Foot Work Stepping Transitioning Around Your Opponent

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Foot Work Stepping Transitioning Around Your Opponent

What is foot work or transitioning?: If you are close enough to punch your opponent, you cannot kick him/her. If you are the right distance to use your lead leg to kick, you can not punch or use rear leg kick without moving further away or closer. If you are far enough to use your rear leg then you can not use your hands or lead leg without changing your distance to your opponent. Foot work in essence is the art of maneuvering between these 3 primary distances.

For more information, please visit the main Taekwondo Sparring section.

Instructions for Technique

Maneuvering between the three distances or circles as I like to call them includes many different technique options. The video below provides eight of the most common ones that have proven themselves very effective.

1) Sliding: Moving your whole body either forward, or backwards without leaving the ground. The distance between you feet never change in this transition. You also maintain a side facing so as never to expose you center to you opponent. Sliding is useful because you do not have to telegraph very much at all in order to perform this maneuver. You can also perform a sliding kick. Lifting you kicking leg before you transition forward, then slide on one foot closer to you opponent.

2) Non Linier Sliding: You can also Slide from side to side. This will allow you to avoid techniques without sacrificing distance to you opponent. It also allows you to change your position in relation to your opponent allowing you to attack from a dominant position. (see video for dominant position explanation)

3) Fading: A Fading technique is for when you want to get away after an attack or to reopen distance between you and your opponent after you have launched an attack. You jump or slide backwards and throw a lead leg kick while retreating. This will keep your opponent from opening the gap or effectively counter attacking.

4) Shuffle Stepping: In this transition you move one foot forward or backwards or sideways and the other follows. The stance gets larger and then the same size, but never gets any smaller. It is very useful when moving forwards to punch or moving forward off of a lead leg kick.

5) Round Out: Your lead foot stays planted and your back foot swings out behind you about 45 degrees moving you out of the line of attack but keeping your power zone aiming at your opponent outside of his/hers.

6) Shift: Your rear foot stays planted and your front foot moves either forwards or backwards but not past you back foot. This allows you to maintain an anchor in your back foot while adjusting your distance. The anchor of your back foot allows you to shift your weight quickly back to your back foot and launch a lead leg kick or avoid one, or jam your opponents attack by changing circles while retaining the ability to counter attack kick despite having jammed a kick by moving into circle 1.

7) Jump: You lift your whole body off of the ground and move either forwards or backwards or side to side. This is similar to the sliding and non linear sliding but much bigger and less subtle. You lift your whole body up and throw it into, way from or aside from you opponent. You can attack in the air, or when you land from the technique. It covers distance fast and is useful in smashing through your opponents defenses.

8) Step Away Step In: You move your lead foot to be next to your rear foot and then you step your rear foot forward. This allows you to move with a kick just out of it's range and then inwards again following the retraction of the kick allowing you to counter before post kick balance is regained.

9) Skipping/Step Behind: With this technique you stay sideways and either skip or cross your leg behind your lead leg to move forwards. You can kick or Punch during or after this transition. It's benefits are mostly that you maintain a side facing easily defendable position while moving quickly into your opponent to launch a powerful attack.


Reference Sources

  1. Instructions are courtesy of Simon Scher, Northampton Martial Arts,,, Added - 12/19/15

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