Using Jeet Kune Do Footwork to Avoid Getting Punched

The art of Jeet Kune Do created by Bruce Lee integrates all facets of combat. Various styles are borrowed from boxing, fencing, and other types of fighting. But one of the things that makes it truly unique is Jeet Kune Do footwork.

If you want to know how to avoid getting punched and have a better chance of landing your own strikes, proper foot placement will be pivotal to your success. This is where learning about the basic stance and practicing JKD footwork drills come into play.

Basic Jeet Kune Do Stance

By far, the most important step to proper footwork in Jeet Kune Do is knowing where to put your hands, body, and feet to start with. Before moving forward with drills or techniques, take a moment to perfect your JKD stance.

Jeet Kune Do neutral stance

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a step forward with your strong-side foot.
  • Ensure your front toe is lined up with your back heel.
  • Your front foot should be angled at about 25 degrees.
  • Your back foot angled at about 45 degrees.
  • Bend your knees slightly and keep a light spring in your step.
  • Your head should be directly over your pelvis
  • Chin down with your eyes forward looking at your opponent.

t’s important to keep in mind that if your stance is too narrow, it will be much harder to attack with your rear hand or back foot. While on the other hand, with a stance that is too wide, you’ll become a bigger target and easier to hit in the body, face, or groin area. Keep your body at about a 45-degree angle with your opponent as often as possible.

Basic Jeet Kune Do Footwork Drills

Remember that you will never hop in JKD as this can easily make you lose your balance and control. Instead, proper footwork in Jeet Kune Do includes shuffling, stepping, and sliding your feet to find new angles.

All of the JKD drills below will begin from your basic stance.

Lead Step

Among the most simple footwork drills you can practice in JKD, the lead step has three variations: straight, left, and right. Your weight is pushed off your rear foot as you step forward with your lead foot while also throwing a punch.Martial artist using lead step with straight punchStraight lead step:

  • Drive off your back foot, leaving it in place the duration of the move.
  • Step your front foot forward while also throwing a straight punch with your lead hand.
  • Immediately bring your lead foot back to your starting position.

Left lead step:

  • Your opponent throws a straight punch.
  • Slip outside their attack while doing a lead step to the left.
  • Throw a punch with your lead hand at the same time you step, either with a high punch to the face or a low punch to the body.
  • Bring your lead foot back to the starting position.

Right lead step:

  • Your opponent throws a straight punch.
  • Step inside their attack doing a lead step to the right.
  • Throw a punch with your rear hand at the same time you step with a face or body shot.
  • Slide your lead foot back to starting position.

The Shuffle

Also considered a standard head movement, the shuffle is a key type of JKD footwork for you to focus on. These moves allow you to either step away from your opponent when they attack or to step toward them with a counter.

Push Shuffle Back:

  • Your opponent throws a straight punch with either hand.
  • Take a quick step back with your rear foot.
  • Slip your lead foot back at the same time you step back.
  • Lean your head back slightly to avoid a deeper punch.

Push Shuffle Forward:

  • Drop your weight by bending your knees slightly.
  • Lift your lead toe slightly and drive your weight forward from your rear leg.
  • Slide your lead leg forward at the same time.
  • Land heel to toe on the lead foot to stop your forward momentum.

When you are doing the push shuffle forward, you can also throw a quick straight punch or even strike with your elbow at the same time.

Drop Step

Using the drop step is a great way to learn how to avoid getting punched by your opponent’s rear hand. This Jeet Kune Do footwork also includes angling to the side while throwing your own punch as you step out of the way, whether your opponent is striking or not.

  • Drive your weight to your lead foot while stepping your rear leg forward and to the outside.
  • At the same time, throw a straight punch with your lead hand.
  • With the new placement of your rear leg, return to your basic fighting stance with your front leg.

After you throw the first punch during your drop step, you can immediately follow it up with additional strikes such as a cross-hook combo.

Curve Step

The opposite of the drop step is the curve step, where you will now angle around your opponent moving your front leg first.

Practicing Jeet Kune Do footwork at NY Martial Arts Academy

  • Drive off your back foot stepping forward at a 45-degree angle with your front leg to your strong side.
  • Throw a hook, uppercut, or a jab with your lead hand at the same time you are stepping away.
  • Bring your rear leg forward to your regular fighting stance to match the new placement of your front leg.

Open Step

After you’ve practiced the previous moves a few times each, one of the more intermediate JKD footwork drills you can try is the open step. This movement involves moving both feet outward at the same time while also throwing a strike with your lead hand or elbow.

  • As you bring your lead leg back slightly and to the side, drop your weight towards your rear leg.
  • Immediately after, bring your rear leg forward and to the outside of your stance.
  • Throw your punch with the lead hand at the same time as you move the rear leg.
  • As you are throwing the strike with your lead hand, lean your body slightly in the same direction as your rear leg.

Proper Footwork is Critical to Jeet Kune Do

Knowing where to put your feet and when during a fight is going to make the difference and quickly decide who will have the upper hand.

There are many other aspects of effective JKD footwork including:

  • Pendulum
  • Angling
  • Clock Pivot
  • Circling
  • Heel & Toe Sway
  • Rocker Shuffle
  • And more

As you learn these movements, you’ll be able to add strikes and also avoid getting punched or kicked.

Make sure you check out our full class on Jeet Kune Do footwork to learn more about the mechanics and benefits of these steps!

The 5 Most Effective Types of Takedown Defense

If you want to achieve success as a martial artist, you need to improve your takedown defense as a way to avoid being brought to the ground during a fight. When mixed martial arts (MMA) first started, skilled grapplers won many of the first...

Helpful Head Movement Drills for Self Defense

There’s a saying in the martial world that says, “Either you move your head or he’s gonna move it for you.” Effective head movement is used to avoid oncoming attacks and also to set up strong counter moves. It can...

Bruce Lee: The Greatest Martial Artist of All Time

It is widely accepted by fighters and other people around the world that Bruce Lee was the most influential martial artist of all time. From his famous action movies to his unique martial art of Jeet Kune Do, the legend of Bruce Lee has held...

The 3 Benefits of Martial Arts Wellness Programs

Attracting talent to your organization is more difficult now than it has been. With more flexibility favoring employees, you must offer a fully laid out benefits package. This approach may appear costly, but it will help you attract and retain...

A Martial Arts Journey to Health and Fitness

Written By Jessica Militello When Chris Shea first joined New York Martial Arts Academy in 2017, he had just embarked on a serious commitment to revamp his health and fitness habits. Two years later, his determination and discipline to making...

Is Jeet Kune Do the best self-defense for you?

Is Jeet Kune Do the best self-defense for you? By Jessica Militello     In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of the four locations of New York Martial Arts Academy, passersby regularly stop and take out their camera phones to...

Why Every Woman Should Do Martial Arts

Many physical activities from sports to adventure hiking tend to get branded as masculine things to do. This limited perspective ignores the benefits that any person can enjoy from these activities. Martial arts provide many opportunities for...

Why Martial Arts Is the Best Way to Get Fit

You know that martial arts may come with several lifestyle benefits such as disciple and the ability to pay more attention to detail. Did you know, though, that the sport is for more than teaching you how to calmly yet sternly defend yourself? There...

Best Martial Arts For Self Defense

Imagine being attacked. How would you protect yourself? Violence should be avoided, however, some circumstances leave one with no choice. Your body is the only weapon that you’ll have with you at all times. Having the ability and skill to...
Page: 123456 - All

The 5 Most Effective Types of Takedown Defense

If you want to achieve success as a martial artist, you need to improve your takedown defense as a way to avoid being brought to the ground during a fight. When mixed martial arts (MMA) first started, skilled grapplers won many of the first...

Helpful Head Movement Drills for Self Defense

There’s a saying in the martial world that says, “Either you move your head or he’s gonna move it for you.” Effective head movement is used to avoid oncoming attacks and also to set up strong counter moves. It can...

Bruce Lee: The Greatest Martial Artist of All Time

It is widely accepted by fighters and other people around the world that Bruce Lee was the most influential martial artist of all time. From his famous action movies to his unique martial art of Jeet Kune Do, the legend of Bruce Lee has held...

Why Martial Arts Is More Than Just Kicking

  Martial arts was initially seen as combative and puzzling. It was mostly learned and practiced by adults and was chiefly about self-defense. Martial arts has ever since grown from that stage of tiny dirty schools to schools teaching...

Fencing without a foil?

Bruce Lee often called his art of Jeet Kune Do, fencing without a foil.  In this entry we will be discussing what he meant by that statement.   If you take a look at fencing and Jeet Kune Do, you will not a few similarities.  One of...

Finding a Little Bruce Lee in All of Us

A slew of Bruce Lee types, embracing both men and women, could soon be making their way through the streets of New York--but with an added physical dimension; expertise in rough, tough and often savage street fighting.  In brief, those bad...

Doing Your Own JKD Thing

By Cass Magda   JKD has its own identity and follows a design with a purpose. It is a system. A JKD man's movement is definitely different and distinguishable from other martial arts such as Thai kickboxing, wing chun, or karate. The physical...

Getting To The Roots of JKD

By Cass Magda   In the Tao of JKD Bruce Lee said, "I hope that martial artists are more interested in the root of martial arts and not the different decorative branches, flowers or leaves. It is futile to argue as to which single...

Jeet Kune Do: The Way of The "Stopping Fist"

Jeet Kune Do is training and discipline toward the ultimate reality in combat. The ultimate reality is returning to one's primary freedom, which is simple, direct, and nonclassical.  A good Jeet Kune Do man does not oppose force or give way...

Jeet Kune Do's Five Ways Of Attack

1. SDA (Single Direct Attack) A direct attack is composed of a single movement. The objective is to go to the target by the most direct route. Although it is the simplest of the attacks, it is the hardest to complete successfully because the...
We’re offering adult live-streaming classes from 7 pm to 8 pm every Weeknight and Saturday at 12 pm.
Kid's classes are Tuesday and Thursday from 6 pm to 6:30 pm.
Classes are live on YouTube and Instagram