The stepping patterns introduced in this belt deal with remaining at a neutral distance from your opponent. Using any of the Neutral Stepping Patterns below will place you in a new position, but at the same approximate distance from your opponent as before you moved. This can be useful if you wish to stay out of the range of an opponent (or a weapon) or if you wish to move yet stay in close to your opponent. You should explore each movement both from the perspective of a stationary and a moving opponent. Consider the various strategies that an attacker might use and how each pattern may or may not help you deal with that attack.
You might also wish to compare and contrast these movement patterns with the escaping patterns you practiced earlier. You will develop a sense of “getting away” when using the earlier patterns, yet have the sense of “hanging around” when using these Neutral Patterns. Under the right circumstances, you can use any pattern for a novel purpose. For example, an escaping pattern might be a neutral pattern if your opponent turns toward you as they move.
As you progress in your training, try to develop a sense of what might or might not be a beneficial movement in a situation. Try to remain conscious of this when working with others. You ultimately want to develop an intuitive sense of when and where to move in any circumstance. It takes substantial time to develop this skill, but like all skills, the more you practice–the better you become.
Also, practice this skill with partners who are sometimes barehanded and at other times using various weapons. Pay particular attention to timing, angles, movement-speed, distance, and eye focus (both yours and your partner’s) in each situation. Also note any differences in centering, posture, and stance selection. Then ask yourself which of the differences you detect are relevant.