Footwork: the difference between good and bad techniques

In life like in martial arts timing is everything: correctly timed footwork allows you to be in the right place at the right time to either strike, block or avoid an attack putting the basis for your next move.

A punch, like a kick or a throwing technique requires by definition correct footwork to maximize its potential.  At the same time correct footwork allows the following crucial actions:

  • align yourself toward the opponent in order to offer a correct posture, stance and weight distribution, suitable for the situation you are in and the strategy you would like to implement
  • shift your weight in the correct way and direction according to the technique you are performing
  • deliver maximum power with every technique by directing appropriately your momentum

I’ll use an example that can be applied to virtually any technique, even when the movements follow a circular line rather than a straight one:

  1. Imagine, as matter of example, to be throwing a straight punch just by simply extending your arm toward your target.  Depending on how strong you are the punch will have a certain level of power.
  2. Now imagine of having your arm already fully extended as in a punching position and you being on a train, travelling at 200 mph: even if you arm doesn’t move your whole body is moving very fast and the impact will be disastrous.
  3. Now, going back to our punch, if you are using a correct step of even a couple of inches in the same direction of your punch and you add this to the correct, well timed, extension of your arm your punch will deliver the sum of the momentum built by the same movement in point 1, together with the extra momentum created by the step.

Different martial arts are some times based on footwork that is so different from each other to look illogical.  Nonetheless when used with their context they work and deliver the desired effect: enhancing the basic movement and delivering unexpected power by making a correct use of our bodies.