In stickfighting, as
in all fighting arts, it is essential to use body positions and ways of moving
about most appropriate to attack and defense. These must be consistent with the
requirements of balance, coordination, accuracy, speed, timing, and power.
Mobility is perhaps the most important attribute for attack and defense. Power
becomes much more effective when coupled with mobility; static power is of
lesser value in fighting. A good stance should, then, allow two things: mobility
and good balance (stability) in both attack and defense. As long as a stance
complies with these two requirements, it is a good stance. There are literally
scores of "good" stances. For this reason, in stickfighting we teach only three
basic training stances or guards, with the understanding that each fighter will
develop his own. This is what actually happens in boxing, kickboxing, and
karate. Classical guards are taught; but very few people actually fight in a
"classical" way. Good footwork enables one to move about for attack and
defense with the greatest speed, economy of motion, and balance. Below, special
emphasis is put on the footwork from left guard 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. The left foot then slides forward on the floor and stops at the same
distance as for the left guard 3. Nothing else changes (Figs. 30-32).
Retreat. In this case the forward foot moves first, because it is the target
closest to the opponent and it should be moved away from his reach. Lift the
left heel and bring it up against the right ankle, sliding the ball of the foot
on the floor, toes always pointing at the opponent. Shift your weight to the
ball of the left foot, push away and retreat by sliding back the right foot to
the normal guard-3 distance. Nothing else changes (see Figs. 32, 31, 30).
Jumping Advance. Stomp your right heel on the floor against the left and propel
yourself, jumping forward. Land on the left foot, always pointing it at the
opponent (Figs. 33-35). Adjust the right foot to the normal left guard-3
distance. Nothing else changes.
Jumping Retreat. Stomp the ball of the left foot near the right heel and push
away, jumping to the rear and landing on your right foot. Adjust the distance of
the left foot to the left guard 3. Nothing else changes (see Figs. 35, 34, 33).
About-face. From the left guard 3, about-face without taking a step by pivoting
on your heels to the right, bringing the left hand close to the chest and
extending the right arm as for a right guard 3. During this action, switch grip
as in the sliding hands exercise (Figs. 36, 37). Return to the left guard 3 by
reversing the process.
Sidestep (toward the right). Slide the left foot to the right, toes always
pointing toward your opponent, about the same distance as the width of your
shoulders (Fig. 38). Adjust the right foot as for left guard 3. For a sidestep
toward the left, slide the left foot to the left and adjust the right as before.
Pivot. Turn to the left by pivoting on the right heel. The left foot slides on
the floor describing an arc at normal left guard-3 distance. Reverse
instructions to pivot to the right.
Cross-step. This is a form of advance used in special situations. Cross the
right foot behind the left. The ball of the right foot is resting on the floor,
toes pointing toward the left side of the left heel. Both knees are slightly
bent (Fig. 39). Revert to left guard 3 by sliding the left foot forward and
straightening up your legs.
Adjusting Distance. When you are so close to the opponent that a distance
adjustment of less than one full step is required, slide the left foot forward
and attack immediately. After the attack, the right foot may return to the left
guard 3, or may be set forward for a right guard 3. Such an advance with a
change of stance from left to right may be necessary in order to follow a
Jumping Foot-Switch. This is used for delivering certain kicks used in
stickfighting. Although spectacular kicks are involved in some forms of
footfighting, stickfighting mainly involves techniques performed with the feet
kept as close to the floor as possible. Indeed, jumping high in order to deliver
a kick places the attacker in a vulnerable position, particularly if he is
caught off balance while landing. The very purpose of jumping is to gain
distance toward or away from the opponent. This can be achieved with proper
footwork, which minimizes the danger of being caught off balance.
Here is a very useful
technique. From left guard 3, take a big step with the right foot and set it
ahead of the left, its ball is in contact with the floor, toes pointing well
inside toward the left foot (Fig. 40). This is very important because it lines
up the right hip with the target you are about to attack with your right foot.
Should you not be in the proper position, your attack will be off the target and
you will need a special effort to readjust it. In the process of taking that
step, bring your right arm in a wide rounded motion, 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 for a kick (Fig. 41), usually, a side-of-foot
kick (see p. 64). After delivering the kick, the right foot comes to rest behind
the left, returning to guard 3.
Training in footwork
is absolutely essential for proficiency. One can never train enough in this
area. The ability to evade attacks and to counterattack powerfully and in full
balance depends on fast and accurate footwork. Even proper judgment of distance
and the ability to create an opening are of little benefit without fast foot
movements, which enable one to take advantage of the opportunity. Good footwork
enables you to advance without tipping off your opponent, to retreat without
losing the ability to counter, and to maintain the initiative at all times.