Filipino martial arts love the triangle. It defines the footwork; it’s used in striking, in targeting, in balance. It’s everywhere, and so far on Footwork Friday, we’ve looked at the triangle with the base in front and behind you. If you combine reverse and forward triangle, they make an hour glass shape with you standing in the middle. This begs the question what if the base is off to one side? How does this change the footwork? Today, we look at a simple answer. Welcome to the step through.
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.
If you’ve been following along so far, Footwork Friday has only covered linear, forward-backward patterns with a drag step shuffle and step drag. Shuffles are great footwork to have in your arsenal. Where shuffles involve both feet moving, the step through moves just one. The lead foot doesn’t change during the shuffle movement, and strategically there are times when a change of lead is necessary. So the step through fills that need.
Following the above example, start in a left lead. Drag your right leg along the imaginary base of the triangle straight up until you’re in a comfortable right lead stance. Congratulations, you’ve just stepped through. Reverse those instructions to go backwards. This can and should be done left or right lead. Even though you are using a triangle for visualization, this is still linear footwork because the motion is a straight line in the direction you wish to move.
If you do this step switching between left and right, as my friend Mike pointed out, you look like a cowboy from an old Western walking along because you are shifting which shoulder is in front. To be most effective, this footwork is often paired with other patterns. While you can walk someone down using the step through, I don’t recommend it. This footwork should be worked as a standalone pattern, but as you begin to feel comfortable with it, combine it with the other patterns that we’ve discussed in the past. Use it to set up reverse triangle. Tag it on the end of forward triangle to put more distance between you and your opponent. Put it before the side step to get a deceptive, defensive angle.
Because it’s such a fast movement, step through is a good distance management pattern. I find that I most often call this out when students are working together and the range is opening up between the two. Step through is a quick way to close that distance. Since I’m a clinch fighter, I prefer close quarters, but this movement is just as important for long range practitioners. As with all footwork, it’s important to attempt this pattern during sparring. Finding where it’s awkward and where it’s not is an important part of learning who you are as a martial artist. Keep moving, and start stepping through.