Footwork - Fundamental Insanity

10544Walking… It’s one of the first things we learn, but when it comes time to tweak our walking capabilities to martial standards… there can be a struggle. I always ask my students, “What is the most important part of a vehicle in terms of safety?” Answers vary from, seat belts… to steering wheel, brakes… to airbags. And while all of these are truly important safety features on a vehicle, all are for naught without the tires. The tires are the vehicles connection to the ground, and are therefore the first fundamental safety feature. Without good tires, I don’t care how new your brakes are… the tires won’t grip the ground.

Our feet essentially fulfill this same feature. They are our connection to the ground. In swordfighting the essential goal is to control the center line, and while modern fencing only moves forward and back; traditional sword (and any other martial art for that matter) has no limitations in movement. One of my favorite sayings is, “When the swords are equal, the feet make the difference.” Can you out-move your opponent? Can you manipulate their center line effectively with your footwork, so that their sword length is irrelevant? These are things that every swordsman/woman should have in the back of their mind at all times.

Sometimes people complain that footwork practice is boring. I always want to remind people that very seldom do they think about their tires… until they’re bald. But unlike tires, which come off the line in their prime condition… our footwork needs to be developed into prime condition. Don’t forsake basic practice. Don’t forsake the fundamentals. It can be the difference between victory and defeat.

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