Posted by on March 8, 2021

Terrain. A tract of land esp. as regarded by the physical geographer or the military tactician.  

Footwork. The use of the feet esp. skilfully, in sports, dancing etc.  

Years ago, I saw two men fight outside a bar. It was winter, they were on the sidewalk, throwing punches, some landing and others missing. One of the fighters missed a punch, slipped, lost his balance, and fell forward hard, face first, on the sidewalk. At that moment, the fight was over.  

I do not know what the outcome would have been if he had not slipped. They seemed evenly matched. I do know the “winning blow” was not by his opponent but by the slippery terrain that caused his fall.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we began offering our classes outside at a nearby park. We had trained outside before but in 2020-2021 we trained outside during all four seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter. This experience offered many learning opportunities and highlighted things we all need to work on.  

One of these is footwork.

Our training location, Eglinton Park, offers a variety of terrain – paved paths, grass, sand, gravel, mud, ice, and snow. Some areas are even, others are sloped. Changing seasons also means we wear different footwear from season to season.  

During our spring and early fall sessions, we could readily step and burst in various directions, our shoes easily gripping the ground. In areas where there was gravel, we had to take extra care to make sure we had proper spacing between our feet and were not leaning too much forward or back. Training on uneven ground and hills required us to adapt even more.  Rain, snow, and ice brought some humbling lessons. Bursting forward off the line of attack was far more difficult in the mud and snow. Accordingly, body defenses were more difficult, forcing us to refine our hand and leg defenses. Sometimes, it meant immediate escape was not feasible.  

We also discovered how challenging it is to kick in the mud and snow. In some instances, kicks were not effective. When we could kick, we were reminded to quickly recoil to gain some semblance of stable footing. Otherwise, we were way off balance and sometimes on the ground (an opportunity to work on break falls)

Overall, training outside forced us to improve our footwork. 

The incentive – not falling on the ground – proved, how does one say? – effective.  

Training outside is not everyone’s “cup of tea” (we didn’t break any attendance records) but the lessons are invaluable.  


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