One of the Filipino martial arts secrets is its beautiful footwork. I love watching skilled FMA’ers move. In that spirit, I’m going to try a new segment here on the blog: Footwork Friday. Every Friday for a year, I’m going to try to write about footwork. This is gonna require some work on my part. A weekly article about footwork is a forced study for me to revisit what I’ve learned with fresh eyes. I hope to include videos and animations as well. So, let’s dive right on into the first attempt.
Disclaimer: The footwork discussed below is from Counterpoint Tactical System as I’ve learned it from Master Zach Whitson. Any errors or inconsistencies are mine. The spirit of this series is me studying footwork in more depth. I don’t claim to know everything, and I will make mistakes. But, again, those mistakes are mine. Also, this article is for reference only and should be used as a secondary source only. Please, see a Filipino martial arts instructor if you wish to really and accurately learn these techniques.
Triangular footwork is a hallmark of the Filipino martial arts. Angular footwork is a beautiful thing to watch, and it can really confound an opponent. TJ Dillashaw’s masterful performance against Renan Barao involved taking angles, and Barao had no answer for it. If taking angles works against a fighter at the top of his game, we should look to use angular footwork as part of our strategy. In CTS, we start with two triangles as an introduction to footwork. First we’ll look at the reverse triangle, which is known in other arts as the female triangle.
In the reverse triangle, the practitioner starts at the point of the triangle, facing the base. For this article, we are not going to connect the base, which is why it is shown as a dashed line. Step with your left foot out at an angle, but do not move your right foot. The length of the step should be a natural stride for now. Bring the left foot back to the pinnacle of the triangle and make similar step with the right foot out on an angle. Bring the right foot back. There you have it: your first angular footwork.
The above description is for novices. It’s important to go slow and to work on the mechanics. We want our form to be correct before increasing speed. Master Zach Whitson says that, “form is the driver of technique.” By going slow, we teach our bodies the correct form and the correct technique. Once we can correctly do the technique without thinking about it, slow practice that focuses on form pays off in the form of maintenance. We can also increase the complexity as well as the speed.