Thursday, December 5, 2013


Here is a video I've posted before of Jay, a fellow student of Sonny's practicing footwork on a hanging pendulum made from a piece of string and a tennis ball.
Jay has great 'Body English' or 'Expression' and much of it comes from his footwork.

There is nothing magical about 'footwork', we do it all the time, pretty much every time we are not sitting or lying down. We can wend our way through crowds, avoid sudden obstacles, reach out and push a door open, all in motion.

We step off curbs, round corners, and though we may not do so any more, we at least have a childhood memory of skipping and hopping, jumping and sneaking about, perhaps of sprinting, catching, running and throwing, hitting a ball with a racket, juking, spinning, and tackling.

And there are only a few basic elements that form the foundation for them all -

Finding Balance
Losing of balance
Catching balance
Weight shift

Sounds straightforward, but like the ability to throw a ball hard, there are many ways to be inefficient or just plain bad at it, so how to learn?

Well, you can break stuff down and create drills to teach different parts that then get recombined to create the final picture, but the problem with the drills is that you can start to take away the natural quality of the movement and replace it with a more wooden/rigid and tense alternative. So how do you practice drills so that they improve the quality of the movement not stilt it?

Feedback, that's the key, and in my mind, the best feedback is video.

If you can't feel what you are doing, or think you are doing one thing when actually doing something else, you will not benefit from a hundred repetitions of any drill, and in fact are probably ingraining more bad habits even deeper than before.

Watching video of yourself moving negates any delusions you might have, and really seeing the difference between what you are doing and what you THINK you are doing is invaluable.

The footwork section of the drills book I'm working on is all pretty basic stuff - 100% weight shift, balancing on one leg, moving the upper body in balance on one leg, pivoting, switching feet, sliding, stutter stepping, falling and catching, but it's fascinating to me that though most understand the words and think it's all very obvious, yet most cannot do any of it.

Video yourself and compare it to Jay's video, you'll see what I mean ... And yes, I sucked too, and could barely stand to watch myself for a long, long time, but it does get better. Might as well understand what needs fixing right?

Get the camera rolling .....

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