020) Week of January 11, 2009: Footwork

Last week we focused on our posture.  Our posture should remain stable while moving.  Utilizing proper footwork is a critical aspect of any good martial arts.   We can moveforward, backwards, side-to-side, diagonally, and in a circular manner.

Imaizumi Sensei established testing requirements that look for the proper use of the following types of footwork:

Ayumi Ashi-  This is walking with moving one foot in front of the other.  Students know that I spend a lot of time teaching people to change the nature of their walk so that they can walk in a balanced manner.  People typically walk in an unbalanced manner, which significantly limits one’s effectiveness in a fighting situation.  It is important to focus on how to move one leg in front of the other while maintaining a balanced posture.  I emphasize the importance of creatingcentripetal rotation with hip movement, which allows the back leg to move forward while remaining balanced.

Okuri Ashi- This is a sliding step movement.  I emphasize the importance of allowing movement to come from the opposite side of the body in which the directional movement occurs.  This allows the body to move in a balanced manner.  A person holding on to you will also not feel as though the movement is being forced upon him/her, which will not create unnecessary tension and resistance in that person.

Tsugi Ashi-  This is sometimes called the “stealing step.” I have rarely taught this topic because I am still focusing on students developing dynamic, balanced movement with the other two areas before entering into this more dynamic and complicated movement.  This movement style allows a person to move a greater distance that the attacker perceives the person to have moved within.  It is very important to not signal this type of movement by leaning one way or another in preparation for this type of movement.  With a solid foundation in moving byayumi ashi or okuri ashi, students will be able to learn this type of movement without a lot of focus on moving in a balanced manner with good posture.

This week will be an exploration in the types of movements contained within certain techniques.  I will look to build upon last weeks focus so that students can move in a “clean” manner.  That means that movement will be balanced and the attacker will have a hard time accurately gauging and responding to the footwork being utilized in the techniques.

Marc Abrams Sensei

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