CTS / Footwork Friday

Footwork Friday: Open Diamond

Footwork Friday is back. As the blog output ramps up again, I plan to restart this series. While the posting schedule may not be every Friday, it will continue. To welcome the series back, today, we’re covering the open diamond footwork pattern. The open diamond is an intermediate pattern that teaches direction changes and movement in both directions all while angling. To be clear, the open diamond is a self contained pattern that has no end, and today, we look at the basics of the open diamond footwork.

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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 open diamond footwork is a combination of the forward and reverse triangle. Combine the bases of the two triangles to form the open diamond. The gif below shows how to combine the triangles. The labels are too small, but the top triangle is the forward, and the bottom is the reverse.


This is called open diamond because your feet remain along the border of the pattern. There is no crossing in the middle at this phase of learning. Watch Joe’s feet in the video below. Start at the rear point, step on the reverse triangle. Then, drag your rear foot along the open diamond border to the forward point. If you’ve done classical martial arts, the second step is similar to the crescent step. Then walk the forward triangle and do a crescent steps backwards. Finish with the reverse triangle pattern.

Below, Joe is speeding up a bit and changing directions in the pattern. Note that in the first level of this footwork, Joe doesn’t change directions. He continues to face one way, and a few simple modifications can be made to switch. As with all footwork, you should vary the length of your strides and the speed at which you step. You can even vary these attributes in the same circuit around the diamond, which will change the shape. To ensure that you’re going around the circuit, you can put a heavy bag in the center of the diamond and step around the bag.

Once the student can walk the first phase of the pattern in a controlled, fluid manner, I add in striking with sticks. I normally start with the CTS angle 1 and 2, which are just downward diagonals. One strike per step, and since this timing of the strike is a basic, I make sure the student is rooted to the ground before striking. This isn’t the only way to strike, but it’s an important basic to learn. This pattern should also be done with all weapons; I like shadow boxing with empty hands in the open diamond. It’s an excellent way to feel how the lower body and upper body move together. If I try a strike while moving against it, I feel the mistake. The strike loses power, or my footwork stumbles. I love this pattern, and it has become a staple of my personal training. It can be modified in a number of ways to keep the footwork interesting while continuing to explore how your body moves.


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