There are two basic modes of travel. Walking (ayumi ashi) where one foot passes the other. Walking is, you know, walking:
The other method of locomotion is shuffling, where the feet do not pass each other.
|Tsugi ashi or step + drag||Step with the leg into
the direction of travel
|Shift weight slightly and
drag the other foot
|Ready for another.|
|Okuri ashi or drag + step||Drag rear leg into the
direction of travel
|Step with the lead leg|
As a comment, the two standard sweeps of de ashi barai and okuri ashi barai are intended to counter someone who is shuffling in resp. tsugi ashi or okuri ashi. Other sweeps are intended for intercepting someone who is walking, pivoting, etc. Sweeps are to be used in motion, never statically. An easy way to do this is to practice your footwork drills while your partner sweeps you. You get to move naturally as does he.
Another fundamental movement is pivoting,
which is walking with a change in the axis of the hips. This is often
subsumed under the classical
heading of kaiten (literally 'circle' since you move along an
arc), although this is not quite correct. There are two version of it
and they are very different. The
first, called twisting has the feet not moving. You rise onto
the balls of your feet and twist your
hips so your hara (center of gravity, about where your belt
knot is) points into
another direction. Key point is that
your feet stay on the ground. You then regain your root. The
other version, called
pivoting actually moves one leg
while keeping the other as the center of rotation. in which one foot,
the pivot foot, remains
in location and the other foot, the sweeping foot, moves to a
new location. The pivot foot
is the center of rotation and the heel of that foot comes off slightly
the floor, so that the pivot is on the
ball of the foot. This prevents the knee from suffering torsion, since
the pivot actually occurs at the hip -- if you stay flat-footed your
knee will undergo torque. You
may move the sweeping foot
to the front or rear, called a front or rear pivot, resp. Key for pivot is that is a type of walking
with a change in hip angle, i.e., you are one-legged during a pivot and
a biped during a twist!!! Pivots are excellent for quick
movements offline (again speed cancels root), but don't expect to get
much power. Stylistically we usually prefer to replace a pivot by a
step + twist or twist+step if we need power.
Now we won't be confusing just like everyone
else. Most folks lump twists and pivots together.
People don't make as big a distinction as they should, but we will try
to. If you cannot separate these, you will find that many techniques
simply lose all power mysteriously in the middle of their execution
because you pivot where you should twist.
Pivots may occur up to and including a full 360 degrees. twists can go also go to a maximum of 360 degrees if you start in a kosa dachi and end in one. The 180 degree twist is especially useful. You pivot or twist when you need to change orientation or look around. You should practice scanning (looking around, without a body twist) at the very least with every pivot, and you should actually look, don't just wag your head. This is again aimed at assessing multiple attackers and the area. In such cases remember that you are looking for the biggest threat and that might not be the person closest to you.
All footwork drills should start by having your hands covering your center line and doing the appropriate palm changes so that the side that leads has that hand forward. It is crucial that after you get comfortable moving, you then run through your footwork drills using various hand techniques (escapes, te kagami, etc., etc.) so that you get used to having your upper and lower body independent. Your feet eventually should being doing whatever they have to all by themselves. You want to smarten your periphery.
In application, you will never use more than a couple or three steps of one of these drills, since setting up a pattern gives your attacker all he needs to know to find you. The objective of drills is, of course, to give you the ability to do these smoothly and therefore switch seamlessly between them. Once you have these down, practice combinations, alternating footwork drills every few steps.
Always practice scanning the area in your drills. That is to say, look around and try to be aware. You have to incorporate this so it is completely automatic. The footwork is made to keep you in motion so that multiple attackers can't hem you in. It is easy, either from solo practice or lots of practice with a single partner, to forget this fact. The old boxer's saying that "It's the one you never see that puts you away" is accurate. All the evasive footwork in the world won't help you if you don't observe your environment.
Practice altering the step size and rhythm. These should be practiced as lunges too and mix it up. You can never have enough controlled chaos in training. You should also consider practicing these plyometrically, that is to say, if you lunge, then at the instance your leg is loaded with your weight, explosively reverse direction. This will build enormous speed and power.
Another great drill by yourself is to do ukemi as part of this. That is to say, select a footwork drill and at some point, have a roll, side fall, etc. whatever you like. This gets you used to moving and falling while in motion. Believe me, every time I've had to roll, it was because I was out of control (bike accident, tripping and such). Being able to roll-out while in motion should be taught in public schools as a matter of safety. This is a rolling drill, rather than a footwork drill, but this is a proper place to include it.
You can also have partners hold up sticks (jo, bokken, baseball bat or whatever) at shoulder height and practice your footwork moving around them. Alternately, your partner can spruce this up by trying to tag you, either with hands, feet or other household items as you move to retain position. Be sure the partner does them high, medium and low. This is good bobbing and weaving practice. Start out just with lazy swats since there will be a lot going on. Eventually, these will metamorphize into strikes, grabs and kicks.
Other partner drills with all of these can easily be done. One person lead and the other mirror the movements, maintaining constant distance. This can be done not merely with the partners facing each other, but maintaining an angle (so the follower, for instance, wants to stay on a given 45 degree line to the leader at all times). Boxer's use what they call the "triangle theory" of movement: You and your opponent always form vertices of an equilateral triangle. If the opponent moves, then you are to move to the appropriate new vertex. This makes a nice drill too, with the leader moving as desired and the follower maintaining the triangle. The leader or follower can also add tags using hands and feet to make the other bob and weave while in motion. Start slowly, since the leader has and advantage, but eventually this can be quite fast too.
Playing tag is an excellent addition. That is to say, as you shadow or evade he should try to grab or swat you initially and eventually ramp it up to strikes. The bad guy should try to telegraph so that you will get practice at reading the body. People who do not have years of training telegraph badly and not being able to pick up on it while in motion might mean you walk into a full power strike. That would probably end the altercation right there and not in your favor, I should stress...
Walking the circle. Click here for a movie.
(This movie shows walking the circle with palm changes and a few S
turns through the middle of
This actually comes from a groovy Chinese martial art called ba gua
p'a k'ua by some). Ba gua is famous for its fluid and
and this is their core drill. The system makes a good complement to jujutsu
and one of my first teachers was very good at it. You should walk, that
is to say, stride
as you normally do down the street (heel-toe walking). To move at an
angle, point your toes in the
direction you want to go. The eight directions move from the center of
the circle, while this drill gets you to move on the perimeter. If you
do both types of drills, you should have pretty much
all possibilities covered.
Walking the circle is a deceptively simple drill that has an
enormous payback, so
you should practice this one a lot. I do it most days of the week for
at least a bit. Mark off
a circle who radius is your height. Walk along the perimeter for
several minutes, being sure
that you are in balance. You may switch direction by simply pivoting
180 degrees. Practice these
pivots. Moving in a straight line with root is never a problem with a
little practice, but as soon as
some curvature enters the picture, people lose root. A circle has
constant curvature and therefore
this simple drill lets you practice rooting along a curved path. You
can even do pushing exercises
with a partner as well if you get so inspired.
A very good and simple variation of this is to walk half the circle then cut an S-shaped path through the middle (ok, ba gua started out as a bunch of Taoist monks walking in a circle for meditation and this really is tracing a yin-yang symbol on the ground). The movie above shows this. If you started walking, say, clockwise initially, this move will have you walking counter-clockwise from your starting point. When you get back to the point on the circle opposite from the start, repeat cutting through the middle of the circle and you will be at your point of origin with the original orientation. This does several things. It
On the circle You can also practice shuffling along the perimeter of a circle, just like walking the circle. Be sure to face into the circle and to the outside rather than just facing in the direction of travel. This gets you to practice shuffling laterally along a curve, for those cases where you can't afford to take your eyes off of something.
8 direction drill. Pivot into each direction, You do this in any of the following ways (practice them all).
For turning practice, step into a direction and turning 180 degrees to face your starting point, Reverse the motion.
The line drill.This actually works both twists and pivots. This is lateral, so that if you were using it, your opponent would be at 3 or 9 o'clock. Face your opponent by looking over your shoulder, say starting at 9 o'clock. Pivot three times 180 degrees to look at 3 o'clock and back again. The three pivots now have you facing to 3 o'clock. Shuffle away a couple of steps on the line and now perform 3 inside pivots, shuffle away a couple of steps and perform three outside pivots. You are now back at the starting point.
|The first pass through the triangle drill.|
Triangle drill. Click here for a movie. Mark out an equialteral triangle. Step at the vertices. In the pictures, I've put weights on the floor to show where the triangle vertices are. Be sure to bring your feet together on the movement. After each pivot, do a quick turn to scan the area. You can also just do this as a speed drill omitting the turns to see how fast you can pivot. Remember that while this is loads of fun, you are leaving out the important component of scanning to just optimize your speed.
|The second pass through the triangle drill.|
Pivots and twists on the circle. This is another fabulous drill. Twists are quite natural on the circle and pivots are excellent too. For the twists, do them without pausing, so you can literally make a twist as soon as the stepping foot touches the floor. This little trick will greatly improve the fluidity of your twists.
D EA and B are shoulder width apart, as are D and E. C is directly in the middle and the distance from A to D is two shoulder widths (can be a bit more if you like a challenge).
Now, There are several hopping patterns. Choose a few and do each one 5 times. Time yourself and see if you can't best your own time. These are: