Seeking advice on triangular footwork.

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts - General' started by nerdette_007, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. nerdette_007

    nerdette_007 Yellow Belt

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    Hello!

    I very recently began FMA classes, and triangular footwork has me stuck. I spent upwards of an hour with an instructor working on footwork alone, and continue to have the same problems.

    I'm a reckless hopper, and tend to do a combination jump/Ali shuffle kind of thing every time I speed up. I can never maintain an equilateral triangle, I'm always drifting or going...well, isosceles. I always bring my feet together, and I'm totally lacking in fluidity.

    So yes, I know that practice will eventually make perfect. But do you have any tips, tricks, advice, drills, anything at all to help with my home practice? I've tried putting post-its on the floor to represent the "points" of my triangle, but then I'm always looking at my feet!

    Thanks for your time and consideration...this forum rocks. :)
     
  2. Guro Harold

    Guro Harold Senior Master

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    Hello, welcome to the MT and FMA forums!!!

    Here are some things you can do to practice the footwork:
    - use your sticks and form a triangle so you can practice.
    - you can also form the triangle with chalk if you train outside or duct tape (make sure your carpet can handle it).
    - I haven't used this method yet but some have used dried halved coconut shells (three in all) to practice the footwork. This is supposedly was a traditional method to teach the footwork and it's principle rule that being only one foot should be on a coconut shell at any given time.

    That is the rule that can be utilized by whatever method that you use to form and execute the triangle footwork.

    Take care,

    Guro Harold
     
  3. nerdette_007

    nerdette_007 Yellow Belt

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    Thank you, sir! I'll be giving these a try.
     
  4. Stick Dummy

    Stick Dummy <b>"Great Guro Wizard of the Gun and Knife"</b>

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    Welcome to M/T and the wonderful world of FMA.

    Patience- Don't think, FLOW...

    When I started my instructors used music that you could step to the beat.

    Put on some soothing music like Rammstein "Du Hast" and go for it.

    After a while you'll just do it. Then you can work on precision and changing to forward and backward steps and cross steps.

    Just smile and keep steppin
     
  5. nerdette_007

    nerdette_007 Yellow Belt

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    Thanks, Stick- maybe I am over-thinking this. And I like your soundtrack suggestion...I usually practice to Slayer. :)
     
  6. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Upwards of... an hour! Unless you are very, very gifted it's going to take a good deal longer than that. Don't sweat it, be patient and stick with it. Your instructor will guide you.

    .

    Here's another thing: the FMAs are diverse. There are a lot of different approaches. This includes footwork. So again, while the internet is great for light discussion, and maybe picking up some fun ideas for training, it's no place to learn the specifics of technique. For example, most FMA stylists would agree that hopping or jumping, like you see in some sport TKD schools, isn't helpful for what we do. And while many systems teach triangle pattern footwork, or at least some form of angling and off-lining, no two systems approach it exactly the same way. For example, in the two systems I've trained, we never strive for a perfect equilateral trinagle. We base our position relative to our opponents. This is important to consider before you take into account any advice I might offer.

    Chalk or tape on the floor is good as a reference to glance at periodically before and after moving, but I prefer to work facing an object that represents my opponent. That can be a tire rack, a heavy bag, a tree-trunk, post or even a couple of stools stacked up. Rather than look at my feet, I focus on the object that represents my opponent. I judge my angling by how I move in relation to this object. Experiment with your degree of off-lining, your length of step, and so on until you flow smoothly and get the range and angle you want. Good luck.
     
  7. nerdette_007

    nerdette_007 Yellow Belt

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    Thank you, geezer. That was an excellent, excellent post. :)

    I have a bad habit of gauging my progress based on the other beginners in my class, all of whom have previous martial arts experience. I get frustrated and feel like I'm "falling behind". Hence this ridiculous need to "get it" in an hour...you're right, the only reason they're ahead of me is because they have practice. I'll keep working on it at home..I've already laid some painter's tape, which helps because I can feel it with my feet. And I like your idea of incorporating an object. I have a potted palm tree that's the perfect size.

    Thanks again. You've all been very helpful.
     
  8. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum! :)

    I can only echo the advice that you've already received. First off, take your time! No need to worry about picking things up over night. You'll find that the footwork and hand coordination will take some time, but with practice, you'll get it. One thing that I always see new people do, no matter what they're doing, is that they remain stiff and rigid. Stiff and rigid, IMO, have no place in the FMAs. Just relax and go with the flow, as we like to say. :)

    As for the footwork, Harold mentioned the use of the sticks. Definately a great drill. This will certainly help with your forward and backward angles. If you dont have access to a full length mirror, then you may have to look at your feet, in the beginnging, but after a while, the movements will feel natural and you'll find yourself looking less and less.

    Keep training hard and before you know it, it'll be natural. :)
     
  9. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Purple Belt

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    This made me smile. "Upwards of an hour." When I started eskrima, I spent upwards of three months focusing not exclusively on footwork, but very heavily. There's no secret. Familiarity breeds proficiency. But it's absolutely worth it. Footwork is what makes everything else work the way it's supposed to work.

    You're new. Lacking fluidity is the order of the day.

    So? I don't see a big problem with looking at your feet. For now. You're building muscle memory and kinesthetic awareness. Your body is going to learn what it feels like when your feet are in the right place, your shoulders are angled properly, etc. The more familiar you get with that feeling, the less dependent you'll be on looking down, and you'll be freed up to see what's going on around you. But expecting yourself to do that right off the bat is unrealistic and counterproductive. You'll fail, get frustrated, and pack it in. Instead, acknowledge that it's a process and you're just starting it.

    That said, you may want to have someone "swing" a stick very slowly at you while you practice. Not so you can genuinely avoid it, but so you get a sense for the "spaces" in which this footwork operates. Stepping into that void just in front of the stick's arc, stepping backward and then into the void that the stick has just vacated, etc.

    If form does indeed follow function (as I believe it should), then contemplating the function (however slowly) will help you develop a sense for proper form. But only in concert with proper instruction. Otherwise, you're guessing. And how often you're right is a direct byproduct of experience.


    Stuart
     
  10. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Slow and steady is the way to go! Take your time practice, practice and more practice and eventually it will seep in. Do not rush or worry about progress just go with the flow! ;)
     
  11. nerdette_007

    nerdette_007 Yellow Belt

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    Thanks again to everyone for the great advice. I'm pleased to report that my footwork is advancing nicely! I've been incorporating the feet into my 12-strike and blocks, and I'm still clumsy but there's a semblance of rhythm there. Also, no more hopping!

    And I find it reassuring that nobody got this in an hour. It seems deceptively simple, at first...
     
  12. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Aye it does sound deceptively simple...and when you see a skilled practitioner do it, they make it look like nothing at all. :)

    BTW...you're on to something good with the tape. My former FMA teachers did the same...I was going to suggest it earlier but you beat me to it. :lol:
     
  13. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    When I saw the hour comment I smiled as well as many others here.

    I remember being in the same stance for an hour and not even allowed to use my foot work. Slow and steady as others have stated is the best path.
     
  14. Stickgrappler

    Stickgrappler Purple Belt

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    Hello all:

    *bows deeply*

    Great advice already and glad to read you have made progress.

    My johnny-come-lately post:

    It's ok to go slow, no need to do stuff at speed and not have the proper form down yet.

    I've found invaluable to me from DBMA training the "Metronome training" methodology. You are the "Fighter" (the one doing the drill) and your partner is the "Metronome" (aka the "Feeder"). Metronome starts when he sees the Fighter is ready. He feeds slow steady strikes like a metronome. The Fighter works slowly until he finds his rhythm/"gets" the drill. You can then progressively amp up the speed and intensity, but in the initial stages of learning anything new, I've found metronome training to be most helpful.

    Guro Marc Denny has a saying:

    "Slow down to the speed of what you don't know"

    HTH.

    Very truly yours in the MA,

    ~sg123
     

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