Taekwondo Footwork

Taekwondo footwork focuses primarily on linear movement “in” to land strikes and kicks, and “out” to retreat out of range of counter attacks.

Footwork (known by the Korean term jitgi) refers to your ability to place yourself where you want to be in the midst of competition and to move out of unfavorable locations.

It involves keeping balance, closing or furthering the distance, controlling positioning, and creating additional momentum for strikes.

To the average individual, footwork is just a random set of occurrences that causes them to move in or move out of a particular situation.

To the taekwondo practitioner, footwork is a science.

Footwork training is an essential element of your sparring education.

Dominated by the philosophy that the fastest and most economical way to an opponent is a straight line, taekwondo uses most often linear movement and focuses primarily on the speed of advance and retreat to overcome an adversary.

It teaches you the best method to move in on an opponent and then strike with an appropriate offensive attack.

With an understanding of footwork, you also know the best way to move out of the path of an attack, allowing you to defend yourself or immediately counterstrike.

Types of Taekwondo Footwork

Linear Footwork

The first style of footwork employed in taekwondo is known as “linear footwork.”

Linear footwork is broken up into two categories:

  1. Forward footwork, which is known in Korean as naga jitgi, and
  2. Reverse footwork, which is known by the Korean term mullo jitgi.

Forward Footwork

Training in forward footwork teaches you to rapidly move in toward your opponent and attack with one very direct linear movement.

This forward motion can take the form of either a step or a slide.

An ideal example of this occurs when a match begins and you immediately slide in toward your opponent and deliver a front kick to his midsection, under his guard.

Reverse Footwork

Training in reverse footwork teaches you to rapidly move back, away from the onslaught of an opponent, in a linear pattern.

As in the case of forward footwork, this movement may take the form of a step or a slide. A jump back is also a possible type of reverse footwork.

The common reason for retreating in this fashion is that your opponent has launched an attack at you.

Instead of blocking it, you wish to reposition yourself to launch a counterattack.

An ideal example of this is seen in the case of an axe kick being launched in your direction.

You slide back out of its path and then immediately counter with a roundhouse kick.

Lateral Footwork

The next form of footwork you must master is the lateral move.

When performing this technique, you move from side to side while in competition.

The basic application of lateral footwork, bekyo jitgi, is to simply slide or step to the side when a linear attack has been launched against you. This action is performed to allow you to reposition yourself for a counterstrike.

For example, suppose your opponent has attempted a sidekick.

You would simply slide to one side, out of the path of the attack, and then immediately counterstrike him with a roundhouse kick or other appropriate technique.

At the more advanced level of lateral footwork, you pivot out of the path of an oncoming attack.

For example, suppose a front kick is launched at you.

Leaving your lead leg in place, you pivot backward on the ball of your foot, out of the path of the attack.

Once the attack has missed, you immediately pivot back into position and launch a counterstrike.

Turning Footwork

Turning footwork, dwi dora jitgi, is the most advanced level of footwork employed by the taekwondo practitioner.

With turning footwork, you actually spin out of the path of an attack, continue with the spin, and launch your own offensive assault.

For example, suppose your opponent attempts to kick you with an axe kick.

You pivot out of the path of the attack on the ball of your foot. You then continue spinning through, delivering a spinning heel kick to his head.

This level of footwork is only for the most advanced practitioners, who understand their own offensive speed and capabilities.

In addition, they must understand the dynamics of their opponent, in order to set the opponent up for this level of counterattack.

The Feint

A feint is a mock attack intended to distract the attention of your opponent.

To use this type of footwork, you can simply rapidly jump forward and stamp your lead foot as it lands on the ground.

This may well distract your opponent for a second.

In this moment of indecision, you can launch a powerful secondary attack, such as a rear-leg front kick—thereby scoring a point.

Developing Footwork

The development and application of footwork is a personal process for the taekwondo practitioner.

It is something that is achieved through time and with extensive amounts of practice.

It is essential to understand that each opponent will deal with your footwork in his or her own unique manner.

Therefore, the style of footwork that will cause you to emerge victorious from a match with one competitor may not work with another.

For this reason, you must first develop an overall pattern of footwork technique that works with your body type and level of competition.

You must then be willing to alter this pattern, to deal with the specific type of opponent you are fighting.

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