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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:45 am 
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I got in to a debate: heel to toe walking vs toe to heel walking. Obviously the "on toes" thing is all the rage lately... I was arguing that shoes have ruined our gates (as has been the rage for the past 10 years or so to argue). Now toes are also a clear advantage for athletic endeavors, as we all know. Caught on your heels is an expression for a reason. My non-citable evidence for walking or running is that if you try to walk outside barefoot, you very quickly learn not to walk on your heels. Because it hurts if you step on something sharp with your heel first, with a toe (ball of your foot) you feel it and avoid it.

This lead to the inevitable Google-fest. And we both came up with citations for both, as would be expected for Google. NEJM as far as I could find, only stressed that shoes were bad, not what is proper. Is there a definitive answer? We are all being athletic barefoot for at least 6 hours a week or so, so it seems relevant!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:08 pm 
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I think it's important in a situation like this to realize that there's no "right" answer. Sometimes it's appropriate to heel-toe, as when we're running. In my past I've run competitively. I couldn't imagine being competitive running any other way but heel-toe.

Oh... and in high school, I ran cross country barefoot.

Dress shoes will narrow your option in the whole heel-toe vs. toe-heel choice. That said, one needs to learn to walk as you should walk in a self-defense situation with shoes on - because that's the way you'll be when the poo hits the rotating propeller. So whatever you choose to do, you have to make it work in that venue.

For what it's worth... the worst thing I ever did for my feet/ankles/toes is wear boots for several years. At one time they were all the rage, and it was useful wearing boots when I rode a motorcycle. But with the ankle pretty much securely locked, the muscles controlling my foot slowly atrophied. It took years to get things back in balance.

I say practice walking both ways. Variety is good.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:15 pm 
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You ran barefoot on your heels? Impressive. And also trusting... that you wouldn't find any broken bottles. 8O


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:24 pm 
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I ran barefoot for - and was voted captain of - my Hampton Roads Academy cross country team. The ground around this end of Newport News was a special brand of clay, laced with oyster shells.* It's testament to the earth at one time having a much warmer climate where even whales traveled this far "inland." (Yes, Virginia, the earth has climate cycles.) I still have lots of fossilized whale bone and sharks' teeth from nearby banks of the James River. Actually those banks were farther inland, near Williamsburg.

That said... our course was often muddy. And that gave plenty of opportunity for these oyster shells to slice into the bottom of the feet. Whether it's ball of foot or heel pad, those shells cut. It really matters not what part of the foot contacts the most. The shearing will happen.

Mycitracin was my friend. :-) These days it's Neosporin, or - my favorite - Polysporin.

- Bill

* Hampton Roads Academy is on Oyster Point Road in Newport News. The road name is no coincidence.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:38 am 
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TSDguy

I thought you might like this video. Very interesting...

Running Analysis of Heel Strike versus Forefoot Strike (Same runner, 2 weeks apart)

Be very careful about the language used. The outcome of the program is not to get the person to switch from heel running to ball-of-foot running. Rather the runner is doing two things:

1) Landing with the leg flexed on each foot plant rather than extended, thus cushioning the impact and triggering a whole host of dynamic stretch reflexes, and

2) Spreading the point of contact across the entire foot, while allowing the arch to flex a bit on contact.

Anyhow... very interesting stuff.

It's worth mentioning that years after I quit running competitively, I developed a style a bit more like this. I found it much easier on my joints. I wasn't so concerned about racing though.

More later.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:53 am 
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You've probably heard of Usain Bolt... ;-)

Usain Bolt running technique

His heels barely touch the ground - if at all. He obviously has very strong calf muscles.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:10 am 
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One more comment...

When it comes to martial movement, I've picked up and now teach a toe/ball-of-foot/heel contact sequence in movement. I start with Sanchin and continue on all the way through Sanseiryu both in how I practice and what I expect of my students.

In the martial context, this kind of stepping is important. First of all, it's much easier to feel the space in front of you this way. So when you end up fighting on wet grass or a bar with beer spilled on the floor and things scattered about, your footwork is less likely to betray you.

I'd like to comment that I've noted a disturbing number of martial artists from Okinawa who do not practice this kind of footwork in Sanseiryu. This can clearly be seen in kata video. And I'm talking people I respect a lot. Really... they should know better.

It's also worth mentioning that many of the Chinese soft styles like taiji and bagua do heel-to-toe stepping. But that's a whole other ball of wax. I choose not to practice these styles because it messes with my trained instincts. But if you started that way, I guess you can make it work.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:43 am 
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'On toes' always worked for Michael Jackson! :D

Image

Image

He certainly knew how to protect the groin. And I prefer Michael's stance in that second picture to this guy's, which seems just as susceptible to be pushed off-balance backwards as someone who is on his heels...

Image

...although admittedly he is performing a technique and not stepping.

Serious question though, is heel-to-toe walking such as in taiqi less susceptible to being swept compared to toe-to-heel walking?

Image

I am concerned about the locked front knees though, which would make nice targets.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:07 pm 
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We have to be careful about taking pictures off the internet and assuming that which we see is "good technique." I don't know about the locked knee of Mr. Sleeveless Bald Guy. Maybe he's just not a good martial artist. I don't see the same locked knees in all practitioners to the right. Also... there's no weight on that front leg, Glenn.

The other thing worth mentioning is context. When we see a stance, the average person thinks toe-to-toe. Meanwhile the superior fighter is often going around and under the opponent. That's especially true in the Big Three soft styles of China. One doesn't put oneself in a position to meet force with force.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:31 pm 
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On my "lower body days" in the weight room, I have a number of different foundation exercises I do. One of them I've spent more time on recently is walking lunges. Squats are the staple for most athletes. However over time the athlete with the competitive mindset get concerned about the accumulation of compression on spinal discs and knees. Variety then becomes the spice of life and health. Walking lunges adds in an element of balance. And since it involves "squatting" with one leg at a time. You can only do half as much weight at most. This then is a bit easier on the lumbar region of the spine.

I have pretty much done heel-to-toe on my stepping. The best way to get a good glutes workout is to step as long as possible, and that almost dictates the need to contact first with the heel. However just for grins last Thursday I tried very hard to contact first with the toe when stepping forward. While I couldn't step as far and it really challenged my balance, I did find it to be an interesting "alternate" way to do this exercise. In fact in doing it this way, one engages the calf muscle (a little) in a way that's almost impossible with the heel-to-toe stepping.

Variety is good.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:15 pm 
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What, you're saying people would post pictures that do not show good technique?!?! Say it isn't so!!! :D
Finding ideal pictures (good technique or not) is a challenge in and of itself, for example while I think those taiji players are stepping they could be performing the roll-back technique. Locking the front knee during the step is a common problem in taiji I've seen, the very nature of taiji stepping by reaching out with the foot and landing heel first can force the knee to lock particularly if reaching out too far with the foot. A lot of taiji training is not meant to be martial however so it is likely irrelevant.

But what about my question on whether there is a difference in sweeping susceptibility between toe-to-heel and heel-to-toe stepping? To me it does not seem like there would be but I figure if anyone has concrete info on this you would.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:24 pm 
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Glenn wrote:
But what about my question on whether there is a difference in sweeping susceptibility between toe-to-heel and heel-to-toe stepping? To me it does not seem like there would be but I figure if anyone has concrete info on this you would.


It depends on a lot of things, Glenn.

Sweeping is easier when you can get more than 50 percent of the body weight on the opponent's front leg. The perfect window of time for this is in a grabbing situation where you get your opponent to push off the front leg (setting it up beautifully for you) or when they are stepping forward and inappropriately "fall on" the planted leg. Perfect responses to sweep involve attacking the grabbing attacker (I could show you...) and/or lifting the front leg (a la crane) - especially when not grabbed.

Mostly you don't want to put yourself in a position of being swept. Contact fighters like the southern Chinese folks understand this. Once you touch, you are *capable* of reading the opponent's intent before the technique is executed, and can respond accordingly.

Taichi is unique in having stances that put 70 percent of the weight on the front leg. While this may appear to make them especially vulnerable, my sense is that this stance isn't employed unless your opponent is already off balance and vulnerable.

Deeper stances also make one especially vulnerable to being swept, as it takes longer to transition the center to the back leg. In Uechi these deep stances are only used transitionally. Uechi sport fighters employ them when "at a distance" so they can cover ground faster.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:37 pm 
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there's a lot about standing and stance that folks don't know
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLJkBFkghbc&feature=plcp


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:14 pm 
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Hey guys, it's been awhile.
Regarding the picture, if it's a Tai Chi class, and if it's Yang it could be the ending position of Lift Hands to the Up Posture (the tai chi naming guy was having an off day with that one) which is somewhat of a reversed Play the Pipa. But neither is really a step but represents several leg techniques.

I'm a toe to heel guy and had that drilled into me with by walking a log blind folded and also learning how to walk through a woods silently. When I was learning Tai Chi I had a hard time with what I thought was heel to toe walking but really I was having trouble with the weight shifting in the movements. Lots of push hands fixed that.

Just my 1.5 cents.

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=iW2YSwGD ... W2YSwGDTFA

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Last edited by MikeK on Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:07 pm 
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Hi
Mike. sometimes the stuff we see is wrong because we have the wrong paradigm, now i'm not sure on any of this stuff, but I know enough to know that I don't know.lol ...there is lots of theory, based on application which doesn't come into the mainstream and we just get glimpses of it, kata is a lot deeper than we think but only because it shows simple moves, and principle applied to application


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