Float like a butterfly… and don’t trip over your feet!

Footwork is an art, in my eyes at least. My problem has always been not moving enough. I just sort of stand there. Part of my problem now is almost a fear of moving after how I tore my ACL.

Sir Caius and I were fighting and I stepped to the left to dodge a blow and I stepped on some sort of rock or piece of wood and my leg folded sideways. There was a loud CRACK! and I fell right to the ground.

So I’ve been thinking maybe I should look up some boxing videos/websites and learn some foot drills. It seems movement is a very integral part of the whole fighter dance. But I’ve always wondered who should move first?

When you face off with someone, should you be the aggressor and move forward or do you save your energy and wait for him to come to you. Some guys will just wait and stare (or worse like Sir Tiernan) have that smile which can be really unnerving! So out of being flustered I just go for it and more times than not I expend a lot of energy.

Part of ‘that’ could be because I hold my breath too much. But what I am noticing by watching the YouTube fight videos is the Knights seem to have a lot of really good footwork.

If you are reading this, do you have any footwork suggestions? Drills I can use with my pell?

I remember the scene in Million Dollar Baby where Clint Eastwood was working with Hilary on the foot work and she was doing that while she was doing her waitress work, while she was sitting in a chair etc. I think that’s got to be as much about muscle memory as your sword work.

Any thoughts welcomed.


About Livia Tasia

I love horses, fantasy, writing, the SCA, swordfighting, Mercedes Lackey.

Posted on February 20, 2011, in Heavy Fighting, SCA and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Something that Sir Casca of Atenveldt suggested I do to help with the planted foot problem is to always move. He suggested that I circle my opponent to their shield side when I’m not stepping otherwise for a shot. This does a few things. First and foremost it makes you move, secondly it makes them move in response which at least to a small extent keeps them from moving how they otherwise would, and thirdly, keeps you in a position where your opponent’s shield is providing some protection for you. Something that you might try to help with holding your breath is chewing gum. It helped me but I had to work at it. At first, as soon as I engaged, I would tuck them gum between my lip and gum and continue holding my breath. I had to actively concentrate on chewing while engaged until it became habit. For both of these issues, concentrating on moving, or breathing, could likely cause a reduction in prowess temporarily because you aren’t concentrating on the fighting, but in the long run will be a net gain.

  2. I agree with Ingvarr’s suggestion (or Sir Casca’s via Ingvarr, I suppose): practice continual movement. There are so many advantages to this, from forcing your opponent to continually update their targeting and defensive positioning to how it will open up angles of attack for you in a fluid and (when you get good at it) predictable manner. Precise and _ongoing_ footwork is as much a part of a good combination attack as any fake or actual blow. Keep moving, and you’ll not only avoid being an easier-to-hit static target, you’ll also find it easier to avoid thinking of a fight as a series of static snapshots, but more as the “movie” it more resembles.

    A footwork-related drill I’d suggest with your pell work is to practice circling attacks, throwing combinations of shots as you circle both clockwise and counterclockwise around the pell. This will accomplish several things. You’ll get your basic circling footwork down, you’ll determine how you have to alter your body mechanics to deliver a sound blow while in motion (so very different from how it works when you standing still!), and if you do it with your shield, you’ll get more practice in isolating the shield so it stays in front of you no matter what the rest of your body is doing.

    A suggestion for getting past the very justifiable fear of an injury: make sure you’re placing your feet correctly. Don’t hop. Roll onto the ball of your feet from your heel when advancing. The opposite when giving ground. Lateral movements can include some of this rolling movement, too. You can incorporate this into the above pell work, but I might suggest doing a bit of the basics by themselves. Advances and retreats, passing steps, etc., all with careful, rolling foot placement…over and over until you’re bored silly. But getting just the right sort of footfall is the first step towards really _correct_ footwork, and towards reducing the risk of injury.

    I could babble on forever about footwork – it’s pretty much the basis of what I do as a fighter, even the old, slow one I’ve become – but hopefully the above will be of some use. I hope to see you at a practice or event some time (I’m Three Mountaneer, too…).

    DK Anderson (Earl Dafydd ap Gwynedd, KSCA)

  3. Thanks for the feedback! You’ve reminded me about another mistake I keep making with my pell work – not moving. And I was doing this last night. Not moving.

    I’ve got to focus on moving or when I get to practices I’m just going to stand there like a tree. I’ll start with what you guys mentioned and work on that in addition to my stance homework from Duke Paul.

    Thank you and I look forward to seeing you at a practice soon!

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