CTS / Footwork Friday

Footwork Friday: Takeoff

The first rule of self-defense is to run. The second rule of self-defense is to always preach the first rule. The third rule of self-defense is to bastardize as many Fight Club references as possible. When talking about self-defense, I always make the time to say that escape is the first and best option. Fighting is for when escape isn’t possible, and it should be used to create the opportunity to run. In Counterpoint Tactical System, we use a pattern called takeoff that helps transition into a run. Yes, it has many more uses than to just run. But I introduce it exactly like the first time that I learned it. Do the footwork and jog a few steps afterwards. When you see the opportunity to escape, it’s time to takeoff.

Footwork Friday Logo

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.


When I first learned this technique from Master Whitson, he had a group working the footwork up and down the mat at a seminar. We’d line up, do the takeoff, and run a few steps down the mat. Then, we’d reset and do it again in the other direction. The takeoff step introduces a little more force into reverse triangle. This step is fun to practice in class because the run at the end reinforces our first rule of self-defense. Give yourself a little space when practicing this footwork to get the full experience of it.

Basic Reverse Triangle

Step one for this is to review the reverse triangle and walk that pattern. Now, when you decide to take off, drag the forward foot back. Then, plant your foot so that the heel is down on the ground. Push off in the direction of the other leg of the triangle. Drive your force through the heel of your foot. Run in that direction. That’s the takeoff.

Listen, I have a confession to make. It took me a long time to like the takeoff. When it would come up during class, a seminar, or a test, it frustrated me. But I trusted my instructor and kept working on it. Then during the pekiti largo sparring with Alex McGuinness of Atlanta Martial Arts Club, it clicked. I’d like to say that all my footwork training paid off, but that’d be re-writing history. My footwork against Alex needed improvement.

As soon as I got home, I went to work. While I knew that the takeoff needed heaps and gobs of improvement, I started with the fundamentals first. Build up to the takeoff by polishing your fundamental footwork first. Is it an absolute rule? No, of course, not, but having sound fundamentals gives you a better starting point for this variation.


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