Footwork is so important yet in my opinion it’s something that isn’t taught often enough or well enough by many instructors.
Good footwork and dynamic movement allows you to cover distance quickly, evade or score as you please. Good footwork allows you to hit and not get hit.
Take a look at Lyoto Machida if you’re into the UFC and you’ll see a traditional karateka with excellent footwork, who has applied his skill and beaten some of the best of the UFC. In fact his record is 13-0 with victories over such names like Tito Ortiz and BJ Penn. He frustrates his opponents with his dynamic movement and is extremely hard to hit, takedown or corner. Lyoto Machida is a great example of someone in the public eye that has mastered dynamic movement.
However too many karate students aren’t interested in learning footwork, or their instructors spend little time teaching it. Many students instead want to do the next fancy technique, or BJJ submission that is the flavor of the month. When really if they possessed better footwork their chances of being cornered and taken down are hugely reduced.
(Don’t get me wrong – having good ground skills are extremely important – however it’s just ONE part of being a complete fighter.)
As success coach Tony Robbins says, “Repetition is the mother of skill”. Realize however “repetition” has another son named “boredom”. As a full time professional instructor I realize that learning proper footwork can be monotonous for students. The way around that is to mask the repetitions by doing various drills that build those skill sets. Then boredom will be less likely to be a full time resident in your dojo.
Also here’s a link to an article I wrote a few years ago for my KarateTips subscribers to help explain dynamic movement. You’re welcome to share it with your students.
Take the time to teach proper footwork regularly, and you’ll see huge differences in your student’s fighting ability.