While techniques – in their various forms, including stand-up ones – are covered extensively in BJJ training sessions, very little attention is given to actual footwork. This is something that deserves much more attention, especially when considering the implications that your footwork could have on your game’s success!
Alec Baulding, an Alliance black belt and 2019 ADCC qualifier and Trials champion, explains how you can improve your footwork – by moving like a wrestler.
CHANGE YOUR LEVEL
Alec explains that the footwork will be drilled from a situation where your training partner is trying to set up a Collar Tie.
The drill starts off with Alec leaning on his left leg and with his training partner mirroring him, by leaning on his right leg. Then, Alec changes his level by half-squatting.
Why does he do this? He explains that it’s because when you’re too upright, you’ll be too slow; just imagine yourself trying to sprint with a totally upright posture… Pretty impossible, right? Sprinting, doing things quickly in sports in general, often demands that an athlete lowers their posture.
Also, once you change your level, stay there. Alec emphasizes that you shouldn’t go low and then pop back up; instead, stay at the level on which you’re at.
THE WRESTLER FOOTWORK: OPTION ONE
Next, Alec explains the first footwork option: as one of his legs is upfront and his other leg is in the back, Alec’s lead leg steps to the side, with his back leg following it.
This is a basic movement that you can drill in any way you choose and it’s the best way to move fast while preserving a good stance, Alec elaborates.
One thing that you need to pay attention to, Alec points out, is to not place your back leg parallel to your lead leg once it has followed it. You want to keep in mind that you want one of your legs behind at all times. Also, be sure to make decisive steps and to watch out not to be light on your feet.
So, as his training partner goes to set up the Collar Tie (with the hand which is on the same side as his leading leg), Alec combines the level change with footwork in order to slip.
He also points out an important detail: when you drill this, make sure to keep keep your eyes on your opponent at all times! Looking at the ground while training or competing in standup is a mistake that many beginners make. You wouldn’t look into the ground when you want to punch someone, so why would you do that when you want to take them down?
THE WRESTLER FOOTWORK: OPTION TWO
While the first option is easier to use when you want to move in multiple directions, the second option for footwork, Alec explains, is often used for the purpose of explosively moving forward or to the side – when you need to cover a lot of distance in one direction.
In this case, the back leg goes first (near the lead leg) and the lead one follows. Your level needs to stay low, your back straight and your eyes looking forward at your opponent.
To drill this, Alec shows that you can have your training partner try and set up a Collar Tie, just as in the previous case, while you try to slip it by using the mentioned footwork. To get to the best of your abilities, though, mix drilling these two footwork options – and you will see improvements in no time!
Watch the video below to see Alec explaining and demonstrating footwork options in detail:
Fundamental Folkstyle Wrestling by Adam Wheeler.
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