The biggest challenge in teaching kids is footwork.

Good footwork is crucial to self-defence and particularly so for Filipino Martial Arts. Want to avoid getting hit, slashed or stabbed? Move your feet.

At the most basic level, one should be able to step up at a 45-degree angle.

one step footwork
Stepping up at a 45-degree angle.

Yet, many kids step sideways, instead of 45 degrees as in the above picture. As a result, they are not in the optimal range to execute their technique.

Hence, I’ve been emphasizing this basic footwork pattern heavily in class and am pondering different drills to emphasize this.

I have taught the basic one step footwork more or less in the following progression:

(1) Basic V pattern footwork as illustrated in the below video.

If you are not able to view the video, click here.

I have done this drill with nearly every child in class. The odd thing is that once I remove the sticks, they revert to stepping sideways instead of up at a 45-degree angle.

This requires some problem solving. I’m considering using small orange cones or something similar to really drill this in. I don’t want the kids tripping over sticks on the floor. I may look into Bluetooth speakers at the local computer store to add music into the footwork drills and make it fun for them.

Granted, many of my students are in the 5 to 8-year-old range and it will take time for them to get the hang of this. I just have to get creative in getting the importance of footwork across to them.

(2) Brace Block against Angles of Attack

If you are not able to view this video, please click here.

As can be seen in the video, I will have kids practice their brace block against the angles of attack and make sure that they step up at a 45-degree angle away from the attack. Sometimes, they still step a bit to the side more than I would like.

I know that this will take time. Many need constant reminders to move their feet. It’s my job to remind them to keep moving their feet. I’ll be looking for fun ways to get this message across to them. As noted above, I will be experimenting with ways to drill this without it being too rote.

Bottom line, I find that teaching good footwork is the biggest challenge in teaching kids. What more important skill is there than footwork?

Over to you, what basic footwork drills do you teach? Let’s hear them!

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