One of the beautiful things about Filipino martial arts is the variety, and lucky us that we live in a time where YouTube displays the diversity of FMAs. During lunch break at work, I love viewing other martial arts videos. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching some dance-like flows that are also entertaining. Guro Jay Jasper Pugao of Visayan Corto Kadena Largo Mano Eskrima has put up some wonderful footwork videos. Today, I want to pull two lessons from the video that I can apply to my own training.
Disclaimer: Footwork as I’ve learned it is from Counterpoint Tactical System as taught by 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.
Guro Pugao’s dance like movements are very fluid and almost hypnotic. In the video bleow, flow is an applicable title, and you can tell that it’s not choreographed even though they are working together. These are beautiful videos to watch, and their approach to footwork is different than mine even though the patterns are similar. The reason that we call them the martial ARTS is because as we progress we each express ourselves in a way that is uniquely our own. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from people who are expressing themselves differently. Please, watch the video before we get to our lessons.
Good stuff, right? The first thing that I noticed is how they manage separation. Both gentlemen are trying to maintain the same distance from each other. When one moves backwards, the other pressures in. When one pressures in, the other moves backwards. While they don’t stay at the same length apart the entire time, they continually return to their preferred distance. Each man flows in and out as necessary to achieve their objective. Often footwork is taught as a means to get to where you want to go, but the lesson we learn from this video is that footwork also is a method of maintaining the distance that is best for us. In this video, I see two artists working on their spatial reasoning to deliver low line kicks. In order to effectively deliver the kick, they are moving in such a way that they do not get too far or too close to negate their offense. This wave in/wave out motion is difficult and must be practiced. With work, hopefully, we can achieve results similar to this video.
In the screen shot above, where are their hands? Both guys have locked their hands to their waist. Why? I think it’s because they are focusing on footwork and kicking. Later in the video, they start to add in their hands; so, clearly, the hands on the waist has a purpose. For me, this is an example of isolation training. By keeping the hands out of the mix, both men can give 100% of their attention to the footwork and distance. This is great for beginners, especially with complex footwork displayed in the video. Instead of trying to overload the students, spotlight the attribute you’re working on, and then add in the hands as skill increases. Because, again, they are maintaining their spatial separation, but they’ve increased the complexity by adding in the high line as well as the low line. Great stuff here. Progression demonstrated inside one video.
To recap, footwork is a method of maintaining distance, and isolation is an important part of progression. There is much more to be learned from this video, but let’s focus on these two for now. While working on our own footwork, we can apply these two concepts to the patterns in our art. Make a game out of trying to keep the same distance from each other while flowing through your footwork. Isolate your footwork flow until you’re comfortable enough to add in the high line. As your skills increase, you can start flowing like Guro Pugao.
Please visit Jay Jasper Pugao’s YouTube page to see more of this beautiful footwork.