CORE PRINCIPLES by Tommy Thompson and Rocky Sondhi
In martial arts, and in boxing in particular, the role of
feet cannot be underplayed. Without the use of the feet there
is limited movement, if any, and the range of options open
to the fighter is severely restricted. Therefore, it is crucial
that all martial artists and boxer's develop their ability
to move quickly, swiftly and also, unexpectedly.
The boxer's ability to move and hit with power is dependent
on the maintenance of balance, which is developed through
the use of feet. The feet ensure that as the boxer moves,
his ability to hit with optimal efficiency is not compromised.
All footwork movements in all directions need to feel intuitive
to the boxer, and this is best achieved by the development
of short gliding movements, thus ensuring that the feet are
in contact with the floor at all times. At no time should
the boxer be caught with his feet too close or too far apart.
The key to ensuring fluid movement, and thus maximizing hitting
power, is to remember to keep the upper part of the body relaxed.
If tension exists in the upper body this may severely restrict
movement below, as the centre of gravity of the body will
be compromised. The punches may still land, but they will
be less effective.
Role of the front foot
One of the most important, yet neglected, things about stances
is the misunderstanding of the role of the front foot. The
front foot essentially has two roles:
a. Range Finder - if your front foot is
not in distance, i.e. underneath or close to your opponent,
head is out of range, you may possess the best left hook since
Joe Frazier, but
you will never land the punch.
b. Shock Absorber – with the front
knee bent, the front foot also acts as a shock absorber when
allowing a timely response to the attack.
Role of rear leg
There are several roles of the rear leg, with the back heel
off the floor at all times. These are:
a. Power Driver – the rear foot allows
the hitter to transfer his body weight towards the target,
with any shot.
b. Acceleration Enhancer – the rear
foot allows explosion, through the combination of elastic
tendons in the leg.
c. Springback – the rear foot allows
instant reaction to come back at an opponent.
Common difficulties with stances and footwork
Many boxers and fighters share common difficulties where
the movement has to be achieved through stances and the feet.
Some of the more common errors in achieving stances
1. Feet too close together
2. Feet too wide apart
The drawbacks of the feet being too close together
a. Loss of movement in both directions
b. Defensive options become severly restricted
c. Lack of drive off the feet, thus limiting hitting power
The drawbacks of the feet being too far apart, but
still in range are:
a. The right hand has further to travel to the target
b. Defensive options become severely restricted
c. Difficult to move at speed as initial drive and reaction
time are lost
The most common difficulties in footwork are:
a. Moving to the right – though it
is relatively easy to move to the right, moving with speed
and balance is
difficult to achieve due to the fact that this is not a programmed
to the left encourages the closest foot to move first, whereas
moving to the
right is an unnatural response for most people. However, this
is not unique to
boxing, as all sports have similar problems, for example a
footballer who has to
move to the outside.
b. Moving to the rear – similarly,
moving to the back involves the furthest foot moving first,
but the tendency
is for most people to move the nearest foot first, thus unbalancing
c. Crossed feet – this is largely a
problem experienced by the novice.
Drills to improve footwork
The primary purpose of the sidestep is to change direction
quickly in an explosive manner, maintaining balance and posture.
This ensures the opponent is pulled out of position and needs
to readjust his stance, thus providing an opportunity to gain
The sidestep is particularly useful against an opponent who
is fully committed to his attack.
How to sidestep?
1. A slight pullback off your front foot
2. At the same time or possibly before step off with your
rear leg to write, bring your front foot back on guard to
its original position stock movements should be a short balanced
Push the back leg, front foot sliding forward, bring rear
leg up to guard position
Push off the front foot, back leg leading, bring front foot
to the guard position.
Left leg moving to left with the rear leg following up
Right leg leading with left leg following up
Suggested drills to encourage advanced footwork and
1. The use of four marks on the floor has proven invaluable
to encourage small gliding steps and encourage
foot movement prior to punching. (see diagram)
Start at position 1 in traditional stance, boxer glides forward
to position 2, then moves on balance to position 3, and then
explosive push back to position 4, and follows up with a sidestep
back to position 1.
2. Stamping Feet Drill
Boxer A in stance attempts to step on Boxer B feet with his
front foot, for a two minute round. Boxer B needs to move
rapidly to avoid having crushed toes!
Boxer B then attempts the same.
This drill is particularly useful for boxers and martial
artists who lack nimbleness and movement on their feet.
3. Range Finding Circle
Movement is encouraged through the development of understanding
of the ranges of motion.
A represents thinking distance, X represents
Boxer moves around the circle in both directions within thinking
distance, and on command, suddenly moves into striking distance,
and then straight back into thinking distance.