Using the feet properly, or at least getting to the stage I’m at has been a long and winding road. I’ve already described the amazing potential the feet have and how getting a feel for whats happening in the foot can assist in stablity, or being rooted/grounded. Obviously, the drawback of being too stable is a lack of mobility, a wall built with foundations is very stable but has minimal mobility, obviously fine for a wall except in extreme situations, earthquake/hurricane perhaps.
For humans wanting to be able to avoid incoming attacks stability has it’s role but good mobility is essential to avoid attacks and to set up your own. The answer is to be ‘on your toes’ rather than ‘on your heels’, the first supports movement while the second hampers movement. That’s not to say that you cannot move if you have your weight on your heels, of course you can, but it takes a preparatory movement to do so. I tell the kids in my class that its the difference between waiting for the bus and actually getting on the bus.
It’s fine standing on your heels waiting for the bus but when you get on you need to move forward and your posture must support that movement. If you need to hurry to get on the bus, if it’s about to leave you really need to move from the front of your foot, i.e. be ‘on your toes’.
Nothing to spectacular in any of this but it’s amazing how many people in martial arts are rather flat-footed. It’s not universal, of course, but if you practice the hateful sanbon kumite and the like you’re training yourself to ‘move in stance’ and to not use your feet effectively. It’s like trying to move with an anchor pulling you back!
Elsewhere movement is optimised. At Primal, Steve Morris got us to repeat kick like they do in Muay Thai which trains the feet to move rapidly. The little ‘skip’ is key which serves to not only ‘charge’ the kick but also to adjust position in relation to the target. For me this had the wonderful spin-off of helping my foot movement in general, this became evident in the movement drills Morris introduced. These involved chasing each other around, meaning you have to move quickly to avoid the other bloke while staying close. It’s not a case of running away, rather adjusting position.
This training coupled with watching and getting an impression of Manny Pacquiao really helped me get to grips with moving my feet so they could make tiny adjustments for whatever reason, i.e. throwing kicks/punches, pushing off to move away. That is not all you can glean from watching such an excellent fighter as Pacquiao, it’s merely one aspect, albeit a vital one.
By concentrating training on optimising the potential of the feet anyone can learn to greatly improve their movement. But even you you become more ‘getting on the bus’ than ‘waiting for the bus’ you will notice an improvement.