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Sweet Science: Footwork

By Liz Drew | Columnist for Knuckle Junkies

A boxer is only as good as his feet. All fighters should start out with solid basics, then as they make the technique theirs, they will inherently develop their own style and variations.

1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Move your lead leg forward to 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock if southpaw.
3. Bend your knees and hips slightly so that you're springy.
4. Lift your heels slightly so you're on the balls of your feet.
5. Weight should be evenly distributed between your legs.
6. Rotate your lead shoulder forward to create a greater angle, minimize the target area of your body and move your jab hand closer to your target.
7. When looking in a mirror, you should always be able to see a 'triangle' between your legs.

If your stance is correct you should be able to:
*Move all 4 directions with equal ease
*Throw any punch
*Suat all the way down.

Common faults:
1. Standing too square - reduces reach in lead punch, reduces power in rear punch, limits speed of movement, gives opponent a big target
2. Standing too linear - loss of balance, limits rotation of hips which reduces power, takes away ease of movement and ability to slip under punches without bending at the waist.
3. Being flat footed - Takes away ability to pivot and snap punch, slows footwork, causing fighter to either back up or take punishment.

Basic Footwork Rules:
1. Always move the foot first in the direction you're going.
2. Never cross your feet.
3. Always keep your feet the same distance apart - when you move one, move the other.
4. Don't stand straight up.

Bump Step - can be done forward, backward and laterally
This is the fastest way to move without ever losing your stance so that you can always throw with either hand. When done moving in the direction of the target, it greatly increases power (momentum - see last article)

Reasons to use this step: You can cover more ground, create an angle so you're not in the same place your punch originated, avoid punches, and you can set up your own counter.

Shuffle Step - lateral movement only
This step is slower by still very important, especially when fighting on the outside or taking a break 'on your bicycle' if you've been hurt.
It momentarily brings the feet closer together, but then puts you back in your correct stance.

Reason to use this step: It allows a greater 'loading' of one leg for a punch. For instance - I shuffle step to the right, land with my right hip loaded and throw a big right hand from a safe angle.

In my next column we will discuss pivoting, rolling, diamond pattern footwork, and passive defense.

Liz Drew is the head boxing coach at Sauer MMA University in Troy, MO. She has had 22 professional boxing matches, and has studied Shaolin Kung Fu and Sanshou. She is also one of the regions only female MMA trainers.

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