Finding the Stillness in Movement

footworkA few weeks ago, I was teaching a class in which I had students working on their boxing punches while moving forward and backward in a chasing/retreating drill.

In self-defense or live training exercises like sparring, it is rare that you would get to hit a completely static target unless you managed to stun or distract the person first. That’s why it’s important to practice target tracking and this drill covers one particular aspect of it. It allows you to practice striking while your target is moving backward or while you yourself are backing away for whatever reason.

Manufacturing Stillness

While this chasing/retreating drill sounds simple enough, it can be tricky for people with less experience who are only used to doing their strikes from a static position. A few pairs of students who were working together coped by changing the desired movement of the drill to manufacture the static position from which they were used to striking. Essentially the person holding the pads would take a step or two then stop while their partner did a couple of punches then they would take a couple more steps then stop for the next couple of punches. But this wasn’t the point of the drill.

Find the Stillness in the Movement

I stopped the class momentarily to correct the situation. “The partner should keep moving. It doesn’t have to be fast, but it should be constant. An attacker is not going to stop their movement just so you can hit them.”

“But it’s hard to strike well while you’re feet are stepping,” one student pointed out.

I nodded. “Yes, that’s because you need to learn to find the stillness in the movement.”

It sounds contradictory, but it isn’t when you break it down. Even though you’re constantly stepping there are fleeting pauses as you take each step. The trick is to time the impact of your strike with that pause, which occurs just as your step touches down. This allows you to use your legs and hips more effectively to put more power into your strikes. When you get used to this, you’ll find that the movement can even serve to add more power to your strikes.

Now over to you. Do you use any drills that allow you to practice strikes with movement? If so, please share them in the comments. 🙂

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