Close your eyes for a moment and visualize the weight of this word. What comes to mind? Locks and throws projecting people around the room? Hulking guys wearing gloves pounding on each other in a ring? Exotic weapons?
Now imagine an empty room as you walk across it from one side to the other- is this martial arts?
At our dojo the first lesson learned by a new student is how to walk- sounds simple, and it may or may not be depending on one’s approach in life. The first big question is this- how can you begin to think about effecting the movement of your training partner (read punching, kicking, locking, etc.) if your own movement is sloppy and out of balance. It’s natural to want to get to those strikes and locks, but you have to start with yourself first…
…and that beginning is found in something as simple as walking. Stand up, try to relax, and walk across the room. Turn around and walk back, only this time casually look down and watch your feet as you cross the room.
Are your feet moving and pointing in the same direction that you are moving? Are you slamming your feet down, or taking extra longs strides? Be honest, if you are then your body is potentially and probably out of balance. Not that this is ever “ok” but in a normal day to day situation this is fine, but in a martial arts scenario, interacting with training partners these flaws will be magnified and work against you.
How you move your feet across the floor is a direct magnification of what will happen in your own movement- good will get better, bad will get worse.
So what is the correct way to walk across the room?
First begin by trying to relax your entire body, let the tension go as everything is connected to each other and tension in say your back will affect your legs. Next, bend your knees and as you take each step make sure your feet are pointing straight in the direction that you are walking. As you place each foot down, be sure not to slam your heel or ball of the foot (it will just hurt you knees later on in life) and keep your weight distributed 50/50 on each leg. With each stride, pay attention to how far you step, while this will be a bit different for each person, as we all have a different leg length and foot size, you want to make sure that the heel of your advancing foot doesn’t move much past the toes of your back foot.
Practice this for a bit, and then try to walk from one side of the room to the other without looking down at your feet. When you get to the other side, stop and look down- are your feet still pointing in the correct direction or have they reverted back to their old ways?
The goal is to be able to move and walk in this manner without thinking or your brain correcting your body. Maybe this is easy to do, maybe it isn’t- stretching ht legs, hips, ankles will help, as will paying attention to how you stand during the day- feet under your legs, legs under your hips, weight 50/50, and feet pointing ahead.