A good stance is the foundation of effective
fighting; but against a world-class player, a
good stance alone is not enough. You must
now develop good footwork.
An opponent in free fighting is not a stationary
object. Competitors must continually adjust
the distance between themselves and their
opponents, to maintain the greatest
advantage. For this purpose it is far better to
have a ready catalogue of steps than to rely on
ad hoc responses. Below I will introduce four
basic steps, and some free fighting exercises
in which to practice them. But first let’s
discuss some of the concepts that underly
good foot work.
Consider two opponents squaring off for a
match. An unlimited variety of attacks,
evasions and counter-attacks are possible.
This makes for a rather complicated scenario
but not an unmanageable one, provided we
approach it scientifically. We can simplify the
“equation” by concentrating our analysis on
two major controlling variables: distance and
Distance is the amount of space that
separates you and your opponent. At any
moment in a match, the distance will be too
great, too small, or just right for delivering a
given attack. A successful competitor must be
able to adjust distance, in order to get to the
right place to deliver an attack. Footwork is the
key to controlling the distance between
yourself and your opponent.
Position is the relationship between your
stance and that of your opponent, depending
on which lead each of you assumes. Since a
player will always lead with either the left or
the right, there are only two basic positions
that normally occur in the ring: open position,
in which players lead with opposite sides
(right to left or left to right); and closed
position, in which players assume the same
lead (right to right or left to left). Since
techniques vary in usefulness according to
position, a successful competitor must be
able to control position, in order to set up an
appropriate attack. Once again, footwork is the
key to controlling your position.
Four Basic Steps
I will now introduce four basic steps that are
particularly useful in helping a fighter to
control position and adjust distance: junjin
step, whojin step, ilbojunjin step, and
1. Junjin step is used for quickly closing
the distance between you and your opponent.
Beginning (always) from fighting stance, first
slide your rear foot. Now complete the step by
moving the leading foot forward an equal
distance, to end in fighting stance. When this
step is performed at fighting speed the feet
move almost simultaneously, though the rear
foot does initiate the action.
2. Whojin step is essentially the reverse of
junjin step. Logically, then it is used to retreat
from an advancing opponent. To perform this
step, slide the from foot backwards to the
approximate position of the rear foot; then
move the rear foot back an equal distance, to
re-establish fighting stance. Again, the feet
should move almost simultaneously.
These two steps, one forward and one
rearward, provide a means of adjusting
distance. The next two steps offer a means of
altering both distance and position.
3. Ilbojunji step is a forward step used to
close distance while simultaneously
switching your lead. By switching your lead
you will, of course, alter the established
position (from open to closed or vice versa).
This step is performed in a single motion,
moving only the rear leg. Shift your balance
forward, twist your rear hip and shoulder
forward, and push off with your rear foot to
step forward one stance width ahead of your
leading foot. Your rear leg becomes your
leading leg. You have now re-established
fighting stance while advancing and switching
4. Ilbowhojin step is the reverse of
ilbojunjin step. It is used to move back from
an advancing opponent while simultaneously
switching your lead. To perform this step,
quickly twist your leading hip and shoulder to
the rear, push off with your leading foot and
These four steps form the basis of an
elaborate transportation system to be used in
free fighting. They enable you to control both
distance and position, to attack, evade and
counter-attack at will. Review them briefly:
Two forward step:
Junjin – to advance toward an opponent
Ilbojunjin – to advance while switching lead
Two rearward steps:
Whojin – to move back from an opponent
Ilbowhhojin – to move back while switching
I have given you only a brief description of how
these steps can be used. Actually they have
Stance is the most basic element of a martial art; it provides the posture from which all other techniques are
performed. For successful competition, it is essential to choose stances that are appropriate to the style of play.
Taekwondo uses many different stances, each effective in different situations. The deep and wide traditional stances
are very stable, and are quite useful in single-point style are very stable tournaments, where the action is halted
whenever a point is scored. However, in WTF competition where the action is continuous, it turns out that the deep,
stable stances are actually a hindrance.
Experience has shown that a narrow, unstable stance affords the greatest quickness and mobility. Because these
qualities are of primary importance in continuous-action fighting, the world's top teams favor narrower stances.
Let their success speak for itself! The recommended fighting stance for WTF competition, therefore, is a narrow one,
in which your feet are about a shoulder width apart, and displaced that same distance from front to rear. The feet are
pointed (roughly) toward your opponent, while hips and shoulders are turned between 45 and 60 degrees away from
the opponent. Hands are kept up, ready to guard or punch, with elbows resting lightly against the rib cage to protect
I encourage fighters to keep their weight and center of balance slightly forward (51% on the front foot, 49% rear),
since this enhances an offensive style. Of course, balance is dynamic; it is constantly shifting in the course of a fight.
For example, when performing a front leg defensive kick against a charging opponent, one's weight must be on the
rear leg. However, since most points are scored with rear kicks, it is preferable, on the whole, to keep more weight
on the front foot. Keeping one's balance forward also makes it easier to do multiple kicks in rapid succession.
reach the head. An upright stance also lets you bounce lightly on the balls of your feet, to stay constantly in motion. A
fighter who is slightly in motion at all times can spring into action more quickly than one who is completely still and
has to a overcome inertia. Therefore, "bouncing" leaves you better able to react to an opening before it is gone-or
evade an attack before it is too late! It is important to maintain the recommended fighting stance at all times,
returning to it after every movement or attack. This ensures a constant state of readiness and fast reaction time.
|Sport Taekwondo Center Associates