Developing Fast Feet

I would like to share a concept with you that, if mastered, will give your opponents pure hell.

The term “fast feet” is a misunderstood concept in all of the fighting sciences–not just the martial arts. I would like to give you the definition of “fast” footwork in the Gatdula style, and hopefully you will find a place for it in your fighting method.

“Fast Footwork” must enable the fighter to move and reposition himself before the opponent has been able to adjust his own position.

Is this easy to understand? See, in fighting, we need our footwork to get us in the opponent’s face when we want to be there, and out of his face when we don’t. It has nothing to do with running fast, long legs, or “Ali-Shuffles”. We want to be able to outmaneuver our opponent and be ready to fire before he can. It’s a simple concept, but difficult to employ. This is why almost all of the classes I teach involve flanking, advancing, retreating, pivoting, dipping, pouncing… we are not going to push ourselves too much in the effort to have “fast footwork”. It should be natural and balanced, effortless and relaxed–yet hard to follow for the opponent.

So to make this quick and easy I am going to give you a simple “drill”. Take it immediately into your next training session:

  • If you have a partner, give him some sort of target or shield for you to strike, hit, punch or kick. This is a universal skill–and you can use it with any type of attack, including a grappling attack
  • If not, a punching bag or free-standing bag will work
  • If you have none of the above, you will choose two points on the floor, but aiming two opposite directions
  1. face your opponent, and fire an attack. It can be a single attack or a combination.
  2. move quickly to the second position–any position–and launch the same attack as soon as you land in the second position. If you are using a partner, he must turn and face a new direction for you to reposition and then counter.
  3. immediately after completing your counter, return to the original position and fire the attack again.


That’s it!

Now, I know for those of you coming off of the seminar/videotape corner of the FMAs, this was too simple, wasn’t it? It doesn’t sound very “Filipino”, does it? Well, I can assure you it is very Filipino. Classical FMAs are just too darned complex and although much of it is valid and practical, it is too advanced for most of you reading this blog. Trust me, I don’t care how high-ranked you are, who you studied under, how many styles you’ve studied–if you cannot attack an opponent and then reposition yourself and attack him again with ease, 99% of the stuff you’ve been taught will give you no advantage over any opponent on the street. And this is why you spend most of your “training time” with triangles and all that bullshit, you’re doing it in slow motion against a guy who is not really trying to hit you hard.

And as always, those of you who are in Northern California are welcome to contact me and I will prove to you in person that your triangle footwork doesn’t work.

So, here’s the idea behind this. The idea of “fast feet” isn’t so much the feet as it is a mental barrier that prevents you from preparing to attack. When you have moved, you must settle in your position and have all your limbs in place in order to start a new attack. The way most people train, there is no sense of urgency to reposition quickly. Your partner (don’t you dare call him an “opponent”) is not trying to follow up his attack and hit you again. Pick any clip from youtube demonstrating counters, disarms, cool Silat moves, Wing Chun trapping, etc., I guarantee you the partner has left his arm/stick/knife/punch out for you to do what ever you have to do to look good in the clip.

The mission is to move out of the opponent’s line of fire and strike him again while he is attempting to put you back in his sights and attack you again. If you would like to look at this in terms of meter, you move on the first beat, and by the second beat–while the opponent is half a beat behind you–you have already landed and the second attack is on its way.

Let me break that down for you again:

>> strike the opponent / at this moment he blocks, but you initiate your move to the new position

>> move and land in the new position while the opponent is blocking or avoiding the attack that you just recoiled / opponent realizes you have moved and begins to turn

>> launch your second attack / opponent tries to catch the strike, blocks or stops his movement – – make this a strong attack, so you are not so quick to move this time

>>  move to the original position and fire again

Making this a regular part of your strategy will make your opponent always remain half a beat behind you. While he has trained “block and counter” or “block then counter”, he will not be able to apply his technique against you because you are never there when he looks to return fire. There is a way to utilize your sissy “triangles” into this concept, but don’t bother trying to figure it out. It has nothing to do with what you’ve been taught–that has been imported from Filipino dance moves. And if you want to learn it from me, you will have to become a student.

Anyway (not wanting to taunt), you must practice this skill until it becomes natural and second nature. I do not want you to rush your movement; don’t try too hard to move fast! Remember, it is not your feet! It looks like it’s your feet, but it is the ability to think fast and move when you want to. Your feet only have to get you there without stumbling over yourself.

Before I go, there are three fighters I want you to watch. Hector “Macho” Camacho, “Prince” Naseem Hamed, and Roy Jones, Jr. These fighters make very good use of repositioning while fighting–even if only a few inches off the centerline. Take a look at this classic fight, between Macho and Jose Ramirez. Thank you for visiting my blog: