The stepping patterns introduced in this belt deal with remaining at a neutral distance from your opponent. Using a pattern will place you in a different position, but at roughly the same distance 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 moving opponent. Consider different strategies that an attacker might utilize and how each pattern may or may not aid you in dealing with that attack.
You might also wish to compare and contrast these movement patterns with the escaping patterns you practiced earlier. You will likely 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 any pattern can be used for a different purpose (for example, an escaping pattern might be a neutral pattern if your opponent turns directly toward you as they move) than what was originally discussed. As you progress in your training try to develop a sense of what might or might not be a beneficial movement in a given situation. Try to remain conscious of this when working with others to develop an intuitive sense of when and where to move in a given circumstance. It takes a great deal of 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 bare handed 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 if any of the differences that you detect are justifiable.