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Old 01-16-2008, 12:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How do you back up?

I saw a really sweet move on a televised fight recently:
The fighter nailed his opponent with a beautiful punch to the face, then he stepped back out of range of his opponent's answering punch, which subsequently missed completely!
This made me realize: I never practice stepping back!
In fact, I don't know the correct way to step back!
Everything is forward, forward,forward!
And yet I also recall the saying,"The smart general is the one who knows how to retreat!"
Knowing how and when to retreat can be as important as how to charge,isn't it?
so my question:What is the correct back to move backwards?
What kinds of things should you keep in mind when moving backwards defensively, and offensively?
Like in all of my TMA so far, we have always punched stepping forwards.
How do you punch stepping backwards?
It should be possible, I would think.
What can you tell me?
Appreciate it,
Ferdelance
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Old 01-16-2008, 01:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm curious to see what people will say about this one. Here's my take on it, nonetheless:

There are several different ways of backing up that I know of. The easiest of which is to simply step back. It's the same as going forward, except you're moving in a different direction. You push off of your lead leg and slide backwards. Simple enough.

Going straight back is... alright. It gets the job done sometimes. for instance, if you close the distance and exchange blows, you should step back the instant that you're done attacking. If not, you'll just be a stationary target until you finally do decide to retreat.

However, continuously backtracking when you're under pressure is never a good idea. Going forward is always faster than going backwards. You can't win a race running backwards, and you can't escape a determined opponent by doing that either. He'll catch up to you, and he'll punish you.

A more effective alternative is to retreat at an angle. Step back at a 45 degree angle, and continue in that direction until you've escaped. Or, you could step straight back once, and then angle off. Either way, the angle is what will save you.

Why? Well, when you move off his line of attack, he can't effectively hit you. He might touch you with his arms, but it won't be a serious threat. But, if your timing is correct, that probably won't even happen.

Isn't that also true about stepping straight back and out of your opponent's reach? Yes and no. Yes, if you step out of reach, you can evade one or two attacks. But if your opponent is determined to catch up to you, he'll be able to cover the distance in no time and continue his assault. If you step backward at an angle, your opponent will have to spend a split second of his time to change the direction of his advance before he can continue his chase. That extra split second is more than enough for you to return to a safe distance.

Long story short, when retreating, angle > straight line.

In terms of punching while you're backing up... It's as simple as throwing your arms out while you're going backwards. However, doing so doesn't allow for much power.

Punching while retreating WITH power is a higher level skill, but it can be done. Rather than just throwing hands while you're backpeddalling, you have to time your shots. Throw them inbetween shuffles, when your feet are grounded, so that you can turn into your punches.

Or if you do Kempo, like Chuck Liddell, you can just throw your arms out there while retreating...and STILL have massive KO power.
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Old 01-16-2008, 07:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Best way to "back up" is actually to step away at an angle as stated above. I kinda covered this in the threads on footwork and the jab. This goes deep down into the basics of footwork (which is almost completely unappreciated by even most "knowledgeable" fans of combat sports in general). I won't go into the details now, but stance, balance, even how you place the weight on your feet play into it and it takes a lifetime in itself to develope.

Now the punching off a back step is really rooted in an innate sense of developed rhythm, and isn't unlike dancing. Ali was notorious for tagging his opponents inside and backing away while stinging them with his jab (same for other great jabbers like Leonard, Hearns and Pep). The effectiveness of it was greatly due to his footwork. Once his rear foot stepped down he would rebound off of it (not unlike doing the swing - if your familiar with that dance) setting his center of mass the opposite direction as his opponent would advance in on the end of his jab. Their incoming momentum added to the amount of force generated at the point of contact making it very effective. The lovely thing about it was that he didn't need to apply any extra "umph" while jabbing, he just needed to do it fast and with intent.

Punching off of a retreat is done generally in the same way, whether it is a cross, hook, uppercut, or (in Chuck's case) an overhand right. Being able to do so takes quite a bit of practice, and a better sense of footwork and rhythm.

If you want particulars, let me know and I'll get into it then.
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Old 01-16-2008, 08:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Ken and Onganju nailed it perfect. Never ever back straight up unless you do it for one step to get the distance to throw a head kick at a stunned oppentent. You should on every other time back up at an angle and continue the angles until your either safe or have made a good counter attack to stop your oppent in his tracks.
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Onganju View Post
Best way to "back up" is actually to step away at an angle as stated above. I kinda covered this in the threads on footwork and the jab. This goes deep down into the basics of footwork (which is almost completely unappreciated by even most "knowledgeable" fans of combat sports in general). I won't go into the details now, but stance, balance, even how you place the weight on your feet play into it and it takes a lifetime in itself to develope.

Now the punching off a back step is really rooted in an innate sense of developed rhythm, and isn't unlike dancing. Ali was notorious for tagging his opponents inside and backing away while stinging them with his jab (same for other great jabbers like Leonard, Hearns and Pep). The effectiveness of it was greatly due to his footwork. Once his rear foot stepped down he would rebound off of it (not unlike doing the swing - if your familiar with that dance) setting his center of mass the opposite direction as his opponent would advance in on the end of his jab. Their incoming momentum added to the amount of force generated at the point of contact making it very effective. The lovely thing about it was that he didn't need to apply any extra "umph" while jabbing, he just needed to do it fast and with intent.

Punching off of a retreat is done generally in the same way, whether it is a cross, hook, uppercut, or (in Chuck's case) an overhand right. Being able to do so takes quite a bit of practice, and a better sense of footwork and rhythm.

If you want particulars, let me know and I'll get into it then.
I would like some more particulars, if you will,with regard to throwing a hook while moving backward,also throwing an uppercut while moving backward.
I would like some pointers, too, perhaps,with regard to bounding off the back foot;I believe that this might be a specific example of what Bruce Lee got from studying Ali.
The main thing is, though: I just feel stiff and awkward and slow doing it.I am simply not comfortable at all moving backwards.
Also,you say,"how you place your weight on your feet.."
Could you please go into the particulars of that?
that might be a big part of my problem.Also:
Can you suggest some sort of preliminary drills for me to try?
Thanx again as always,
Appreciate it,
Ferdelance

Last edited by Ferdelance : 01-17-2008 at 01:18 PM. Reason: Needed to add something
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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moving back and throwing power punches -> say your in northpaw - throw cross - step back with left leg with heel to outside and punch with left so that your punch is done when leg touches the floor (making it the power punch because of the stance) - then right leg back heel outside again(if you freeze in that position you can see that with heel outside it looks like a regular front power punch) and cross and so on.
Works the same with attacking forward - thing to remember is you punch comes from the side on which leg is in the back - to make it powerful.

not sure if i explained good, but it's a great move to practice and does give you powerful punches + helps with coordination

Last edited by Zemelya : 01-17-2008 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 01-20-2008, 02:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferdelance View Post
I would like some more particulars, if you will,with regard to throwing a hook while moving backward,also throwing an uppercut while moving backward.
I would like some pointers, too, perhaps,with regard to bounding off the back foot;I believe that this might be a specific example of what Bruce Lee got from studying Ali.
The main thing is, though: I just feel stiff and awkward and slow doing it.I am simply not comfortable at all moving backwards.
Also,you say,"how you place your weight on your feet.."
Could you please go into the particulars of that?
that might be a big part of my problem.Also:
Can you suggest some sort of preliminary drills for me to try?
Thanx again as always,
Appreciate it,
Ferdelance
Okay... Let me just put forward the basics. That way when I get into the specific details a set reference point is understood before hand. So let's look at your basic MMA stance. Taken from the How Do You Defend Against? thread (because I'm too lazy to retype all of this):
Quote:
Stance:
Your basic MMA fighting stance is a hybrid stance of Western Boxing and Greco-Roman Wrestling. Not only must the MMA competitor be wary of strikes, but they must also be aware of takedowns and being clinched. So let me lay out your standard MMA fighting stance or “en garde” position, as all the following techniques will assume you are in this position. We will assume an orthodox position for simplicity's sake, but the standard conventions behind the upcoming list of techniques can (and should) be drilled and utilized in a southpaw position.

Let’s say that you are standing on a clock face with your body facing noon, your left foot would be at 10 o’clock and your right foot would be at 4 o’clock. Your knees would be bent, with your weight evenly distributed on both legs. Your body should be in a position between being completely upright and crouching. Both hands would be up at face level, with your right hand up by your right cheek and your right elbow resting on your ribcage. Your left hand will be up in front of your left shoulder about 12 inches away, with your left elbow resting on the left side of your ribcage. Your chin would be tucked down toward your chest while your lead shoulder is brought up to help keep it protected. Resist the urge to flare out your elbows in an inverted “V” as that opens up your body. That in a nutshell is your basic MMA fighting stance; the “en garde” position.
At this point I will add in the tidbit of info that answers the question of "how to place the weight on your feet." While the weight distribution between your legs should be 50-50 (more or less), you will actually be placing the weight of your body through the balls of your foot to the floor. No, you aren't required to to move around, heel raised in a ballerina's half-step position. You want to be conscious of not being "flat-footed" with your weight completely settled from your toes to your heel as doing so will hamper your mobility severely. Aside from that, it can be an injury producing habit if you are engaging in quick circular or pivoting movements (more on that later).

The purpose of good footwork and stance (and the reasons why I harp on it a lot) is that it will allow a fighter to be mobile, while still providing a solid base and power. As contradictory as that seems (how can you be mobile and have a solid base), it is possible. It is also the same reason why it is a cornerstone skill that is engrained into practitioners of many traditional grappling styles and many contemporary striking styles from day one. Not suprisingly so, many of the concepts and techniques are universally applicable accross the a wide majority of the martial arts spectrums (with some more "exotic" styles being the exception). The rules of boxing footwork are just as applicable in applying kuzushi or tsukuri in judo. How so? Let me explain...

The Shuffle, Slide and Pull, Step and Drag, etc.:
The basic rule of footwork is to keep one at least one foot on the ground at all times, and to keep your feet in as much contact with the floor as possible. I know what you're thinking: So how do you actually move around? While you are outside of the combat range of your opponent, normal walking (or running if you are) is fine. While you are within the combat range of your opponent, then your footwork will kick in. This type of movement is called many things: Shuffling, Slide and Pull, Step and Drap, Push Step, etc. Simply stated, it works like this:

To move forward, you would take a step forward with your front foot by sliding it forward a few inches. Once you settle your weight down on that foot, you would drag your rear foot forward until you settle into your natural fighting stance. It would look something like this:



On the same principle to move backward, you would step your rear foot back by sliding it a few inches. Once you settle your weight down, you would drag your front foot back until you settle into your natural fighting stance. Again, something like this:



If you were to move to your left, you would step out to your left a few inches and then drag (pull) your right foot into its natural position. Likewise if you were to move to your right, you would step out to your right and then drag (pull) your left foot back into its natural position. Like this:



In essence, you are widening and closing your base and directing your power the same way you are moving. This brings up the little detail of placing your weight on the balls of your feet. If you are completely flat-footed, being able to slide your foot in any direction along the floor becomes difficult. While it is great for standing still in one place for long periods of time, it doesn't help at all in situations where you must be mobile.

Further, if you are flat-footed and you need to turn or pivot out quickly, you will find that your body will move in the direction you want it to go but your foot (your base) will not. You will lose balance and possibly fall. Add in the addition of any possible ballistic movements that depend on that pivot (like a hook or roundhouse kick), and you create a situation where you can blow out your knee and ankle. So, weight through the balls of your foot and not through your heels.

All get into the pivot movements and adding strikes alongside these movements in a later post.
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Wow, I feel like there should be some movement where all of Oganju's tips and advice posts should be compile and archived in one master thread with a table of conents. The advice you constantly give that I read is just amazing.
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Old 01-22-2008, 10:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferdelance View Post
I saw a really sweet move on a televised fight recently:
The fighter nailed his opponent with a beautiful punch to the face, then he stepped back out of range of his opponent's answering punch, which subsequently missed completely!
This made me realize: I never practice stepping back!
In fact, I don't know the correct way to step back!
Everything is forward, forward,forward!
And yet I also recall the saying,"The smart general is the one who knows how to retreat!"
Knowing how and when to retreat can be as important as how to charge,isn't it?
so my question:What is the correct back to move backwards?
What kinds of things should you keep in mind when moving backwards defensively, and offensively?
Like in all of my TMA so far, we have always punched stepping forwards.
How do you punch stepping backwards?
It should be possible, I would think.
What can you tell me?
Appreciate it,
Ferdelance
Where do you train where they dont teach you how to back up? Are yuu still just punching the bags and mitts? You should work on backing up while your shadow boxing or just working on movement!
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Old 01-24-2008, 01:34 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Now that we have the basic footwork for forward, backward and sideways movement, let's take a look on how to move in a diagonal directions. At the end I will also note the Shift step, and a few things to look out for when working on footwork in general.

Moving Diagonally:
Now that we have a grasp on how to move along a single 90 degree axis, now we have to learn how to move about two simultaneously in diagonal directions. While moving in straight lines is pretty simple in the fact that you step with the foot closest to the direction you want to go first at all times, moving diagonally doesn't always follow that rule. This is due to the fact that you want to avoid crossing your legs as much as possible, as that can cause you to trip over your own feet. So let's look at the basic footwork on diagonal movement. Just like the previous post, we'll assume a conventional stance with the left side leading.

Moving forward to your left would be accomplished by sliding your left foot forward 45 degress to your left a few inches. Once you settle your weight on your left foot, you drag/pull your right foot forward the same direction until you settle into your natural stance.

Moving forward to your right would be done by first stepping forward and your right 45 degress with your right foot (to avoid crossing your legs) until you come up just short of having your feet completely squared to your shoulders (I'll explain why). To get an idea of the right position, the heel of your left foot and the big toe of your right foot should be in line. Once you settle your weight down on your right foot, drag/pull your left foot forward to the right in 45 degree angle until you settle back into your natural stance.

The reason why you want to avoid having your feet completely squared/in-line with your shoulders is that it doesn't allow you to brace against any force coming to you from in front or in back. In you feet are squarely in line with your shoulders, only a small amount of force above your center of mass is needed to cause you to lose balance and fall (either backwards or forwards).

Moving backward to your left would be accomplished by sliding your left foot back and to your left 45 degrees until you come just short of squaring your feet to your shoulders (for the same reasons as moving forward to your right above). Once your weight settles down, drag/pull your right foot back until you settle back into your natural stance.

Moving backward to you right would be done by sliding your right foot back and to the right 45 degrees. Once your weight settles down, drag/pull your left foot back in the same direction until you settle back into your natural stance.

The Shift Step is simply advancing or retreating in a way that causes you to momentarily change your stance from orthodox to southpaw (or vice-versa). Where the other standard pieces of footwork reliably work on the principle of "moving the foot closest to the direction you are traveling to first," during the a Shift step the adverse is true. The Shift Step is always done in a ballistic manner. The position you are momentarily left in while doesn't lend itself to the most solid of bases, but the speed of movement, and the amount of distance that can be economically covered warrants its use.

To execute the Shift Step going forward, push of the toes of your back foot and step your rear leg forward a full natural step. You will settle onto your foot with your leads changed, in a mirrored stance to what you started in. Conversely, to execute a Shift Step going backwards you would push off your front foot and pull it back one full, natural step and finish settling into the opposite lead of what you started in. So, Orthodox leads would become Southpaw and Southpaws would become Orthodox respectively. Another Shift step would return you to your natural lead position.

This is not to be confused with a "Switch Step" commonly used by TKD artists and MT practicioners to bring their front legs into a loaded power position before kicking. While the Switch step does change leads momentarily, you don't completely change your stance, neither do you always have the object of moving forward or backward during the step. During a Shift Step, the leads change (shift) while moving forward or backwards.

I wish I could find some relevant visual references, but my connection at home (ungodly slow) isn't facilitating that right now. Let me go over a few things to be aware of when working on your footwork and that should be that for this post. I'll get into the pivoting and circling in the next post. Hopefully even how to add punches and kicks in the mix also.

Things that you shouldn't do:
  • Don't stand with your base too narrow. You should try to have your feet at least a shoulder widths apart as much as possible. This will allow you a strong, mobile base that won't fall easily if one your legs leaves the ground, or if you are pressured by your opponent. Further, closed feet are easy to shoot on and suck up into a takedown.
  • Do not stand with your feet in line with each other, whether that is in line with your shoulders at 9 and 3 o'clock, or in line with your nose at 12 and 6. A small amount of force is needed in the shallow face (or rear) side of your stance above your waist will make you lose balance.
  • Do not cross your feet as you walk. Any movement that causes you to change directions while your feet are crossed will most likely cause you to fall.
  • Do not load too much weight on one leg over the other while moving. Any attacks to your primary weight-bearing leg will cause you to lose balance. Further, it will fatigue you and you won't have the benefit of using both legs for power.
  • Never Shift Step lazy. The movement for a Shift Step is quick and ballistic as it violates 2 of the "Don't Do" rules I've listed here. So if you find yourself switching leads, don't stay in the awkward situation of doing so for any longer than you need to.
  • Weight through the balls of your feet, not your heels. You want to be mobile with full access to the power your legs will afford you. Being flat foot will negate a lot of that, and will also make you injury prone.
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