Wednesday, April 08, 2009

How is stepping faster than falling?

We usually emphasize falling out of the way as the best way to evade off the line of attack, but it turns out that walking over the hill, as I covered in a previous post, is actually faster and more efficient than falling out of the way. Consider this...
When you fall out of the way, you collapse a leg (let's say the right one) and you begin to fall to the right. Then you put your right leg back down under you and draw your left leg under you. In stepping over the hill, you stick a weightbearing leg and as your momentum is carrying you upward onto that leg, you step across with the free leg.
About the shortest unit of movement that is worth discussing much is a half a gait cycle, during which you have moved a foot and shifted weight over it but haven't yet moved the other foot. If you look at both types of evasion, you find that by ½ a gait cycle into the evasion, the falling step has only moved you partially out of the way. Your trailing leg is still in the way. The over-the-hill step, though, has moved you completely out of the way within a half gait cycle. So, the over-the-hill step is nearly twice as fast/efficient as the falling step.
This speed/efficiency advantage serves as a good justification (but not the only good one) for starting the first two wrist releases the way we do (stepping over the hill) instead of starting them the way that feels natural for nearly all beginners (falling out of the way).
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