Footwork and Movement

Shatteredzen

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I really don't think this get's the time it deserves in most cases. When you first start out, foot work feels like the veggies on the side of your plate that you must eat and later on we find ourselves going back to it to train again and again. Even many experienced competitors neglect footwork or downplay its importance in winning fights. What are some observations or crucial elements people should add to their tool kit? Does your style have particular lessons on footwork you find very helpful that you could share here?

Personally, I like studying the footwork of some of the greatest fighters, then trying out particular nuances when I have time on the mat. Here is Sugar Ray Leonard's footwork in depth, in many ways he takes what Ali did and expands on it.


Then there is Samart Payakaroon, one of the greatest of the muay thai greats, who used Ali and Leonard's footwork but developed it for Muay Thai in a way that is just brilliant to see. The way he combines his boxing form with the Muay Thai, even his leg checks become these things of elegant brilliance.

 

Martial D

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Timing and distance control are the most important factors in any physical altercation. If you are still on your feet that means footwork.

I'd say the only ones that downplay it are the ones that don't do anything live
 
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Shatteredzen

Shatteredzen

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Timing and distance control are the most important factors in any physical altercation. If you are still on your feet that means footwork.

I'd say the only ones that downplay it are the ones that don't do anything live
Any specific observations? For example, I hear to never crossover step in TMA quite a bit, while boxing specifically has the crossover step as a technique that can be talked about in depth.
 

Tony Dismukes

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For example, I hear to never crossover step in TMA quite a bit, while boxing specifically has the crossover step as a technique that can be talked about in depth.
"Never" is a word to be cautious with. I tell all my students "every 'rule' I give you is just a general guideline for where you are right now. Eventually you'll learn the right time and situation to break those rules."
 

wab25

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For example, I hear to never crossover step in TMA quite a bit
Interesting... Here is Tekki Shodan:

It shows up again in Goju Shi Ho Dai (at the 1 minute mark here):

If you allow for stances that have crossed legs... but are not direct cross over steps... Bassai Dai, Bassai Sho, Taikyoku Shodan...

They are there, even in the kata.
 

Martial D

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Any specific observations? For example, I hear to never crossover step in TMA quite a bit, while boxing specifically has the crossover step as a technique that can be talked about in depth.
Well crossing your feet leaves you ripe to be swept or taken down. This is not a concern in pure boxing.

As a general rule it's best to move the forward foot first and widen and have the rear follow when advancing, reverse when retracting. Feet about shoulder width apart for best stability and mobility.

The only time I'd personally do the opposite (closing the stance rear foot to forward foot) is if I'm setting up a Superman punch, but that's more a fun sparring move I don't think I'd ever try when it counts lol
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I hear to never crossover step in TMA quite a bit,
When you walk, you are crossing your legs. If you move toward your opponent, to cross your legs has no issue. It's when you move side way and when you are in your opponent's kicking range, there will be issue there.

Most of the foot sweep require 2 contact points.

1. Your foot on your opponent's foot, and
2. Your hand to pull down his shoulder.

When you cross your legs, your opponent can take you down by only 1 contact point (the foot contact).

When you have to cross your legs in your opponent's kicking range, if your back leg is parallel to the ground, and above the other knee before landing, you can avoid that foot sweep.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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Does your style have particular lessons on footwork you find very helpful that you could share here?
To use your shin bone to run into the inside of your opponent's leg can be a good footwork.
 

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JowGaWolf

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Any specific observations? For example, I hear to never crossover step in TMA quite a bit, while boxing specifically has the crossover step as a technique that can be talked about in depth.
I hear this too but TMA has a cross stance so I ignore it. Nothing wrong with crossing steps. It's like everything else. Right time - Right place
 

isshinryuronin

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Here is Sugar Ray Leonard's footwork in depth, in many ways he takes what Ali did and expands on it.

Then there is Samart Payakaroon, one of the greatest of the muay thai
What excellent videos of these fighters! They shared many of the same qualities - raw speed, mastery of movement, and mongoose-like reflexes with an uncanny ability to gauge distance - beyond the abilities of mortal men. More importantly, they knew how to integrate these skills to all work together in a single maneuver. It was like listening to a symphony, a beautiful blend of music. The actual strikes and knockdowns shown in the videos were almost anticlimactic.

Punching and kicking is the focus of most martial artists, but they're just one aspect (the last, and perhaps, easiest step) of fighting. The real art is the control and manipulation of position, distance and angles. Of the several qualities I listed in the first paragraph, most are natural born gifts, given to a few elite individuals. The one skill us regular people can really develop is movement, so footwork is something we can all practice and substantially improve.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I hear this too but TMA has a cross stance so I ignore it. Nothing wrong with crossing steps. It's like everything else. Right time - Right place
There is different between you move one leg

1. behind the other leg (stealing step).
2. in front of the other leg (cover step).

1 is safer than 2. 2 is the one that people should worry about.
 
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Shatteredzen

Shatteredzen

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What excellent videos of these fighters! They shared many of the same qualities - raw speed, mastery of movement, and mongoose-like reflexes with an uncanny ability to gauge distance - beyond the abilities of mortal men. More importantly, they knew how to integrate these skills to all work together in a single maneuver. It was like listening to a symphony, a beautiful blend of music. The actual strikes and knockdowns shown in the videos were almost anticlimactic.

Punching and kicking is the focus of most martial artists, but they're just one aspect (the last, and perhaps, easiest step) of fighting. The real art is the control and manipulation of position, distance and angles. Of the several qualities I listed in the first paragraph, most are natural born gifts, given to a few elite individuals. The one skill us regular people can really develop is movement, so footwork is something we can all practice and substantially improve.
I disagree, I think it can be trained and learned. Certainly the totality of what makes world champions the greatest is a confluence of talent, training and raw predisposition or genetics, etc. I think we can reach higher and get to at least a mastery of movement or a healthy blend of speed, timing and dexterity with training and effort.
 
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Shatteredzen

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There is different between you move one leg

1. behind the other leg (stealing step).
2. in front of the other leg (cover step).

1 is safer than 2. 2 is the one that people should worry about.
Do the Chinese MA utilize western style boxing movements for dynamic movement? Is there something I could watch that shows some of these Chinese footwork techniques in practical application like the way Muay Thai for example has distinctive footwork?
 
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Shatteredzen

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Interesting... Here is Tekki Shodan:

It shows up again in Goju Shi Ho Dai (at the 1 minute mark here):

If you allow for stances that have crossed legs... but are not direct cross over steps... Bassai Dai, Bassai Sho, Taikyoku Shodan...

They are there, even in the kata.
What about in actual stand up fighting though? I have had to learn tons of different ways to do footwork in Japanese martial arts, but we don't see much of it outside of forms or in a fight where foot placement is more dynamic and movement itself is flowing in real time.

I think this is a better example of translating some of the karate footwork into a more practical use for fighting. Forms in my experience, are only ever good for forms.

 

Martial D

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I hear this too but TMA has a cross stance so I ignore it. Nothing wrong with crossing steps. It's like everything else. Right time - Right place
If the right time is getting tossed and the right place is on your own ***, sure. I find your reasoning (it's in TMA so it must be ok) a bit foolish.
 
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Shatteredzen

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If the right time is getting tossed and the right place is on your own ***, sure. I find your reasoning (it's in TMA so it must be ok) a bit foolish.
What footwork helps/prevents getting tossed?
 

wab25

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What about in actual stand up fighting though? I have had to learn tons of different ways to do footwork in Japanese martial arts, but we don't see much of it outside of forms or in a fight where foot placement is more dynamic and movement itself is flowing in real time.

I think this is a better example of translating some of the karate footwork into a more practical use for fighting. Forms in my experience, are only ever good for forms.

Sure... that is one way to translate some of the karate footwork into use. And by some, I mean one stance. Sure, in that one stance, doing that exact footwork, he does not ever use a crossover step.

There are other stances in karate that can be translated into practical use for fighting. You can also transition from one stance to the other. There are plenty of places where a crossover step is used... which is why it was included in the kata.

If you take a karate front stance from the kata, and make it more practical for use in fighting, then you will end up with a stance very similar to the first stance in your video (feet facing forward on two different rails). In fact, they do that in a very similar way for very similar reasons, as expressed in your video. The fact that he (and the rest of the MMA crowd) do not credit karate or TMA with having similar stances does not mean that TMA has only the one side stance.

Listening to the MMA crowd, Judo has only two throws, a hip throw and hane goshi (even though what they call hane goshi is no where near what a real hane goshi is). Karate, TKD and all TMA have only one stance, that side stance. That works for the MMA crowd. But, in reality Judo has 67+ throws. Karate, TKD and TMA have many stances.
 

Martial D

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What footwork helps/prevents getting tossed?
Not crossing your legs is a start. Once they are crossed there becomes a singular fulcrom point by which you can have your feet taken out from under you, and there isn't even a mobility tradeoff; you are also less mobile.

I can't think of a single situation putting yourself in this position could be beneficial.
 
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Shatteredzen

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Not crossing your legs is a start. Once they are crossed there becomes a singular fulcrom point by which you can have your feet taken out from under you, and there isn't even a mobility tradeoff; you are also less mobile.

I can't think of a single situation putting yourself in this position could be beneficial.
So you are saying there is never a reason to crossover step in practical footwork? In MMA for example, should someone with classical boxing training unlearn their crossover step footwork?
 
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Shatteredzen

Shatteredzen

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Sure... that is one way to translate some of the karate footwork into use. And by some, I mean one stance. Sure, in that one stance, doing that exact footwork, he does not ever use a crossover step.

There are other stances in karate that can be translated into practical use for fighting. You can also transition from one stance to the other. There are plenty of places where a crossover step is used... which is why it was included in the kata.

If you take a karate front stance from the kata, and make it more practical for use in fighting, then you will end up with a stance very similar to the first stance in your video (feet facing forward on two different rails). In fact, they do that in a very similar way for very similar reasons, as expressed in your video. The fact that he (and the rest of the MMA crowd) do not credit karate or TMA with having similar stances does not mean that TMA has only the one side stance.

Listening to the MMA crowd, Judo has only two throws, a hip throw and hane goshi (even though what they call hane goshi is no where near what a real hane goshi is). Karate, TKD and all TMA have only one stance, that side stance. That works for the MMA crowd. But, in reality Judo has 67+ throws. Karate, TKD and TMA have many stances.
I'm simply asking for a better example than forms. The footwork showcased in those forms is impractical and not a good example of something you would use in a fight. I linked that video as an example of explaining TMA footwork in a dynamic context that can be used in a real fight, not as an example of how a crossover step is never used in Karate, nor am I taking the position that this is an absolute.
 
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