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Old 10-30-2007, 12:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How important is Footwork?And how do you develop it?

I just saw film footage of the Ali-Foley fight.And the interviews before and after the fight.
1.It was unbelievable how outclassed Foley was!And the guy was a pro, and a contender.
2.I really think that it was Mohammed Ali's footwork that did it.
That is why I am starting this thread.
a)What kind of feedback can you give me with regard to developing your footwork in general?
b)I am really curious to know anything and everything that you can tell me about Ali's footwork.There seemed to be quite a number of unique and different things about it?
c)Why don't we see more of Ali's kind of footwork in pro bouts today,especially MMA?
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Old 10-30-2007, 08:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferdelance
I just saw film footage of the Ali-Foley fight.And the interviews before and after the fight.
1.It was unbelievable how outclassed Foley was!And the guy was a pro, and a contender.
2.I really think that it was Mohammed Ali's footwork that did it.
That is why I am starting this thread.
a)What kind of feedback can you give me with regard to developing your footwork in general?
b)I am really curious to know anything and everything that you can tell me about Ali's footwork.There seemed to be quite a number of unique and different things about it?
c)Why don't we see more of Ali's kind of footwork in pro bouts today,especially MMA?
This forum rocks!
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You are right; footwork is one of THE MOST important pieces of a fighter's game -- regardless of style. Without footwork, we're all just heavy bags. Footwork helps us evade, but perhaps even more importantly, it allows us to cover distance. Without that, it would be near impossible to land a punch, a shoot, or anything else.

As for developing you own footwork, ask your coach more about that. I'm sure he can come up with some better drills than I could. But the bare essentials for good footwork is a good stance.

Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart, in order to allow a balanced distribution of weight. I like to put 55 - 60 percent of my weight on my lead leg, so that its easier to move forward. Keep your knees bent, and be on the ball of your rear foot.

A good partner drill for developing lateral footwork is to have one person lunge in at the other guy. His intent is to step where the other guy is standing. This represents an attack, when someone is lunging in. It is the defender's job to step off at an angle. He has four options; he could go to either side, or diagonally backward. Going straight back is NOT an option. Right after the exchange, the defender becomes attacker and lunges at his partner.

To modify this drill for practicing retreats, you could add two steps. The attacker lunges twice, in rapid succession. Meanwhile, the defender can either step back ONCE, and then at an angle or to the side. Or, he could move to the side or away at an angle twice. Either way, this is useful since it will get you used to evasive footwork that makes it much harder for your opponent to chase you down.

The reason why you don't see Ali's footwork in MMA is because of the takedown. Strikers cant move as freely when they have to worry about the shoot. Being upright and having a slightly narrower stance benefits speed. However, its harder to sprawl.
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Old 10-30-2007, 08:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart, in order to allow a balanced distribution of weight. I like to put 55 - 60 percent of my weight on my lead leg, so that its easier to move forward. Keep your knees bent, and be on the ball of your rear foot.
Erm, what style are you? Because if you're a thai boxer, then your stance is completely lobsided. I put 60 percent of my weight on my rear leg, and always be on the ball of my lead leg. This way you can block kicks easier, step out of the way of kicks easier, and put more power into your punches and kicks.
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Old 10-30-2007, 11:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obscura1560
Erm, what style are you? Because if you're a thai boxer, then your stance is completely lobsided. I put 60 percent of my weight on my rear leg, and always be on the ball of my lead leg. This way you can block kicks easier, step out of the way of kicks easier, and put more power into your punches and kicks.
I train boxing and Sanda/ SanShou, but I really don't fight like most of them do.

I have my weight on my front leg because I'm usually the type to move forward, or forward at an angle. Although, honestly, I'm pretty mobile when I'm sparring so my weight tends to slightly shift about rather frequently, so its not hard for me to shin check. But honestly, I still like to move in and jam -- hence, my weight is forward and ready to move in that direction.

I would dispute that being on the ball of your lead leg lets you put more power into punches. Shifting your weight is what gives punches power, and neither method seems to lend itself to that much more than the other. But, I'll admit there are little differences.

For instance, when your weight is off of the lead leg, when you shift your weight for a cross you might get a tiny bit more into it. But that's only because you can time the descent with your body's torque. On the flip side, a lead hook is weakened. Since a good amount of your weight is already on your rear leg, there's not much left to shift to get power. In the end, its a bit of a trade, although the differences are miniscule.

But you are definitely right, in the sense that its easier to move away from a blow when weight is on the rear leg.
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Old 10-30-2007, 09:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The reason why you don't see Ali's footwork in MMA is because of the takedown. Strikers cant move as freely when they have to worry about the shoot. Being upright and having a slightly narrower stance benefits speed. However, its harder to sprawl.[/quote]
That is a very interesting observation.I am wondering if you could be more specific:Why does Ali style footwork leave someone vulnerable to a takedown? If I do recall, in the match that Ali had in Japan with I believe it was a judoka,I didn't see the fight or any footage of it, just a still photograph of Ali,obviously taken down on the mat and being subjected to some kind of leglock.
The flip side of the coin:What were the advantages of his unorthodox style? I don't recall anyone before him using that kind of footwork.What lead him to develop it? Do you know?
And thanks for some great feedback.
Sincerely,Ferdelance
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Old 10-30-2007, 10:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferdelance
The reason why you don't see Ali's footwork in MMA is because of the takedown. Strikers cant move as freely when they have to worry about the shoot. Being upright and having a slightly narrower stance benefits speed. However, its harder to sprawl.
That is a very interesting observation.I am wondering if you could be more specific:Why does Ali style footwork leave someone vulnerable to a takedown? If I do recall, in the match that Ali had in Japan with I believe it was a judoka,I didn't see the fight or any footage of it, just a still photograph of Ali,obviously taken down on the mat and being subjected to some kind of leglock.
The flip side of the coin:What were the advantages of his unorthodox style? I don't recall anyone before him using that kind of footwork.What lead him to develop it? Do you know?
And thanks for some great feedback.
Sincerely,Ferdelance[/quote]

The advantage of an unorthodox style is that it confuses people. But you have to balance trickery with effeciency. In this case, there isn't enough efficiency to make it worth the sneakiness.

As for the takedowns... Being too upright and having too narrow a stance (like a boxer, kickboxer) doesn't lend itself to sprawling. If you can't sprawl, you could very well get taken down. There are alternatives to sprawling, but they're not nearly as effective and versatile. Also, he likes to do passing steps (like walking steps). If someone times him on one of those, they could snatch both of his legs while they're crossed. That's an auto-takedown. NOTHING he can do if that happens. Heck, someone could kick his legs right out from under him when that's happening.

See, you have to tailor your fighting style to your sport. Because there is only punching in boxing, you can get away with things that you couldn't in kickboxing or MMA. They're different sports. If you try to fight like a boxer in MMA, you'll either get taken down or KO'd by a kick, knee, or elbow. If you try to fight like an MMAer in a boxing match, you'll either get DQ'd or KO'd for being too open. Different rules = different styles.
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Old 10-31-2007, 04:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kin
That is a very interesting observation.I am wondering if you could be more specific:Why does Ali style footwork leave someone vulnerable to a takedown? If I do recall, in the match that Ali had in Japan with I believe it was a judoka,I didn't see the fight or any footage of it, just a still photograph of Ali,obviously taken down on the mat and being subjected to some kind of leglock.
The flip side of the coin:What were the advantages of his unorthodox style? I don't recall anyone before him using that kind of footwork.What lead him to develop it? Do you know?
And thanks for some great feedback.
Sincerely,Ferdelance
The advantage of an unorthodox style is that it confuses people. But you have to balance trickery with effeciency. In this case, there isn't enough efficiency to make it worth the sneakiness.

As for the takedowns... Being too upright and having too narrow a stance (like a boxer, kickboxer) doesn't lend itself to sprawling. If you can't sprawl, you could very well get taken down. There are alternatives to sprawling, but they're not nearly as effective and versatile. Also, he likes to do passing steps (like walking steps). If someone times him on one of those, they could snatch both of his legs while they're crossed. That's an auto-takedown. NOTHING he can do if that happens. Heck, someone could kick his legs right out from under him when that's happening.

See, you have to tailor your fighting style to your sport. Because there is only punching in boxing, you can get away with things that you couldn't in kickboxing or MMA. They're different sports. If you try to fight like a boxer in MMA, you'll either get taken down or KO'd by a kick, knee, or elbow. If you try to fight like an MMAer in a boxing match, you'll either get DQ'd or KO'd for being too open. Different rules = different styles.[/quote]Excellent and very informative and useful response.
Thank you,
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Old 10-31-2007, 11:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think we're getting to a point that you are addressing both "stance" and "footwork." While being two seperate things, they are related. However, I'll just chime in with my two cents on footwork.

Mark Hatmaker states that footwork is integral to a fighter. In his words he described punches and kicks as being a martial artists weapons, or destructive payloads/warheads in our arsenal. Footwork (the ability to move around, cover distance and whatnot) is the vehicles of transportation used to bring those weapons into their destructive range. Likewise the same means will be used to move you away from your opponent's line of fire and out of harms way.

Bruce Lee was also a huge proponent of developing effective footwork. He was very high on Ali's footwork, and dedicates a great deal of the opening text of the Tao of Jeet Kune Do on footwork alone. I like how Kin put it, footwork is what makes fighters different from heavy bags. No one fights each other standing still if they have a choice about it.

I won't go into the subtleties of Ali's footwork, but I can give you an idea or two how to develope better footwork.

1) Dance. It doesn't have to be anything specific, you can choose between b-boying, ballroom dancing, line dancing, crunking, or any combination thereof. Unlike tight-rope walking, using jump/platform shoes, single-leg squats or overhead squats, dancing will teach you how to maintain a dynamic center of balance, coordination, and will give you a hell of a cardio workout. Rhythm and timing is also engrained into the person in a constantly moving environment. Is it a random co-incidence that many traditional styles of martial arts were trained in the form of dance? You think it's a co-incidence that the most technically sound striker in the UFC (Anderson Silva) also knows how to dance?

2) Shadowboxing. You should do this in two stages. In the first stage, you do simply do shadowboxing rounds without punches. In this you would simply move around utilizing footwork to traverse the ring area and "throwing" punches without the arm extension, while practicing your covers, dipping, leaning, and other defensive movements. Most people shadowbox wrong in the sense that they are too static and they tend to admire themselves too much in the mirror. This is to train your core movements, and get your base (your feet) under you first. Do this for a few rounds then move to the next stage.

The second stage is full blown shadow boxing with the arm (or leg) extension included. By this time, the ballistic feel of utilizing your core and legs for attacking should be finding a home in your muscle memory. Adding the limb extension to the movements will really begin to test your balance, but will simply add on to your base. Remember, you must move while shadowboxing. You have to have a mental opponent in front of you and you move in tandem to that opponent.

3) Jab and move drills. The jab is a weapon that is best used by a moving practitionet. Ali, Robinson, Leonard, and Hearns all knew this and used the jab as their primary weapon in the ring. A lot of footwork drilling can be done with the jab. The key to this is to be light on your feet, and ready to move in a way that allow your base to stay under you. That way your balance isn't compromised, and you can still attack.

Here's a few starter drills:
Jab>Step Back
Jab>Step/Duck In
Jab>Circle Left/Right
Jab>Pivot Left/Right

From there add multiple jabs:
Jab>Jab>Step
Jab>Jab>Circle
Jab>Jab>Pivot
Mixing it up more could look like:
Jab>Step In>Jab>Step Out
Jab>Circle Left>Jab>Step out

Then switch levels of those jabs between head and body:
Jab Head>Jab Body>Step Out
Jab Body>Step Out>Jab Head
Jab Head>Circle>Jab Body>Step Out
Jab Body>Jab Head>Circle

You can even include sprawls and shots:
Jab>Step Out>Shoot
Jab>Jab>Sprawl
Jab Head>Circle>Jab Head>Shoot
Jab Body>Step Out>Jab Head>Sprawl

There are other basic drills you can find with a little research. All go a long way in helping with footwork. Bad foot work will get you killed in a fight against someone who is trained. I remember the Final to the Ultimate Ultimate UFC in 96 where Don Frye fought Tank Abbott. Well, for the first minute of the fight Tank is just blasting Frye with a bunch of punches (Don's face looked like hamburger at the end of the fight) and was sure to win until he tripped over his own two feet while Don pressured him. After Tank went down, Don climbed his back and sunk in a Rear Naked Choke and solicited the tap at one minute and 22 seconds into the first round. I've heard a few of my friends say that the end of the fight was bullshit, and that "If it was a real fight out in the streets, Tank would have killed Don." My only reply to that was, "If it was a real fight, Don wouldn't let go of the choke until Tank was unconscious. He could do anything to him he wanted to after that."

All because Tank tripped over his own foot.

I'll leave you with some vids to contemplate:
The "Drunkin' Master" Emmanuel Augustus
Willie "Will O' the Wisp" Pep vs Armand Savoie Notice the footwork off the jab?
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Old 06-17-2011, 02:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Footwork

Muhammad Ali's style and methods were not unorthodox. They were fine tuned and almost flawless. Ali was ge greatest. I dint think there's will ever b anybody like him BUT.....

Look at manny pacquiao's foot work. A lot more subtle because of the footwork he is using. Think about it....where is he from?? What ethinicity is he?? FILIPINO!!

The footwork he is using is a male triangle. I would explain it but you can look it up itself .....But it shows you how the techniques of Filipino Martial Arts can propel you above the competition
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