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Developing Footwork with Dance


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I've been working steadily on martial arts, and have progressed a lot. However, beyond the stances found in forms, and looking at the flow of many sparring bouts, I've gained a much deeper appreciation for how footwork can demonstrate a person's true ability, and I wanted to find a way to develop my footwork, without adding in more specifically martial arts training than I already have, which is pushing seven to eight hours a week, not including time spent training my body in to adapt to various situations. 

 

Which brings me to this- would taking up a dance, such as zumba, be valuable to developing footwork?

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Yes and no. 

Yes they can help with balance, and moving effortlessly and gracefully along the floor. The extra cardio of Zumba won't hurt either.

No, many dance moves are not what you would do in martial arts, plus dancing usually means having rhythm with the music being played. Martial artists often want to practice a broken rhythm, which makes it harder for your opponent to time you.

 

Footwork is a skill, we usually equate footwork as one of the three key skills you need to be a good fighter. 

Dancing may improve your footwork some. However there will not be a 1:1 carry over. You may need to do 3 or more hours of dancing to gain the same benefit of 1 hour of martial arts footwork practice. 

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Dancing is good for fighters imo but for me it's because of the rhythm more than the footwork. Everything in life has a rhythm and fighting (sports fighting) especially so. As stated above, it can become easy to time someones rhythm so you don't want to be predictable. If you fall into a 1-2...1-2...1-2 pattern you can easily be timed.  But then there is the old reggae beat which has off beats or half steps and striking in between the beat etc. So you see, there are many beat patterns. The point is if you don't have rhythm then you'll have trouble finding your opponents rhythm and meshing with it.  You'll want to mesh with his rhythm then catch him in off beats/in between beats as well as start to sway him into "your" rhythm; then controlling him.  Dancing can at least help with rhythm for those lacking.

 

As for footwork that's another matter. Footwork isn't just "footwork."   There has to be a reason for how and why you move your feet. Not just to look nice and smooth. Positioning, power transmission, deceptiveness. rooting, evasiveness, etc. So there is more to footwork than just smooth movement.

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I've been working steadily on martial arts, and have progressed a lot. However, beyond the stances found in forms, and looking at the flow of many sparring bouts, I've gained a much deeper appreciation for how footwork can demonstrate a person's true ability, and I wanted to find a way to develop my footwork, without adding in more specifically martial arts training than I already have, which is pushing seven to eight hours a week, not including time spent training my body in to adapt to various situations. 

 

Which brings me to this- would taking up a dance, such as zumba, be valuable to developing footwork?

 

Dance can help for sure, good practice to transfer weight and Rhythm, as stated above. 

 

I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone mention Skipping. I'm not sure what Martial arts you currently train or if they already incorporate skipping, but it's one of the best exercises you can do for footwork!! Also, shadowboxing.

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. - George Bernard Shaw

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Something that I do to improve my footwork is work through your various ranges. Next time your working on focus pads, get your partner to give you a mix of signals for long range strikes, medium range, short then back to long. Ideally working your angles as well. For example you could start with a push (also known as jab or front) kick off your lead leg, followed by a jab\cross combo to close range for a hook\uppercut combo in which you can also work quarter turns and the bobbing and weaving as well. After that work back to longer range strikes. For an example look up some of Dan Inosanto's training videos on YouTube using focus pads.

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I've been working steadily on martial arts, and have progressed a lot. However, beyond the stances found in forms, and looking at the flow of many sparring bouts, I've gained a much deeper appreciation for how footwork can demonstrate a person's true ability, and I wanted to find a way to develop my footwork, without adding in more specifically martial arts training than I already have, which is pushing seven to eight hours a week, not including time spent training my body in to adapt to various situations. 

 

Which brings me to this- would taking up a dance, such as zumba, be valuable to developing footwork?

Hey SinaKoneko,

 

Being an ex fighter, Id have to say no, not really.

 

If you are already a dancer and then decided to start doing martial arts then sure, its going to help with your co-ordination but starting dance to help with martial arts is going in another direction. Its not necessary.

 

To become better on your feet for martial arts is a combination of strengthening, condidtioning and sparring.  As mentioned above, Skipping will keep you to be light on your feet by developing calf muscles and foot strength, its been used by boxers and fighters for ever because it works. plyometric exercises will help with your spring and movement.

 

Other than that just keep sparring, good footwork come with time...

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I did a lot of dance in college - everything from ballet/modern/jazz/tap to ballroom, Latin, and traditional West African. That background has helped me now in Krav Maga as follows:
- I have good balance and an understanding of core
- I'm more kinesthetically and spatially aware
- I'm able to observe and replicate demonstrated combinations
- I can apply certain skills to certain movements; e.g., turning my hips over in roundhouse kicks

I don't think it's helped my footwork much at all. In fact, I've had to work pretty hard to get over my "happy feet" tendency and hold my ground and my fighting stance.

ETA: Holy thread necro ... Sorry!

balance in mind ... body in motion ... making inertia my bitch

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