Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Watch the Feet

When facing a potential threat there are several things we need to be visually aware of. What are their hands doing? Does it look like they are working in conjunction with others? We’re looking to see where our route for escape is, and what objects can be used for cover. Where are my family or friends? And most importantly, we need to be aware of what the feet of our possible threat are doing. Why the feet? Because the majority of our communication is non-verbal, and the feet tell more about what someone is thinking than any other part of our body.

This is nothing new. Athletes have know that watching the feet is the key to knowing what direction their opponent is about to go. The majority of us will actually reposition our feet, subconsciously without even knowing it, when we decide to move. For example if you’re talking to someone and they move their feet towards the exit then you know they’re finished talking and are ready to move on.

When dealing with a possible threat this means they will reposition their feet in preparation of whatever their plan is, whether it’s to escape, root to the ground ready to fight, or aggressively advancing towards you in an attack. Unless you’re dealing with someone who is really good, and remember there are plenty of them out there.

If you don’t believe this just start paying attention to peoples’ feet; watch people on during firearms training/practice and you’ll get a really good example of this process. When I have the students line up on the range their feet are moving normally, walking to that persons’ destination. When I tell them to protect their eyes and ears their feet will reposition, preparing for what the mind knows is coming next. As I have them draw their weapons to load and make ready they change their stance. When drawing to fire everyone repositions their feet into their fighting stance. When I inform them they’ll be moving right, left, or to the rear you’ll see this register in their feet first. You’ll even see folks actually look down to “see” if their feet are positioned properly, as opposed to “feeling” if they are in the right location. When the conscious mind has to visually check to confirm what the subconscious mind and body have already done this is very telling.

As with most things concerning fighting there are two sides to this feet thing. First, you need to pay attention and start learning to speak “feet” so you can listen to what the threat is telling you. Second, you need to be aware of what your feet may be telling others. Ideally you should be able to go from your normal “standing here and everything is cool” stance into an “I’m ready to fight” stance without wasted motion or telegraphing your intentions.

“It is essential,” Musashi advises in The Book of Fire Rings, “to make the everyday stance the combat stance and the combat stance the everyday stance.” This is as true for firearms as it is for any martial art.


September 19, 2010 - Posted by | General Training

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