For the last footwork Friday post, the great Jack Slack broke down the stance for us. The previous articles dealt with angular footwork. This week, we’ll begin looking at linear footwork. First up is the drag step footwork. I associate this footwork more with panantukan – empty hands – or boxing or kickboxing. But step-drag works with weapons as well. Footwork should be combined to make footwork combinations. Angular and linear can be combined to create a diverse arsenal of movement. But let’s dive right into the step-drag.
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.
One of the best things about the step-drag is that its name is also its description. Start in a staggered stance with feet about shoulder width apart. The foot in the direction you want to move is the one that steps. If you want to move forward, your forward foot steps. If you want to move right, your right foot steps. Then, drag your other step to return to your stance. This step can be done in any direction. The concept applies whether moving backwards or to the side.
When I teach this, I stack two steps together before changing direction. This allows us to start putting the footwork together in combination, and it keeps us in discipline. If our opponent backs away farther than we can get in one step, we just continue the step. We don’t want to break footwork when pursuing. Also, I teach the step drag in reverse, but I don’t like exiting on a linear path. Humans move faster forward than backwards; so, it’s easier for your attacker to chase you down when exiting backwards linearly. If weapons are involved, the extended reach of the weapon may still bridge the gap created by your linear step backwards. Exiting is best achieved when circling or angling out. But we need to learn the concept, and if step-dragging backwards is the best available option, then we have to be able to execute. It’s a tool we need in our arsenal even if it we never use it.
I use this footwork a lot when I’m hitting the heavy bag. When stick sparring, I use it sparingly, but I do use it. I mix it in with angular footwork to avoid creating a predictable footwork pattern. While I prefer angular footwork and getting offline, it’s important for a well developed striking skill set to have linear footwork as well. Step-drag is a simple, effective pattern to use.