Boxing footwork (and how it can be used for other Martial Arts)

Footwork is the boxers foundation for setting up jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts. There are various ways to modify these basic punches using the boxer’s footwork to adapt to any given situation.  Is it possible to adapt the footwork used in boxing to other styles of Martial Arts?  How can you modify it to benefit your Muay Thai or Karate techniques? What parts of boxing footwork can we incorporate into MMA?  Can you use the same footwork in boxing for a BJJ match before it hits the ground? These are all questions that we will be answering in this article.


Why is footwork important for boxing?

Boxers use footwork to create a solid foundation for their punches.  They drive the force from their feet, through their hips, the torso then eventually through the arm.  This dynamic movement requires lots of stabilization and balance.  A boxers footwork also offers a safe method for fighters to create and close distance. It also allows them to move to different angles and manage the weight transfer while dishing and absorbing incoming punches.

What are the different types of footwork in boxing?

Boxing footwork can be broken down into 3 basic elements:

  • Stance – the way you stand in your fight ready position
  • Movement – the travel and angle that your feet move when changing the position of your body
  • Stabilisation – the way your feet hold you while executing offensive and defensive techniques.

Understanding the different types of footwork used in boxing can help you identify the opportunities to effectively use it in different martial arts.  


Boxing movement for Muay Thai


The leg kick is notorious for being the boxer’s kryptonite. Adopting a boxing stance in a Muay Thai fight then, could spell disaster.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t adopt the boxers footwork to move around the ring though.  The basic box step is one of the footwork drills for boxing that can be practiced and utilised to improve your position and find new angles in any combat situation.  This is especially useful in Muay Thai, provided that you reset back to your Muay Thai stance once stationary again.  When moving in any direction, ensure that the foot closest to the direction you are moving steps first.  As soon as the first foot steps the other foot pushes.  Each step shouldn’t be so big that you find yourself off balance. You should also try to keep as close to your fight stance as possible.  A couple of strengths that Boxing movement can offer are the lateral steps and pivots which can offer new angles to fire off Muay Thai kicks from.  Keep in mind however that when practicing footwork drills for boxing movement, it is a good idea to incorporate Muay Thai techniques to keep it relevant to your sport.

Boxing punches for MMA


The way MMA fighters move around the ring or cage in MMA has been heavily influenced by boxing movement.  It makes sense then to further incorporate the punching techniques as well.  With the threat of leg kicks being countered by takedowns, MMA athletes can adopt the punching techniques from Boxing that exploit the stabilizing of their punches with both feet.  This stabilization from the boxing footwork can afford the fighter to sit down more on their punches.  What does this mean? Basically, it means they can drive more power through the ground with well balanced heavier shots.  This stabilization can also keep the fighter better balanced.  A better balanced fighter shortens their time out of their fight stance, allowing them to quickly execute the next technique. Be careful adopting the boxers stance too closely though, as exposing the front leg in a bladed boxer’s stance can risk being targeted by the wrestlers of the MMA world. 


Boxers footwork for BJJ


Believe it or not, there are many ways you can incorporate your Boxing techniques into your BJJ game.  Boxing head movement can be handy for avoiding collar ties or lapel grips.  Boxing parries can be useful for swatting away your opponent’s grip attempts.  But how can a boxers footwork be incorporated into BJJ?  The answer is simple.  Distance.  Boxers are renowned for closing and creating distance with blistering fast pace.  This distance management can be used in BJJ to get out of range using their footwork to avoid grip attempts and takedowns.  Once out of range BJJ players can spring back into range using the same footwork to establish their own grips or attempt a takedown of their own.  Utilizing footwork drills for boxing like skipping or ladder drills can be the advantage needed for a BJJ player to start the match 2 points up with an early takedown. 

Final thoughts


While there are several different stances that boxers can take, none of them account for strikes below the body, trips or takedowns.  It doesn’t mean however that all footwork for boxing can’t be used.  Finding the correct type of footwork from boxing into your chosen martial art will take some time.  It is important to trial the different elements of boxing footwork before adopting the useful parts and discarding the components that aren’t.  Keeping that in mind, successfully incorporating the smallest footwork details into your chosen martial art can pay off in a big way!