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Thread: Broken Footwork?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Broken Footwork?

    Hello Everyone,

    In the past I've read a number of books on KungFu and Taijiquan, and the authors mention "broken footwork". I'm guessing it's used to deceive the opponent.

    Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with this?



  2. #2
    Andrea's Avatar
    Andrea is offline Sifu Andrea Zilio - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I have only heard of broken rhythm footwork - meaning that one does break the expected rhythm in order to confuse/surprise the opponent. If I understand correctly the theory is that if your normal attack pattern is 1-2-3, you would hit at 1, 2, 2.5

    But I am not sure how this would work with our footwork. If we take a simple sequence: 2x Left Bow Arrow with right punch, followed by 1x right bow arrow with right punch, you would have to punch before completing the last bow arrow. Maybe using a 4/6th stance. Thus your fist would be earlier that whan your opponent expects. Not sure how well this would work.

    The idea of breaking the rythm however sounds interesting... but instead of breaking the footwork, why not simply switch the pattern (with a stance that works) - this might be an even greater surprise.

    Maybe some have some practical experience of how to apply broken footwork?
    Last edited by Andrea; 23rd May 2017 at 10:06 PM.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Long Beach, California
    I'm not sure about broken timing on footwork, but I've been shown that there can be broken rhythm or timing on handwork for that same reason that Sije Andreas mentioned, confusing and surprising the opponent, subverting your opponent's reactions. For example, Strike at throat with left horizontal sweep a thousand armies, they counter by getting their left arm up in front of their neck, you can claw from that contact and yoink their left arm down simultaneously striking with a right hand chop hua mountain and immediately follow through with another tame/strike from the left. Bam...Bambam... Continuous cannons. Pressing footwork.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Florida, USA
    I don't have much experience purposefully using broken rhythm in kung fu (mainly just unexpected angles thanks to Baguazhang), but back when I did fencing (mainly foil), I happened on the idea of changing the rhythm of my footwork. Instead of advancing in a steady one-two-three beat before delivering a lunge, I might advance one-two and then explode with the lunge before the third beat. A similar principle might be done with wrist and handwork: my typical attack was a disengage (a straight thrust with a spiral towards the end to sneak around the opponent's hilt). By changing at what point during the lunge I changed the line or performed the spiral of the disengage, I could disrupt my opponent's timing and reflexes.

    Inside of kung fu, the main thing I've changed in terms of rhythm is at what point that I might manifest or explode my force. Some times I'll begin manifesting force right away, going from the back leg, through the waist, and manifesting at the hand (or fingers, elbow, shoulder, etc.) Other times I'll deliver an "empty" palm to my opponent's body and then, just as I make contact, then manifest force. Other times I just fill the entire arm with internal force and swing the whole thing at them, ala Second Brother Chops Firewood, hahaha.

    Sorry I couldn't offer more on footwork, but maybe this can stimulate some discussion.
    I like making silly videos (including kung fu ones!) every so often on YouTube and taking pictures of weird things on Instagram.

  5. #5
    Grimlock's Avatar
    Grimlock is offline Sifu Chris Didyk - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam USA
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
    I don't know about "broken footwork" (maybe that's a strange translation of something we have a different term for?), but I can speak a bit to what Andrea mentioned.

    This idea of striking at unexpected points during movement was one of my takeaways from learning Drunken 8 Immortals. (The picture series may be a handy reference for what follows.) The pattern that most obviously shows it is "Drunken Strike Golden Branches", but it's there throughout the set if you look a bit closer. For instance, "Dodging with Phoenix Eye" has you taking unorthodox stumbling/stutter steps that can disguise the timing of your strike. A number of other patterns have you intentionally going a bit out of form to strike, which has a similar effect. Or take a pattern like "Lift Pot, Offer Wine". Instead of using more traditional footwork to press when your opponent backs a bit out of range of your strike too early, you can adjust to "Lift Pot, Offer Wine" to give you more reach in your strike and at a point that is surprising, timing-wise. Finally, many of the patterns lend themselves to surprise counters or "marvelous" instantaneous change. One example, you go to step forward with your back foot from bow-arrow stance but your opponent uses a surprise counter to catch you coming in, so you instantaneously change to "Drunken Look at Heaven" to avoid the counter and land a surprise counter kick of your own.

    Perhaps someone with deeper experience practicing Drunken 8 Immortals can comment further.
    Chris Didyk
    Shaolin Wahnam USA

    Thank You.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    In friendly sparring, my co-worker is almost my match. He can usually block flurries of my fastest strikes with the best of them. That changes when for the final strike I pause for a moment on the retract before he stutters for a moment in his eagerness to defend & I take of advantage of the opening from his uncertainty to land a sucessful strike by simply pausing or slowing down. "Starting later but arriving earlier", "tempt the opponent to attack unsuccessfully, strike decisively with a single blow", as well as "near enough to strike but far enough to be safe". Similarly in footwork think of sequence one but instead of using single tiger -> black tiger to defend and then counter strike with a black tiger of your own. You defend and counter strike in half the time, simply sink down & back in your horse stance from your poise pattern while guarding with your rear hand & striking out simultaneously with your lead Fist in precious duck swims through lotus. I've been watching a lot of lost track art and they seem to use a lot of stomp kicks and steps similar to xing yi or Lohan fist in the manner the sudden stomps can be decisive, inconspicuous & distractingly noisy attacks.


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