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Stances & Footwork

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4.0 Stances & Footwork

In kickboxing, as in all fighting arts, it is essential to use the body positions and movements most appropriate to attack and defense. These must be consistent with the requirements for balance, coordination, accuracy, speed, timing and power.


Mobility is perhaps the most important attribute of attack and defense. Power is of great value only together with mobility. Static power is of lesser value. The point has been well recognized throughout the ages and needs no belaboring. A good stance, therefore, should accomplish mainly two things: allow for mobility and allow for good balance (stability) in attack and defense. As long as any stance complies with these two requirements it is a good stance: there are literally scores of good stances. For this reason in kickboxing we teach two basic training stances with the understanding that each fighter will develop his own stances. This is what actually happens in boxing and to a greater degree in karate, where people study a great number of formalized stances but depart from these "classical" stances in competition and use their own. A major determining factor for the choice of a stance is the distance from the opponent. For this reason we are studying two stances, which differ from each other precisely in this respect. A guard is a stance used in competition.


Full-Distance Basic Training Stance (B.T.S.)


Should a normal or a southpaw stance be used? The answer to this question is: both. In kickboxing we strive to develop ambidexterity. We should be able to fight almost equally well on both sides.

4.2.1 Full-Distance Basic Training Stance, (B.T.S.)

The full-distance stance is the most commonly used stance in kickboxing because it lends itself well to the use of the feet. We will describe all techniques on one side only. Reverse the instructions for the other side, with the understanding that practice on both sides is necessary for proficiency. Stand at ease and step back with the right foot, so that the feet are almost at right angles to each other at shoulder width. The left foot points directly ahead at an imaginary opponent while the right points to the right. Shoulders should be parallel to a line joining the right and left toes. The left leg is extended, but not tense, while the right knee is slightly bent. Weight is distributed on both feet, but slightly more on the right (rear) foot. Keep body straight and look straight ahead. Now bring the right fist to heart level, about two inches away from the chest, nails facing in. Make sure the right elbow is in light contact with the right side. Lift left fist, nails facing down, left knuckles at shoulder level and left elbow slightly bent. Left arm is almost fully extended. Practice with a partner at full-distance, taking the B.T.S. and looking through the other's upper chest as if he were made out of transparent glass. Notice that the field of vision encompasses all of the body.

Half- Distance B.T.S.

4.2.2 Half-Distance B.T.S.

The full-distance stance allows for great mobility and stability in the use of the feet when, because of the distance, the use of the fists would be impractical. At half-distance, however, using the fists efficiently is possible and the stance should be quickly adjusted to this end. Pivot on the balls of the feet, sliding the right and left heels away from each other so that knees and toes are slightly turned inward. The knees and the waist are slightly bent, bringing about a natural contraction of the abdominal muscles. Weight distribution remains the same as before. The forward bend at the waist has now brought the right elbow forward so that it protects the liver and the ribs, while the right forearm protects the solar plexus and the fist continues to protect the heart. The body presents itself to the opponent more sideways than before and the left shoulder, slightly higher than the right, protects the chin now tucked against it. The left arm is bent at almost a right angle and the nails of the left fist face to the oblique right at chin level. Practice switching stances swiftly alone or with a partner as before. Notice that with only minor modifications you can change from one stance to the other, according to the distance from your opponent. The half-distance B.T.S. taken on the other side (i.e., to the right) affords lesser protection for the vital organs, therefore, while it should be practiced for the sake of ambidexterity, it should be avoided in actual fighting.


Good footwork enables you to move about for attack and defense with speed, economy and balance. We shall put special emphasis on the footwork from the full-distance B.T.S. since it is the stance used most often in kickboxing. Assuming the left B.T.S. to be the "normal" stance one may switch to the right or "southpaw" B.T.S. as follows:

4.3.1 Forward Switch

Pivot left on the left heel and advance the right foot so that it points toward the opponent. Left foot points to the left. Reverse the position of the arms by crossing them in front of the chest, without dropping the guard or shifting the gaze.


Forward Switch


Backward Switch

4.3.2 Backward Switch

Pivot leftward on the right heel, pointing right foot toward opponent, and retreat left foot so that it points leftward. Reverse position of the arms without dropping the guard or shifting the gaze. You are again in the right B.T.S.

4.3.3 Advance

Start by moving the rear foot first, so as not to tip off the opponent. The right foot is brought up against the left heel, right toes facing to the right. Left foot slides forward on the floor at the same distance as for the left B.T.S. Nothing else changes. Do not drop your guard, and continue pointing the left foot toward opponent.

4.3.4 Retreat

In this case the forward foot moves first, because it is the target closest to the opponent and within his kicking reach. Lift left heel and bring it up against right ankle, sliding the ball of the foot on the floor,

4.3.5 Jumping Advance

Stomp right heel on the floor against the left and propel yourself in a jump forward. Land on the left foot, always pointing it at the opponent. Adjust the right foot to the normal left B.T.S. distance. Nothing else changes. Slide left foot to the left, toes always pointing towards opponent, to about the width of your shoulders. Adjust right foot to normal B.T.S.

4.3.6 Jumping Retreat

Stomp the ball of the left foot near the right heel and push away. Jump to the rear, landing on your right foot. Adjust the distance of the left foot to the left B.T.S. Nothing else changes. In all techniques make sure not to drop your guard.

4.3.7 About Face

From the left B.T.S., make an about face, without taking a step, by pivoting on the heels to the right, bringing the left fist close to the chest and extending the right arm and fist as for the right B.T.S. Do not drop your guard, but switch it by crossing the arms in front of the chest. Return to the left B.T.S. by reversing process.

4.3.8 Sidestep

I Toward the Left

Slide left foot to the left, toes always pointing towards opponent, to about the width of your shoulders. Adjust right foot to normal B.T.S.

II. Toward the Right

Slide left foot to the right and adjust right foot to normal B.T.S. Nothing else changes.

Starting to Retreat

4.3.9 Pivot

Face an opponent at your left by pivoting on the right heel. Left foot slides on floor in an arc at normal B.T.S. distance. Reverse the instructions to pivot to the right. Nothing else changes.

4.3.10 Cross-Step


A form of advancing used in special situations. Cross right foot behind the left. The ball of the Cross-Step right foot is resting on the floor, toes pointing toward the left side of the left heel. Both knees are slightly bent. Revert to the B.T.S. by sliding left foot forward and straightening legs. This is the fighting form of the cross-step, and it is slightly different in the position of the arms than the one used for training in Comseks I and Il.

4.3.11 Adjusting Distance

If you are so close to your opponent that a distance adjustment of less than a full step is required, slide left foot forward and immediately attack with the right. After the attack, the right foot may return to the left B.T.S., or, alternatively, may be set forward to the right B.T.S. Such advance, with a change of stance from left to right, may be necessary in order to follow a retreating opponent.

4.3.12 Jumping Foot Switch


Jumping Foot Switch

The jumping foot switch is used for delivering kicks. In contrast to the spectacular kicks demonstrated in some forms of foot-fighting, practical circumstances require that most techniques be performed with the feet as close to the floor as possible. Indeed, we feel that jumping high in order to deliver a kick places the attacker in a vulnerable position, particularly if he is caught off balance upon landing. The very purpose of jumping is to gain distance toward or away from the opponent. This can be achieved with proper footwork, sliding on the floor, and with minimal danger of being caught off-balance. Here is a very useful technique:

From the left B.T.S. : Take a big step with the right foot and set it ahead of the left so that its ball is in contact with the floor and the toes are turned well toward the left foot. This is very important because it lines up the right hip with the target you are about to attack with the right foot. Should you not position the right toes as indicated, you will be off target. In the process of taking that step, in a wide rounded motion bring your right arm, slightly bent at the elbow, in line with your right side so that it provides it with some protection.

Hop and switch feet so that the left foot is now where the right was, while the right is positioned at the ready position for a kick, usually a side-of-foot kick.* After the kick is delivered, the right foot comes behind the left as you return to the left B.T.S.


This is the distance at which one may advantageously use his fists. We have seen that it requires only a few changes in order to adjust your stance to the distance of the opponent. Jumping at half distance is not recommended. One must glide on the floor and never deliver a blow while in motion. Always have both feet well braced on the floor while delivering a blow. Thus you will be able to develop a maximum power in full balance.

4.4.1 Advance

Assuming a left B.T.S., slide the left foot three to six inches forward and follow immediately with the right, which stops at the normal B.T.S. distance. Slide feet. Do not jump. In short, follow your opponent with the left foot, much as when "adjusting distance" (4.3.11).

4.4.2 Retreat

Start retreating with the left foot and follow with the right. Slide feet. Do not jump. This retreat allows you to avoid a blow, induces the opponent to come closer and gives you the opportunity to counterattack.

4.4.3 Sidestep

In order to sidestep to the right, slide the right foot three to six inches to the right and adjust the left foot to the normal half-distance B.T.S. This technique is used when an opponent attacks wildly; it allows for a powerful left counterpunch to the body, the impact of which is increased by the forward momentum of the opponent. In order to sidestep to the left, slide left foot three to six inches to the left and follow immediately with the right, as before. This step is rarely used because it often positions you for one of the most powerful punches an opponent can deliver. At times, however, it becomes necessary to use this step in order to augment the power of a right counterpunch. 

* See Comsek I, page 45.

Sidestep and Counter


This is absolutely essential for proficiency. One can never train enough in footwork. The ability to evade attacks and to counterattack powerfully in full balance is directly dependent on fast and accurate footwork. Even proper judgment of distance and the ability to create openings are of little benefit without the fast footwork that enables one to take advantage of the opportunity. Good footwork also enables one to advance without tipping off one's opponent, to retreat without losing the ability to counter and to maintain the initiative at all times.

Proper training first requires footwork by itself, then with kicks alone, then with punches alone, and, finally, combinations of both.

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