RULE NO. 1 DON’T GET OFF-BALANCE
Being off-balance is being vulnerable, and being vulnerable is an invitation to being dead. In every art, footwork keeps you grounded (literally) and therefore solid on your feet. It also keeps you mobile and thus ready for whatever comes. The goal of great footwork is to enable you to move so you’re balanced and so your opponent can’t easily off-balance you.
Inherent in every attack and most defenses is the potential for off-bal-
ancing. Kick, and there’s the possibility of getting caught by a foot sweep or leg grab. Punch, and your weight shifts, opening you to a stumble. Back away, and your attacker may move with you in an effort to cause you to trip. And so it goes — which is why footwork is seldom static.
In most martial arts, you learn to not be afraid of being hit, to accept that training comes with some bruising. And that makes sense. It’s not that you want to be a superman and superwoman able to absorb any strike, nice though that would be. It’s that fear stems from repeatedly putting yourself in situations where you’re off-balance, which gives your opponent the opportunity to strike. As you learn to maintain your balance while avoiding those attacks, you lose your fear.