Last week I went to spar at a local gym. I watched for a while first then went on to spar with a girl who was about to have her first fight. The first thing I noticed with all of the beginners was their foot work, it was all over the place. They were walking, crossing feet, stepping to wide, bringing their feet together and loosing balance. I can’t stress enough how important foot work is and how bad foot work can really let you down. Having bad foot work takes away your power, ability to move fast, your balance, ability to set up shots and combinations, It also makes you use more energy than you need to, as well as just making you look sloppy and uncoordinated (we don’t want that because MuayThai is supposed to be beautiful). Getting your foot work right is a long process and it can be very confusing and frustrating especially if you have come from another type of martial art that has a different stance, it’s hard to break old habits or if your brain and your body don’t communicate very well like me. Trying to worry about what your feet are doing at the same time as worrying about what you’re throwing or what’s being thrown at you can get a bit too much to take in to start. So even now as an experienced fighter I still practice foot work drills to keep improving and making sure I haven’t picked up any bad habits which I do so drills help to straighten me back out. So what was supposed to me sparring with this girl turned in to a lesson on foot work. I had her practicing a drill that I think really helped me to get my feet in order as I always crossed my feet as a beginner instead of shuffling. Even after about 10-15min working on here foot work she had improved a lot, she proceeded to tell me she had been told she needed to fix her foot work but didn’t really know how to go about it, she was excited now she had a drill to practice. So for all you people out there wanting to improve your foot work these are the things I look at.
Get your stance right, feet apart about shoulder width, you don’t want them to wide. One foot forward (left for orthodox, right for south paw) and one foot back again not to wide you want about a foot & half distance between feet. Dont stand to sideways like a boxer, you want to be facing front on with a slight twist. Come up onto the balls of your feet, not so you’re on your tippy toes but so all your weight is on the balls of your feet and you heal is only lightly touching the ground then slightly bend your knees. Now imagine you have a metal bar in between your feet holding them apart so they can pivot and move but can’t come any closer to one another.
A drill i practice with this is- Find a line on the floor stand over it in your stance and follow it along the floor keeping your feet the exact same distance from it the whole way along. Shuffling along, do not walk and cross your feet. Make sure you dont go flat footed and keep your knees slightly bend. Make sure you move your lead leg first then bring the back leg up to where its suposed to be , not closing the distance any further than where you foot started. Practice going forward along the line then start to move backward doing the same thing except start by moving you back leg first and the your front leg follows. Once you get moving up and back a few times add in moving to each side. Keep your stance and lead with what ever leg is on the side you want to move making sure you keep the distance between your feet and dont cross over. Crossing over your feet during sparring or a fight will make you more likey to trip or fall when you are punched or kicked by your opponent as your balance is not sturdy, you dont want that to happen as it makes you look like the weaker opponent which then scores them more points. One you get the basic idea of this drill and you want to add some more things to it, i always add in some punches or some angles. So i will shuffle then throw one two combo then shuffle then again throw one two. Then once you get the hang of that and your feet are doing what they are suposed to you can add some angles. Shuffle throw one two then pivot on your front foot pushing off with the back foot and shuffle again. There is so many things you can add into it just on your own and to many for me to go into on here but its just a basic idea for the people that dont really know where to start. Another thing you can do is use things like kick pads to shuffle around zig zag in and out. I hope you can understand what i mean its hard to write it down im much better at showing people.
Im not perfect with my foot work im no expert but this is what works for me, i still practice these drills when i can and i think even as and experienced fighter they still help me for sure.
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Natasha Sky- Professional Muay Thai Fghter