CTS / Footwork Friday / Martial Arts

Footwork Friday: Move Up the Circle

It’s Footwork Friday again! After a small hitch last week, we’re back. So far we’ve walked on angles; we’ve stepped to the side; we’ve shuffled; and we’ve ranged. To this point, our footwork – whether angular, to the side, forward, or backwards – is moving along a line. Why not add a little variety? Spice up your footwork with a little circular movement. Try “Move Up the Circle!”


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.

Footwork Friday Logo

Filipino martial arts (FMA) footwork can be visualized as an asterisk on the ground. The student stands in the middle of the pattern, and the legs of the asterisk represent the different directions of movement. In past Footwork Friday entries, we moved along one of those lines. Sometimes, adjustments are necessary without transferring along a line. An easy way to do this is make a circular movement along the outside of the asterisk.

FMA Footwork Pattern

Imagine that your left foot is at the center of the asterisk and that it is nailed to the floor. It can spin around but it can’t leave that spot. Next, take a small step backwards with your rear foot. Turn your hips and front foot back into a normal stance. Ta da! You’ve just moved up the circle.

Move Up the Circle

While you can make large turns with this step, I recommend small movements. Think of this as an adjustment step. If you imagine a thrust along the “shuffle” line, moving up the circle is a small adjustment to get offline of the strike. This is how footwork can work in conjunction with your hand defenses to keep you safe. For example, moving up the circle gets you offline of a knife thrust with a minor movement. This little bit creates space to counter. The additional space gives your hands more time to do their work. In the video below, Mike, Steve, and Joe show the small adjustments but move 360 degrees around the whole circle.


Here’s a close up of their footwork.


One of the more interesting parts of move up the circle is how it changes range. Note that Mike’s hand is fully outstretched to Joe’s forehead. By moving up the circle, Mike has to readjust his fingers up Joe’s forehead because Mike suddenly has more reach. He hasn’t moved any closer to Joe, but through the magic of geometry, his reach is greater than that of Joe’s!

How moving up the circle affects range!

A post shared by STL Counterpoint (@stlcounterpoint) on


Moving up the circle is a pattern that chains well with the linear movements. They compliment each other, and we will cover some combinations in the future. But for now, add a little circular spice to your linear footwork.


2 thoughts on “Footwork Friday: Move Up the Circle

  1. Pingback: Footwork Friday: Combining Move Up the Circle | St. Louis Counterpoint Tactical Systems

  2. Pingback: Footwork Friday: Training Clusters | St. Louis Counterpoint Tactical Systems

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