Everyone knows Muhammad Ali’s famous tag line, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and it rings in every boxer’s mind when they talk about footwork. While boxing focuses on punches, the hands and the upper body, there is no mistaking that the lower body and foot movement, play a huge role in the success of a boxer. A common misconception about footwork is its sole focus on movement speed. Yes, it is important to have smooth and speedy movement, but that is only a fraction of the story. The truth is that with the right footwork, a boxer can be highly effective both offensively and defensively.
It is often said that the best way not to get hit is to not be there when the punch is thrown. Bobbing and weaving, dodging and leans can definitely help, but if a fighter positions themselves accordingly their entire body will not be there when the opponent throws their punch. More importantly, the well moving defender will not be off balanced as is often the case when using leans and feints to stay out of the reach of incoming punches. This not only means that they maintain a stable fighting stance, but it also means that they can launch an effective counter attack.
When boxers attack they can utilize good footwork to devastating ends. Speedy and technical footwork allows a fighter to launch attacks at unexpected or unorthodox angles. By doing so a fighter increases their repertoire of attacks. No longer are they constrained to attacking the opponent head-on where the odds of their attacks meeting the opponent’s defenses and counters are highest.
Another common misconception about boxing is that power is solely generated from the upper body. This is understandable since the focus of the audience is drawn to the hands, the weapons of the boxer. But follow the flow of energy and torque, and you will find that it originates from the physical foundation of the boxer, the feet. A punch throw by just swinging the arms, is not as strong as one that includes the torsional rotation of the shoulders and hips. In turn, this latter punch is less powerful than one where a fighter uses their feet to “step into the punch”. In this case, good footwork is not about speed but generating the greatest amount of power possible. The force and torque generated by a step so small that it can seem insignificant will run up through a boxers legs where it mounts in their thighs and starts unwinding when their hips start rotating. This rotation is carried through the torso and up through the shoulders. The arms and fists then lash out to deliver a power punch.
Good boxers know how to punch well, but great boxers know how to move their entire body for both defense and offense. They know how to use their hands and feet to maximize their potential and output during a fight. By using quick footwork, a boxer can avoid being attacked by positioning their bodies to avoid contact, but also to deliver swift counters. And, they can use solid footwork to ground themselves to deliver devastating blows to their opponents.
Article by the London Fight Factory