use your four minutes to practice the chosen kicks from a static position. Stretch appropriately. Kick the air repetitively. There is no circling as you ease into kicking.

Warm-up your kicks as you normally do. (Reminder: Spend four minutes kicking.)



Incredible Kicking Footwork

You have eight minutes left in your twenty-minute session. Spend this time adding kicks while circling around your opponent.

I could break it up for you and tell you to spend two minutes on this, four minutes on that, and a final two minutes on … but I think a looser approach to this final stage will be more beneficial.

In this last phase of your footwork-improvement exercise, spend some time circling your “enemy” in both directions, and during your circling, execute some of your fastest kicks.

After you get a feeling for kicking while circling, I want you to analyze the instant before you kick. What’s happening in that second leading up to your kick?

Do you accidentally raise your shoulders? Shift your balance in a pronounced manner, cluing your opponent into the imminent kick?

Do you stop circling and then kick, or are you able to keep everything fluid … and thus more surprising?

Is there any pause, at all?

Spend this last eight minutes figuring out the best way to seamlessly blend your circling with your instant kick toward the center.

Without me, or anyone else, telling you, this kind of practice, will help you discover on your own the best spot to kick. You’ll naturally find the exact position of your feet for the best, non-telegraphed kick. You’ll find the timing that makes for a surprise kick.

With this exercise, you’ll find your own path as you build from quick movements on a straight line, to circling footwork variations, and on to efficiently kicking while circling your opponent.


Your footwork will improve … a lot.


Some readers will read the above, see the value in the exercise, and then that will be it. They’ll never close the computer and actually practice the progression. The benefit is in developing skill, not just reading about it.

If you have motivation problems when it comes to martial arts … or if there is anything getting in the way of your training (no time, no classes, no training partner,  and of course, no oomph), then check out this ePackage: Martial Arts Motivation


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