Muhammad Ali was one of boxing’s greatest footwork skill-sets ever on display.
“Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” was the mantra of boxing’s self-proclaimed “The Greatest”. And float he did. The legendary Ali bounced, shuffled, jumped, dashed, slid, pivoted, cut, and ran his way into the boxing hall-of-fame with his graceful footwork. Very few could move as effortlessly and poetically as he did.
But Ali’s footwork was more than just aesthetic flash, there was also substance. Beyond the flowing grace and elegance of his movements, with the incredible balance, power, speed, and stability. Imagine the power of a battleship combined with the precision of a figure-skater. It was indeed repeated again and again that his footwork was the best in history.
What does it take to develop Ali’s amazing footwork?
How were his footwork techniques different from everyone else? And more importantly, how does changing the way you look at footwork change your fighting technique overall?
Muhammad Ali footwork technique
It goes without saying that Muhammad Ali’s boxing footwork was quite different from the average boxer. He was a one-of-a-kind, but he also wasn’t the only one to move that way and certainly not the only one to have that ability. I’ve seen many other fighters move that way, too…even at the amateur level.
I myself had a lot of natural footwork ability but it wasn’t until I had some ballet training that I was able to understand how I did it and to be able to teach others how to do it.
Let’s go over some basic principles behind Ali’s graceful footwork:
STRAIGHTER legs vs BENT legs
The difference, and sometimes very small difference, in these positions impacts greatly on the way you stand and move. In short, your body moves far more effectively and efficiently with straighter legs. The body is simply built this way and it is the way that your body was made to hold itself and to move itself.