Footwork the Foundation to Fighting – Training Videos Included

Footwork is one of the most important, and most neglected aspects of fighting.  Footwork is literally the foundation that all the rest of fighting techniques is built upon.  These drills can be incredibly powerful if practiced with focus and intent.  These drills are just a piece of our overall training system called Iron-Warrior System.

When it comes to training we developed the DCV approach.  D stands for define.  C stands for choreograph. V stands for variety.

When it comes to learning footwork start with the basics.  This first drill is a simple stepping method that keeps the same leg in front at all times.  This allows you to keep a strong defense when moving forward or backward.  The Defined skill is forward and backward steps.

Basic Footwork Part 1

Footwork: Accressere and Descressere


The name for this stepping method comes from Italian sword work. Accressere means increase or advancing step. In practical application it is a small step moving forward or advance. Descressere means decrease or decreasing step. This is the choreographed part of the drill in a “perfect world” scenario.  Fighting in armor is different than fencing. When a fighter is wearing armor there is extra material and buckles on the inner thighs. That means it is important to keep your lets shoulder width apart to keep from getting caught on your armor. Also in a competition where grappling and multiple opponents is common having a wider base will make you more stable for surprise side attacks. Keep your legs shoulder width apart with your weight balanced evenly between your feet. Take small even steps forward and small even steps backwards. Small quick steps can actually cover more ground faster than slow big steps.

Once you have mastered this stepping method it is time to add some variety.  In this example the variety is changing the direction of the drill.

Circle Drill #1


To begin this drill you need to mark your center point with a cone, can of soup, hole in the ground, literally anything will work. Start with your dominant leg forward, and keep that leg forward. Take small steps around the center point. Make sure to keep your stance shoulder width apart, and never cross your feet. Make a full circle around your center point going both right and left. Then switch your feet and repeat the drill.

Basic Footwork Part 2

Once you have perfected the forward and backward steps it is time to add some new challenges.  The problem with the first skill is speed, or lack thereof.  The Accressere and Decressere steps are very defensive and very slow.  What happens if you want to move quickly?  Time to define a new skill.  These drills will help you develop switching your feet during a fight.

Sawtooth Drill


Often during a fight it is to the fighter’s advantage to switch their feet. This drill helps develop the footwork and balance for a fighter to switch their feet. Many new fighters have the bad habit of charging straight into a fight. This leaves them open to counter attacks without an easy way to retreat. Instead if fighters can switch their feet and step off line this will not only open opportunities for them to land a strike it will give them a way to retreat without getting hit. Remember drills are about doing  choreographed movements in a “perfect world” setting pay attention to details as you go through this drill.  When doing this drill keep your weight on the balls of your feet. Start with your dominate leg in front, and your feet shoulder width apart. Step back with your dominate leg, so you are standing square. Then step forward with your non-dominate leg. Your non-dominate leg should step in the same place the dominate leg started off. Repeat this pattern as you go down the line.

Once you have mastered this stepping method it is time to add some variety.  In this example the variety is changing the direction of the drill.

Circle Drill #2


This drill is taking the footwork taught from the Saw-tooth Drill and shifting it to a circle instead of a line. This drill is still focusing on training a fighter how to switch their feet in a fight. Keep in mind drills are designed to work a single focus point or single skill. Once mastered these skills combine into a system. For this drill fighters will start with their dominate foot forward and the non-dominate foot back. They will step back with their dominate foot, both feet with be square to the center point of the circle. Next step forward with the non-dominate foot. At this point the fighter should be in a fighting stance with non-dominate foot forward. Step forward with your dominate foot. The fighter should be in a square stance close to the center point of the circle. Last step back with your non-dominate foot. The fighter should now be in the same stance they started in. Repeat these steps as you go around the circle.

These two types of stepping methods are a essential in creating a rock solid foundation for fighting.  Combined with sword strikes they make for an incredible fighter.  This article gives you a preview into the type of training found at Ironside Medieval Combat.  If you like what you see come give one of our classes a try!

We would love to hear from you. Let us know if these drills are helpful.  We also take requests for anyone wanting to learn more.  Find us on Facebook for all of our latest and greatest updates.

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