Developing Your Footwork: Asterisk Practice
Updated: Jul 28, 2018
Footwork is an essential part of your martial arts and self-defense practice. The most important thing to accomplish, if you are point sparring or in a street fight, is to not get hit. Avoiding attacks is great, but if you can't land your own techniques then you won't score many points and you can't stop an attacker. In the ring or in a fight, usually you don't have a lot of space to move in. Constantly leaving the ring in point sparring will earn you point deductions. You need to know how to move to gain space. An essential part of your footwork practice should involve asterisk or snowflake work.
At Auburn Martial Arts the asterisk movements are incorporated into practice in the beginner belt ranks. Footwork is such a fundamental skill that students need to understand the basic movements immediately. To that end let me explain the asterisk featured above. You can see that this is a cross with and x through it. If you have a private training space, you can duct tape the symbol on the floor to assist you. If you are in a training studio, usually the mats will make a cross. Your imagination can go the extra mile and envision the x through it.
To use this tool in training, you stand on the #1 line facing the #4. The number one position is a linear retreating position that many beginner fighters love to use. In your fighting stance, you slide your rear leg back and allow your lead leg to follow. This move is used to gain space. You can follow it with a side kick or push kick from your lead leg on an imaginary opponent coming at you from the #4. Once you have that down you can advance your training by implementing spin kicks from the number one. From your fighting stance, use your lead leg to step back and throw the spin kick with the rear leg. Remember I said beginners like to use this one? It's because it is a basic retreat. However, if you only use this number you will find yourself retreating out of the ring often and losing points because of it.
The #2 position is the second position you should be drilling constantly. The #2 allows you to evade the attack while moving into better position for a counter attack. From your fighting stance stand in the #1 position looking at the #4. In a left foot forward fighting stance, slide your right leg out to the #2 on the right and then bring your front foot over. You should now be in an angled position staring at your opponent who attacked to the center of the asterisk. Return to the #1 position with your left foot forward. Then move your left foot to the #2 position and left the right foot follow and become your lead leg. Practice to the left and right multiple times then switch to your right foot forward. When you go to the #2 on the right, your right lead leg will become the back one as the left follows in front. When you go to the #2 on the left your, left rear leg will start by moving to the #2 and then the right will follow, remaining as the lead leg. First drill just the movements and then add attack techniques after the movement. Think about where your opponent's body is and what kicks would be effective.
Moving to the #3 position is the same as the #2, except your movement needs to be larger and you want to land in a 90 degree angle to your opponent. The number three movement is very useful when combined with side kicks and hook kicks.
The #5 position is an advanced movement. You are literally passing by your opponent so they end up in the #1 position and you are in the #5. This can be accomplished with taking two steps forward and landing looking back at your opponent you went by. However, when you have an opponent in the way, it may not be that easy. To pass by them you can employ spin kicks that move you past or 360 axe kicks.
Practice the movements and the movements with attacks multiple times each day. If you are an adult or talented child sparring with a child that does not have much experience, try using just your footwork and see if you get hit. There are a couple of drills that you can do with a partner or group to make things more interesting:
Have one person from the group call, "left #2," "right #3," etc. randomly. This will cause you to learn to respond rapidly so you can deploy your evasion and attack technique quickly.
Have one person perform a roundhouse kick towards the other. Practice evading to all of the numbers from the kick. As you guys get better, if the person performing the initial roundhouse hits the individual they win. But, if the person using the angle and then delivering a counter-strike evades the initial kick and makes contact with their attack, they win. You can make a game of it. This drill improves both the speed of the attacker's initial kick and the speed of the dodger's use of angles. Keep switching partners if possible to challenge yourself.
Put your angles to use in sparring. Each match should be an opportunity to utilize your new found footwork skills.