I have been instructed to do short* steps. This is intended to provide agility in close quarters. When changing the direction of travel rapidly - for example from advancing to retreating - I have observed two approaches work reasonably well:
- always contact the ground with the toes first; for quick steps the heel doesn't even hit the ground
- at the moment of rapid change of direction, strike the ground with the heel as to transfer maximum momentum onto it.
Number 2. sounds suspiciously like a bad practice. Is it?
I feel this is going to take some years to resolve. Terrain is possibly the king. On floor tiles with heavy-duty hiking boots it's trivial to plant the heel. Not so much when barefoot over broken glass.
Contemplating the issue: heel planting produces more rapid response than toe stepping. Has tons of disadvantages but provides really rapid short steps useful for sport fencing; parrying a knife or whatever; even getting behind someone's back.
* - distance from heel of leading leg to toes of trailing leg shorter than one foot