There are two basic options for footwork in the martial arts.  Weather you subscribe to linear, circular, triangular, etc…, you always need to move the lead foot first or the back foot first (OK, you could hop, leap, jump.  But for the sake of argument we’ll assume your staying on the ground)

balancepart2slide3_copyYou can take a full step, thus switching leads, or maintain your lead.

As taking large steps in WC is rare, unless you’re bridging to engage, we’ll focus on maintaining the lead.  When moving the front foot first it creates a step and slide motion, your back foot sliding into a new position based on the position of the lead.  The other option is a skip step, where your rear foot moves first, taking the desired position, then your lead foot is placed, based on the rear foot placement.

In Wing Chun the step and slide is the only footwork used (when not switching leads), it’s believed that the skip step contains inherent risks and loss of speed.  I agree that there are risks to the motion, but this should not be enough reason to eliminate it from your training.

I’ve been doing some Silat training and have found the skip step to be very useful in Chi Sao.  Using it allows you to hook the lead foot, and shift the angle of your stance.  An interesting result that’s worth playing with.

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