Correct Positioning

Many times over the years I have said such remarks as ”get your feet in the right place, hit what you are aiming at and the rest kind of just falls into place”.
This is an over-simplified and arguably throw away remark that undermines my own true meaning and intention.
Let’s look at these two aspects in much greater detail.

Getting your feet in the right place

I explained this in great detail in my book in about 1998 and like many things it needs applying and re-applying even more so today.
This has to be looked at from many perspectives.
It is not just about being in the perfect ”stance”.
I have lost count of the times I have asked various Karateka, sports fighters etc to show me their ”stance” for certain techniques / boxing stance etc.
More often than not they have ”obsessed” over the aesthetics or the look of the stance, sometimes in the positioning and rarely in the ”correct” positioning and never in the positioining as it relates to the following factors:
  • Ability to strike your opponent at the optimum range for power
  • Ability to strike your opponent in the optimum range for placement
  • Ability to strike your opponent from the optimum place at which your opponent has the fewest opportunities to defend
  • Ability to strike your opponent from the optimum place at which your opponent has the fewest opportunities to counter
  • Ability to strike your opponent from the optimum place at which your opponent has the fewest opportunities to strike you
  • Ability to ”move into” this optimum foot position without getting hit, countered, or the opponent move such that you are now in the wrong place.
  • Ability to ”move out of” this optimum foot position without getting hit, countered and be able to strike again, counter or indeed move so that your opponent is hitting at thin air.
It is true to say that from a neutral position there is always a position where the above can be done to your opponent and always a position where this can be done to you.
It is the understanding of the correct foot position as we realet to it, that is the key to making your Martial Arts work. Whether that be for Sports Kumite, Self Defense or for Combat Sports.
The more weapons allowed in your combat sport, then the more ”complicated” this positioning becomes.
For this example I am going to relate everything to Boxing, purely because everyone understands certain punches and has experience of them.
For about 17 years now I have demonstrated a simple example and exercie that anyone can use to learn these positions for themselves.
It starts as very basic exercise taken in isolation.

Remember, this is a FREEZE FRAME analysis of a whole movement.

This is looking at frame 7 of a 15 frame video clip.
Here is how I explain it.

First of all we both get into our Boxing stances facing each other.
You stand how you would in a Boxing match and I will copy you.
We test for distance slowly and adjust till we reach a distance whereby both can ”just land a jab” without having to move our feet.

i.e. we have adjusted to our mutual frame 7

I ensure that my training partner is fully happy that he is at his prime frame 7.
9 times out of 10 his jab could land, but he is unable to land his cross without moving his feet.
In other words he is totally limited to the jab at frame 7, he needs to adjust in frames 8-11 or maybe even more, to land his cross.

I then show where my ideal frame 7 would actually be.

9 times out of 10 I simply move my front foot about 2-3 inches to the left (without moving towards my opponent) and then explain how I am going to now move BACKWARDS but be CLOSER to you.
My back leg moves AWAY from my opponent and out to the right slightly, with my heel off the ground.
So, my opponent now knows that I have (according to my foot position) moved away from him.

We then test for that jab distance again.

Now my opponents jab will not land from his current position.
HOWEVER, now my jab, cross, both hooks and both uppercuts are now available to me.

This is a mind f%^& when first shown… as many of my training partners, colleagues and course/seminar attendees can attest.

It is purely the BEGINNING of understanding what I mean about ”get your feet in the right place”.

Hit what you are aiming at

Again I have lost count over the years of the amount of times some self defense guru has stated that you can’t be accurate in a fight.
Lost count of the amount of times people have said you can’t accurately hit a moving target.

What they should have said is: ”From the foot position we are using we cant be accurate and have difficulty hitting a moving target.”

This is because, almost without fail, they do not have their feet in the right place.
If your feet are in the right place, as per my meaning of the phrase, then placement is made 100 times easier.

We PRACTICE to hit the smallest target possible IN THE CORRECT MANNER.

Over the years I have had literally thousands of rounds of Boxing sparring.
During these sessions there have been countless times when my sparring partner was allowed to hit anywhere and I ”chose” to tell my partner where I was going to hit him.
I told my sparring partner that I would only hit that particular target and nothing else.

They still had great difficulty in defending that target.

During the hundreds of rounds I have done and viewed others with great pros like Herol Graham I have witnessed and tried to emulate this hitting what you are aiming at.
I have seen, done and had done to me things such as this during open sparring, even telling the opponent what 3 punch combo you are going to land, what you are going to hit and then doing it.

Is this infallible? Of course not… everyone makes mistakes, everyone gets clocked now and again and everyone meets someone better now and again.
But what the above will do, is improve your ability massively.
It almost makes that freeze frame moment last longer for you.
You can achieve so much more within a smaller time period.

I used to demonstarte exactly the same methods to Karateka, Kickboxers and Thai Boxers for their ever constant opening combo of Jab, Cross Back leg roundhouse.
9 times out of 10 the roundhouse appears too long after the cross.
I told them to listen to the cadence of the strikes when they did this combo on the pads

It is almost always: 1,2 pause 3

When it should be 1,2,3

The time gap between the cross and roundhouse is WAY WAY bigger than the time gap between the jab and cross.


Go back to putting your feet in the correct place to start with and then you can test this yourself very easily.
Learn where these optimum positions for you are.
Then you can learn how to get to them and away from them.

  • Isolate the problem
  • Analyse it
  • Break it down
  • Build it back up
  • Then apply all the principles you have just learned and APPLY those principles to all your other techniques.
The above explanation should sound familiar to you, I have been using it for 20 years.

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7 Responses

    1. Hi Mark

      I will be putting this on Video soon, it will be later this year or early next…

      In the meantime look at clips from Boxers such as… Herol Graham, Pernell Whittaker, Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones, James Toney etc. There you will see how the foot placement puts them in range whilst being out of range of their opponents.

      Along with incredible body, head movement. This ”flow” is something we as Martial Artists should aspire to achieving.

      At times it can appear that they are just great counter hitters… but that does not do them justice.

      They are not so much counter hitting as striking when the opponent is in range.. the opponent could be swinging at them… but not realise that he is in fact out of range when he starts his attack… so he is not really being hit on the counter…hope that makes sense?

  1. I have recently browsed an article in relation to foot positioning and where possible a stance of sort. I agree with the theory and understand the bodies working mechanism is important. Years back I trained with Terry Pottage of Shukokai Karate emphasis was foot, stance position.

    1. Shukokia placed great importance on the correct use of the ”Double Hip”… which was very much mis-understood.

      Peter Consterdine was instrumental in getting this concept across to Shukokai and to Martial Artists in general.

      Once this is properly understood, then you are on the way to correct positioning

  2. Hi Russell, thank you for the info, do you have a training system for sale where I can practice the techniques you have revealed, simple drills I can practice to develop proper positioning get a better understanding through feel what you mean etc.

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