by Bruce Lee and M.
In jeet kune do, mobility is heavily emphasized because to-hand combat is
a matter of movements. Your application of an effective technique depends
on your footwork. The speed of your footwork leads the way for fast kicks
and punches. If you are slow on your feet, you will be slow with your
hands and feet.
Jeet Rune do footwork should not only be easy, relaxed and alive, it
should also be firm. The traditional, classical horse stance seeks
solidity in stillness. This unnecessary, strenuous stance is not
functional because it is slow and awkward. when fighting, you have to
move in any direction instantly.
Proper footwork contributes to hitting power and your ability to avoid
punishment. Good footwork will beat any kick or punch. A moving target is
definitely more difficult to hit than a stationary one. The more skillful
you are with your footwork, the less you have to use your arms to block
or parry kicks and punches. By moving deftly, you can elude almost any
blow and prepare your fists and feet to attack.
Besides evading blows, footwork allows you to cover distance rapidly,
escape out of a tight corner and conserve your energy to counter with
more sting in your punch or kick. A heavy slugger with poor footwork will
exhaust himself as he futilely attempts to hit his opponent.
You should be able to move rapidly in any direction so you are
well-balanced to withstand blows from any angle. Your feet must always be
directly under your body. The on-guard stance presents proper body
balance and a natural alignment of your feet.
To advance, do not cross or hop. Instead, shuffle your feet. At the
outset, you will feel clumsy and slow. As you keep practicing this
movement daily, however, you will develop your speed and grace.
To do the forward shuffle, stand in the on-guard position. Slide your
front foot forward about a half-step, widening the space between your
feet just for a second as you slide your rear foot forward. When your
rear foot is moved forward, you should be back at the original position.
To advance further, repeat the process.
While doing this, maintain your balance and keep your guard up. You
should not be flat-footed; you should glide on the balls of your feet.
Learn to move like a tightrope walker.
Keep both of your knees slightly bent and relaxed. Your front foot should
be flat, but do not plant it heavily on the floor. It should be light and
raised intuitively about V8 of an inch.
Your rear heel should almost always be raised in stillness or in motion.
It is raised slightly higher than the front foot, about one-fourth or
one-half of an inch.
When your rear heel is raised, it facilitates switching your weight
immediately to your other foot when delivering a punch. Your raised back
heel allows you to react quickly and act as a spring, giving in to blows
from any angle.
Naturally, your heel should drop at the impact of the blow. There is no
fast rule that says your heels should be constantly raised or when they
should be flat. This depends on several factors. including body position
and your reactions.
In the advanced shuffle, you should be light on your feet and your weight
should be evenly distributed, except for just a split second when you are
advancing your front foot. At that instant, your weight would shift to
that foot just a little.
In retreating or moving backward cautiously, reverse your movement. The
basis behind the backward shuffle is like the advance.
From the on-guard position, slide or shuffle your rear foot backward
about half a step, widening the space between your feet for just a split
second as you slide your front foot backward. When the front foot is in
place, you should be in the on-guard position and perfectly balanced.
Unlike the advance shuffle, your weight should shift slightly to your
rear foot for just an instant.
To retreat further, continue to repeat the process. Learn to be light on
your feet continuously, and keep your rear heel raised.
The forward and backward shuffle must be made with a series of short
steps to retain complete balance. This position prepares you to shift
your body quickly to any direction and is perfect for attacking or defending.
The quick advance is almost like the forward shuffle.
Begin in the jeet kune do on-guard position and step forward with your
front foot about three inches. This seemingly insignificant movement
keeps your body aligned and maintains your balance as you move forward.
It also allows you to move with both feet evenly supplying the power.
Without this short step, your rear foot does most of the work.
As soon as you glide your front foot, quickly slide your back foot up to
replace your front foot's previous position. Unless you move your front
foot instantly, your rear foot cannot be planted properly because your
front foot will be partially in the way.
Just before your rear foot makes contact with your front foot, slide your
front foot forward. At this position, if you have not taken another step,
you should be back at the on guard position with your feet apart at a
The purpose of this drill is to move your body quickly, about eight feet
or more, in several steps. Except for the first three-inch step, the
series of steps should be made at a normal walking space.
The footwork for the quick retreat or rapid backward movement is similar
to the quick advance except you move in the opposite direction.
From the on-guard position, move your front foot back. Your front foot,
like during the quick advance, initiates the movement. Your rear foot
follows a split-second later. Unless you move your rear foot before your
front foot makes contact, your front foot cannot be planted properly.
Unlike the quick advance, you do not have to slide any of your foot. It
is just one quick motion, but your body should be in alignment and in
balance. If you were to move just once, you should be at the on-guard
position. But the purpose of this movement is to move your body four feet
The quick movement and shuffle can only be accomplished by being light on
your feet. The best exercise for overcoming the force of inertia to your
feet is skipping rope and shadowboxing several minutes. While exercising,
you must constantly be conscious of keeping your feet "light as a
feather." Eventually, you will be stepping around with natural lightness.
You must move without any strain, gliding on the balls of your feet,
bending your knees slightly and keeping your rear heel raised. There
should be sensitivity in your footwork.
Quick or relaxed footwork is a matter of proper balance. In your
training, as you return to an on-guard position after each phase of
maneuvers, shuffle on the balls of your feet with ease and feeling before
continuing on your next maneuver. This drill enhances your skill as it
simulates actual fighting.
Unless there is a strategic purpose, forward and backward movements
should be made with short and quick slides. Lengthy steps or maneuvers
that cause your weight to shift from one foot to the other should be
eliminated except when delivering a blow. At that moment, your body is
imbalanced-restricting your attack or defense effectively. Crossing your
feet in motion is a bad habit because it tends to unbalance you and
expose your groin area.
The movement should not be a series of hops or jerks. Both feet should be
slithering rhythmically just above the surface of the floor like a
graceful ballroom dancer. Visually, your movement should not be like a
kangaroo hopping across the open plain. Instead, it should be like a
stallion galloping with even, rhythmic and graceful strokes.
The forward burst or lunge is the quickest jeet kune do movement. It is
also one of the hardest to learn because it depends on good coordination.
It is used to attack with a side kick or to counter an attack such as a kick.
The forward burst is one deep lunge. From an on-guard position, step
forward about three inches with your front foot, like the quick advance
movement. This will align and balance your body.
For faster reactions, use your lead hand as an impetus. By sweeping your
lead hand upward, you create momentum. This feeling is similar to what it
would be like if someone was jerking you forward suddenly while you were
holding onto a rope. This hand sweep also distracts your opponent and
throws his timing off.
While sweeping your hand upward, swing your hips forward simultaneously,
dragging your rear foot forward. In that split instant, your weight is
heavily on your front foot. At this moment, your leg straightens out to
thrust your body forward.
Sometimes, on an especially deep, penetrating leap, your rear foot may be
ahead of your front foot while you are gliding in the air. You must land
on your left foot only, as your right foot is delivering a side kick.
As soon as you have completed your kick, you should quickly place your
right foot down and assume the on guard position. That one leap should
carry your body at least two wide steps.
In a recent test with the forward burst, it took only 3/4 of a second to
travel eight feet. By applying the classical lunge movement or stepping
by crossing your feet, it took one and one-half seconds to reach the same
distance-twice the time.
The leap should be more horizontal than vertical. It is more like a broad
jump than a high jump. You should try for distance by keeping your feet
close to the floor. Your knees should always be bent slightly so that the
powerful thigh muscles (springy expressiveness) are utilized.
When practicing this footwork in the beginning, don't worry about your
hands. Just keep them in the regular jeet kune do position and
concentrate on your footwork. Once you are accustomed to the foot
movement with proper balance, learn to sweep your hand forward just
before each leap.
To develop speed and naturalness in your movement, adopt the following
exercise in your daily training.
From an on-guard position, do the forward burst without penetrating too
deeply. Sweep your hand upward and leap forward without straining
yourself. Quickly place your front foot down without kicking. Continue to
do this motion over and over again without stopping. But make sure you
keep your balance and fluidity in motion. This exercise is excellent to
adapt your body to move with ease, rhythm and grace.
As you become more adaptable to the movement, increase your speed and
work toward shortening the distance by more and more execution.
Eventually, you can substitute a backfist punch for the sweeping movement
of your hand.
The backward thrust is like the quick backward movement except that it
carries your body backward quicker and deeper. From an on guard position,
push the ball of your front foot to initiate the motion which straightens
your front knee and shifts the weight to the rear foot. Then the front
foot, without pausing from the initial motion, leaves the floor and
crosses your rear foot. Just before it lands, your rear leg, with its
knee bent and acting like a spring, should thrust your body with a sudden
straightening of its leg. You should land on the ball of your front foot
just a second before your rear foot touches the floor. That one quick
motion should carry your body backward at least two steps.
The backward burst carries your body just as fast as the forward lunge.
In the same test, it took exactly the same time to travel eight feet
backward as forward-3/4 of a second. But by comparison, the classical
movement covered the same distance in one second flat.
For your daily training, do the backward burst for speed, balance and
rhythm instead of deep penetration. Move with lightness of your feet and
keep practicing toward shortening the distance.
When jogging, rapidly shuffle your feet and keep jogging.
Or you can do a forward burst while your partner does the backward burst.
From an on-guard position, attempt to reach your partner with a light
side kick as he tries to keep his distance. Then reverse your positions.
Learn not to hurl yourself recklessly at your partner. Instead, try to
narrow the gap of space in a calm and exact manner. Keep drilling faster
and faster by lunging 200 to 300 times per day. Acceleration can be
increased only by discipline in your workout.
© 1995 Rainbow Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.