Bruce Lee Fancy Footwork
By: Bruce Lee and M. Uyehara
In jeet kune do, mobility is heavily emphasized because to-hand combat is a matter of movements. Your application of an effective technique depends on your footwork. The speed of your footwork leads the way for fast kicks and punches. If you are slow on your feet, you will be slow with your hands and feet.
Jeet Rune do footwork should not only be easy, relaxed and alive, it should also be firm. The traditional, classical horse stance seeks solidity in stillness. This unnecessary, strenuous stance is not functional because it is slow and awkward. when fighting, you have to move in any direction instantly.
Proper footwork contributes to hitting power and your ability to avoid punishment. Good footwork will beat any kick or punch. A moving target is definitely more difficult to hit than a stationary one. The more skillful you are with your footwork, the less you have to use your arms to block or parry kicks and punches. By moving deftly, you can elude almost any blow and prepare your fists and feet to attack.
Besides evading blows, footwork allows you to cover distance
rapidly, escape out of a tight corner and conserve your energy to counter with
more sting in your punch or kick. A heavy slugger with poor footwork will
exhaust himself as he futilely attempts to hit his opponent.
To advance, do not cross or hop. Instead, shuffle your feet. At the outset, you will feel clumsy and slow. As you keep practicing this movement daily, however, you will develop your speed and grace.
To do the forward shuffle, stand in the on-guard position. Slide your front foot forward about a half-step, widening the space between your feet just for a second as you slide your rear foot forward. When your rear foot is moved forward, you should be back at the original position. To advance further, repeat the process.
While doing this, maintain your balance and keep your guard up. You should not be flat-footed; you should glide on the balls of your feet. Learn to move like a tightrope walker.
Keep both of your knees slightly bent and relaxed. Your front foot should be flat, but do not plant it heavily on the floor. It should be light and raised intuitively about V8 of an inch.
Your rear heel should almost always be raised in stillness or in motion. It is raised slightly higher than the front foot, about one-fourth or one-half of an inch.
When your rear heel is raised, it facilitates switching your weight immediately to your other foot when delivering a punch. Your raised back heel allows you to react quickly and act as a spring, giving in to blows from any angle.
Naturally, your heel should drop at the impact of the blow. There is no fast rule that says your heels should be constantly raised or when they should be flat. This depends on several factors. including body position and your reactions.
In the advanced shuffle, you should be light on your feet and your weight should be evenly distributed, except for just a split second when you are advancing your front foot. At that instant, your weight would shift to that foot just a little.
In retreating or moving backward cautiously, reverse your movement. The basis behind the backward shuffle is like the advance.
From the on-guard position, slide or shuffle your rear foot backward about half a step, widening the space between your feet for just a split second as you slide your front foot backward. When the front foot is in place, you should be in the on-guard position and perfectly balanced. Unlike the advance shuffle, your weight should shift slightly to your rear foot for just an instant. To retreat further, continue to repeat the process. Learn to be light on your feet continuously, and keep your rear heel raised.
The forward and backward shuffle must be made with a series of short steps to retain complete balance. This position prepares you to shift your body quickly to any direction and is perfect for attacking or defending.
The quick advance is almost like the forward shuffle.
Begin in the jeet kune do on-guard position and step forward with your front foot about three inches. This seemingly insignificant movement keeps your body aligned and maintains your balance as you move forward. It also allows you to move with both feet evenly supplying the power. Without this short step, your rear foot does most of the work.
As soon as you glide your front foot, quickly slide your back foot up to replace your front foot's previous position. Unless you move your front foot instantly, your rear foot cannot be planted properly because your front foot will be partially in the way.
Just before your rear foot makes contact with your front foot, slide your front foot forward. At this position, if you have not taken another step, you should be back at the on guard position with your feet apart at a natural distance.
The purpose of this drill is to move your body quickly, about eight feet or more, in several steps. Except for the first three-inch step, the series of steps should be made at a normal walking space.
The footwork for the quick retreat or rapid backward movement is similar to the quick advance except you move in the opposite direction.
From the on-guard position, move your front foot back. Your front foot, like during the quick advance, initiates the movement. Your rear foot follows a split-second later. Unless you move your rear foot before your front foot makes contact, your front foot cannot be planted properly.
Unlike the quick advance, you do not have to slide any of your foot. It is just one quick motion, but your body should be in alignment and in balance. If you were to move just once, you should be at the on-guard position. But the purpose of this movement is to move your body four feet or more.
The quick movement and shuffle can only be accomplished by being light on your feet. The best exercise for overcoming the force of inertia to your feet is skipping rope and shadowboxing several minutes. While exercising, you must constantly be conscious of keeping your feet "light as a feather." Eventually, you will be stepping around with natural lightness.
You must move without any strain, gliding on the balls of your feet, bending your knees slightly and keeping your rear heel raised. There should be sensitivity in your footwork.
Quick or relaxed footwork is a matter of proper balance. In your training, as you return to an on-guard position after each phase of maneuvers, shuffle on the balls of your feet with ease and feeling before continuing on your next maneuver. This drill enhances your skill as it simulates actual fighting.
Unless there is a strategic purpose, forward and backward movements should be made with short and quick slides. Lengthy steps or maneuvers that cause your weight to shift from one foot to the other should be eliminated except when delivering a blow. At that moment, your body is imbalanced-restricting your attack or defense effectively. Crossing your feet in motion is a bad habit because it tends to unbalance you and expose your groin area.
The movement should not be a series of hops or jerks. Both feet should be slithering rhythmically just above the surface of the floor like a graceful ballroom dancer. Visually, your movement should not be like a kangaroo hopping across the open plain. Instead, it should be like a stallion galloping with even, rhythmic and graceful strokes.
The forward burst or lunge is the quickest jeet kune do movement. It is also one of the hardest to learn because it depends on good coordination. It is used to attack with a side kick or to counter an attack such as a kick.
The forward burst is one deep lunge. From an on-guard position, step forward about three inches with your front foot, like the quick advance movement. This will align and balance your body.
For faster reactions, use your lead hand as an impetus. By sweeping your lead hand upward, you create momentum. This feeling is similar to what it would be like if someone was jerking you forward suddenly while you were holding onto a rope. This hand sweep also distracts your opponent and throws his timing off.
While sweeping your hand upward, swing your hips forward simultaneously, dragging your rear foot forward. In that split instant, your weight is heavily on your front foot. At this moment, your leg straightens out to thrust your body forward.
Sometimes, on an especially deep, penetrating leap, your rear foot may be ahead of your front foot while you are gliding in the air. You must land on your left foot only, as your right foot is delivering a side kick.
As soon as you have completed your kick, you should quickly place your right foot down and assume the on guard position. That one leap should carry your body at least two wide steps.
In a recent test with the forward burst, it took only 3/4 of a second to travel eight feet. By applying the classical lunge movement or stepping by crossing your feet, it took one and one-half seconds to reach the same distance-twice the time.
The leap should be more horizontal than vertical. It is more like a broad jump than a high jump. You should try for distance by keeping your feet close to the floor. Your knees should always be bent slightly so that the powerful thigh muscles (springy expressiveness) are utilized.
When practicing this footwork in the beginning, don't worry about your hands. Just keep them in the regular jeet kune do position and concentrate on your footwork. Once you are accustomed to the foot movement with proper balance, learn to sweep your hand forward just before each leap.
To develop speed and naturalness in your movement, adopt the following exercise in your daily training.
From an on-guard position, do the forward burst without penetrating too deeply. Sweep your hand upward and leap forward without straining yourself. Quickly place your front foot down without kicking. Continue to do this motion over and over again without stopping. But make sure you keep your balance and fluidity in motion. This exercise is excellent to adapt your body to move with ease, rhythm and grace.
As you become more adaptable to the movement, increase your speed and work toward shortening the distance by more and more execution. Eventually, you can substitute a backfist punch for the sweeping movement of your hand.
The backward thrust is like the quick backward movement except that it carries your body backward quicker and deeper. From an on guard position, push the ball of your front foot to initiate the motion which straightens your front knee and shifts the weight to the rear foot. Then the front foot, without pausing from the initial motion, leaves the floor and crosses your rear foot. Just before it lands, your rear leg, with its knee bent and acting like a spring, should thrust your body with a sudden straightening of its leg. You should land on the ball of your front foot just a second before your rear foot touches the floor. That one quick motion should carry your body backward at least two steps.
The backward burst carries your body just as fast as the forward lunge. In the same test, it took exactly the same time to travel eight feet backward as forward-3/4 of a second. But by comparison, the classical movement covered the same distance in one second flat.
For your daily training, do the backward burst for speed, balance and rhythm instead of deep penetration. Move with lightness of your feet and keep practicing toward shortening the distance.
When jogging, rapidly shuffle your feet and keep jogging.
Or you can do a forward burst while your partner does the backward burst. From an on-guard position, attempt to reach your partner with a light side kick as he tries to keep his distance. Then reverse your positions.
Learn not to hurl yourself recklessly at your partner. Instead, try to narrow the gap of space in a calm and exact manner. Keep drilling faster and faster by lunging 200 to 300 times per day. Acceleration can be increased only by discipline in your workout.
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