Last week, the ranging drill was introduced. This is great footwork for warming up and for figuring out what a comfortable yet mobile stance is. I like this drill when everyone is moving and counting together. But I also like to mix it up by adding in the X pattern. While working the ranging drill all by itself, students can achieve a meditative practice. By inserting the X, students must pay attention to the changing situation. It forces them to be present. So, let’s get to it!
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 accurately learn these techniques.
The ranging footwork drill is a blending of reverse triangle, side step, and forward triangle, and the X is the same pattern with the side step removed.
When working this variation, I start with the ranging drill. It is the base drill from which the changes should be made. Since the ranging pattern loops back on itself, the continual motion makes it easy for students to reset. Make sure that a few rounds go by before modifying the drill. It’s important to establish a pattern before introducing changes. What we’re trying to learn with this variation is how to adapt to a broken pattern.
At random intervals, call out the X pattern. This whole variation goes from an 18 count stepping pattern to a four count stepping pattern. I typically advocate maintaining the same direction of movement to start with. For example, if the students start moving forward in the ranging drill, the reverse triangle portion of the X drill should be the first movement. This will seem awkward at first. That’s entirely okay. It still occasionally feels awkward to me because I’m not perfect. It’s important however to keep working these skills.
When done with the X pattern, flow right back into the ranging footwork drill. Maintaining the flow is important. When the students have flowed along the ranging pattern a couple of times, it’s time to go back to the X pattern. I recommend varying the number of ranging drill repetitions between each X pattern. This will keep us on our toes. By interrupting the complex footwork pattern with a simpler one, we are learning to adjust to tempo changes. Fights have a rhythm and pace that are unique to each and every encounter. Adjusting to those changes is essential to becoming a martial artist. This simple variation is one way of helping students adapt to the unexpected.