Special to the Nugget
Once a student has developed a fundamental understanding of various stances, they are then ready to progress to the next level and learn about footwork. Although footwork and movement are certainly related, I make the distinction that proper footwork training must be first and must be considered a separate priority.
So let us define footwork as it applies to martial arts training. Being able to step from one position or point to another one initially appears to be a task as easy as walking. However, closer examination of the process of walking can explain why stepping from one point to another is more complex from a martial point of view. When a person walks, their feet do not move first. Actually, the torso begins to move and the foot then moves to support it. This happens so fast that it is barely noticeable. This explains why people who have infirmities will fear falling if left unaided. They sense that the upper body is moving and fear that the foot will not move in time to catch themselves beforehand. Some people will waddle side to side as they walk to avoid the risk of falling.
When Martial Artists move from one stance to another, they understand a fundamental truth that a balanced stationary stance is stable, but the step to a new position creates a span of time that may be a period of instability or at least, less stable. Therefore, they attempt to minimize that vulnerability.
Obviously, we do not want to cross our feet while stepping, and would rather move the entire body at the same time. To do that, our “core”, the hip area, must move the feet. This ability is acquired through practice. When stepping in any direction, step with the foot closest to that direction. A simple example of using the hips while stepping, may be demonstrated by following this instruction. Imagine that you are side stepping to avoid colliding with someone or something. First step in the direction chosen, then move the second foot out of the way. Next, move in the same manner, but this time, consciously turn your hip to “Pull” the second foot out of the way. If you notice it is faster, it’s because the heavier weight (the hip) was used to pull and move the lighter weight (the foot).
Mr. Weber is the chief instructor at the Aikido Academy of Self-Defense located at 16134 N. Oracle Rd., in Catalina. He has more than 45 years of experience in the Martial Arts and has achieved skills in a variety of disciplines. He also teaches Tai-Chi on Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m.
Please call (520) 825-8500 for information regarding these and other programs. If you wish, check out the website at www.AikidoAcademyOfArizona.com.