Lesson 5 – Footwork methods

Basic Kung Fu footwork

The first thing to say is that, once the basic techniques have been thoroughly tested and trained, your body will choose instantly and automatically: how, when, why, what to adopt. If this does not happen, you are very far from being ready for a fight and even for sparring (read The meaning of sparring fighting in martial arts).

The second thing to stress is that there are a lot of footwork methods and in combat terms, the type of spatial movement that you choose depends on 2 factors:

  • The type of context you are facing
  • The type of fighter you are

The type of context

Let’s see some of the most common reasons that force you to change your footwork:

  • The type of terrain
  • The conditions of the terrain
  • The obstacles involved
  • The type of adversaries
  • The number of adversaries (read also Forget everything you know about multiple opponents fighting)
  • The type of contact with the ground (barefoot, with shoes, etc.)
  • The eventual presence of weapons (in your hands or in those of the adversaries)

In addition to this, in the particular case of 6 Dragons Kung Fu:

The type of fighter

Each contextual choice has its reasons but in a lot of cases, what is good for a specific practitioner can be totally wrong for another one.

Let’s see the most common variables related to the fighter:

  • The height
  • The weight
  • The muscle mass
  • The level of balance
  • The speed of the limbs
  • The level of stamina
  • The level of flexibility
  • The elongation of the limbs
  • The body conformation (bones, tendons, etc.)
  • The state of health of the body (injuries, etc.)
  • The technical preferences
  • The tactical preferences

A note by Master Kongling – After a careful practice, you will find your way to move, the one that will allow you to gain more time and space within the fight, from then on you will only have to personalize it and maximize its yield.

The first footwork method and its execution


  • The ones we are going to describe are very basic movement methods that are common to a lot of martial arts, this is our version of them
  • You cannot understand these footwork methods if you have not read the general rules described in Lesson 9.4
  • In 6 Dragons Kung Fu, we train symmetrically both body sides (you can have a preferred one but the level of preparation must be the same)

Let’s see the basic combat footwork:

  • Advancing – From the guard stance (read Lesson 5.2), the advanced foot makes a step forward and as dragged, the foot behind follows it
  • Retreating – From the guard stance, the foot behind makes a step backward and as dragged, the advanced foot follows it
  • Sidestepping to the right (with the left leg forward) – From the guard stance, the foot behind makes a step to the right and as dragged, the advanced foot follows it (with the right leg forward it is the opposite)
  • Sidestepping to the left (with the left leg forward) – From the guard stance, the advanced foot makes a step to the left and as dragged, the foot behind follows it (with the right leg forward it is the opposite)
  • Pivoting – From the guard stance, one foot rotates in the opposite direction we want to rotate and as dragged, the foot behind follows its rotation

A note by Master Kongling – In the next chapters of this course, we will see the advanced footwork techniques: for now this is more than enough (if you cannot do this fast and like breathing, it is totally useless to see more complex moves).

The most common errors to avoid:

  • Never cross the legs (it is dangerous for now, we will see this kind of movements in the next chapters)
  • Always start, move and arrive in a balanced stance
  • Don’t be rigid, let the body relax, be natural, soft
  • Don’t move in spurts, maintain a harmonic flow
  • Don’t lift your feet off the ground more than the minimum necessary to move easily
  • Don’t look at your feet or the direction you want to move

How to train the basic combat footwork

This is the order of development:

  1. Use it to move forward from a point A to a point B (at least 5-10m)
  2. Use it to move forward and backward (A-B-A-B, etc.)
  3. Use it to move laterally to the left and to the right (without changing the side of the guard, A-B-A-B, etc.)
  4. Use it to move circularly (first clockwise and then in the other sense)
  5. Use it to follow and / or escape from a training partner (the first times the partner must move slowly without getting too close)
  6. Repeat all the past steps but with the inverted guard
  7. Repeat all the past steps but halving the distances / spaces of action and increasing the execution speed
  8. Use it in the fundamental practices (hanging speedball, sparring, fabric cloth, etc., read Lesson 3.6)

Each training session should last 5-10 minutes, in a few weeks of gradual and righteous practice, you will master all these basic movements.

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Can you use effectively the pivoting?

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Author: Master Kongling

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