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Whether advancing to confront an aggressor, making a tactical retreat or just walking down the street, footwork is an important part of movement, and movement is crucial to defense in almost any situation.

It’s actually one of the few things the movies actually get right; a fight is not two or more people standing upright and slugging or shooting it out. A real fight contains constant movement. Of course, there is a vast difference to moving in a fight and walking to get the mail.

In any situation there are four basic ways to go: forward, rearward, left or right. Many people are of the belief that forward and rearward are easy, and in many ways they are, but, once again, we’re not talking about a supermarket stroll, nor are we talking about an all-out bug out. We’re talking about moving tactically in a specific direction for a purpose, toward cover, an attacker or whatever. It doesn’t really matter.

In all movement in a self-defense situation, you should have your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. When stepping forward you should step out with the heel first, conducting a heel to toe motion. Moving backwards is exactly opposite. The motion is toe to heel. Moving like this allows your knees to act as shock absorbers, providing for a more steady shot, if needed.

Lateral movement, or side to side, is a little harder, but not that much. The main thing to remember is to never cross your feet when moving to the side. Instead use a shuffle movement that consists of a big step with the lead foot, followed by a smaller step from the rear foot. Regardless of direction the motion is the same. If you’re moving right, take a big step with your right foot, and follow it with a small step with your left foot. Reverse the motion if you’re moving left.

While all this sounds kind of complicated, it’s quite easy with just the least amount of practice, which can be done away from the range, though it is beneficial to add some movement to a shooting routine. The main thing I have to remember, and it is something I got fussed at for doing at Gunsite, is to not drag my feet.

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