Would there be any use for the split-step or the principles it uses in martial arts or self-defense? Is anything like that utilized in martial arts or self-defense?

2 Answers 2


Assuming you mean something like the tennis split step, this is not going to help you fight/spar. When someone attacks, there is not enough time to split step into a better stance. From your basic stance you need to be able to react in multiple directions already. Start from this stance.

In tennis you can predict what will happen and you have space. Your opponent has to strike the ball with their racquet. You know where the ball is, how it is moving, and when the ball will be struck. The net means your opponent can never get close to you.

When you are fighting, your opponent can close distance to the point where you will not be able to react to an attack. You have to maintain distance or take initiative to engage yourself. You cannot rely on being able to take two steps to avoid being hit.

  • What about during a scenario where someone attacks you while you’re looking at your iPhone or someone asks you for a light and then suddenly attacks you by surprise. I wonder if that would also be too late to use split step? It looks in this video more like slightly bouncing. Bruce Lee used what I would describe as rhythmic bouncing in his fight scene with Chuck Norris in Return of the Dragon, also called Way if the Dragon. Is that known to be effective in a real fight to defend oneself?
    – daniel
    Nov 3, 2023 at 3:51
  • Yes, it's too late. If someone attacks you while you are using your phone, you probably will not get to step before they get you.
    – mattm
    Nov 4, 2023 at 3:56
  • Yeah. That makes sense.
    – daniel
    Nov 4, 2023 at 14:24

If I'm not mistaken, this is what we call "bouncing" in our school. You maintain balance on the balls of your feet, with upward motions, keeping your balance. Your feet shouldn't leave the ground while doing this; the point is to be ready to react to your opponent, staying balanced and ready to move how you ought to move.

This is tae kwon do, and we use it in sparring. I doubt it could be used in self-defense, since if you have advance warning someone is going to attack you, you probably have other things you can do (like running away). Self-defense is more about reacting to an attack.

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