Moonwalking (travelling with both feet flat on the ground at all times) is a very useful, advanced practice in martial arts; whereby one adjusts to compliment the position of their opponent, without leaning to any side at any time, and without compromising the stability of having two anchors (feet on the ground) at all times.
Running & Walking
Walking races are judged on the basis of always having at least one foot on the ground. If you ever jump, whereby both feet are off the ground for a fraction of a second, then it’s running, and you’d be disqualified from a strict walking race.
Walking & Moonwalking
If moonwalking is similarly defined by traveling with both feet on the ground at all times, then this is actually the first thing practiced (the opening of Yi Ji Kim Yeung Ma) in the first form (Siu Nim Tao) of Wing Chun Kung Fu, as practiced by about a million people around the world.
The opening of the basic, neutral, Wing Chun stance (Yi Ji Kim Yeung Ma / Yee Gee Keem Yeung Ma…etc) in the first form (Siu Nim Tao / Sil Lim Tao…etc, “the little idea”) is essentially an efficient way of practicing the bare necessities of the moonwalk.
Why is this such an essential part of martial arts?
How is the moonwalk ideal for martial arts? Well, the moment you lift one foot off the ground, you could be pushed, and you’re likely to stumble. Similarly, if you have one foot off the ground and you want to instantly punch or kick, you may need to wait until you drop your second foot before you have the ability to strike with the strength of the earth beneath your feet. Every force has an equal, opposite reaction; and if you push something hard, you’ll find yourself being pushed back just as hard.
But if you walk with both feet always on the ground, and both legs bent to the ideal angles at all times, and the back always straight, and the posture always generally ideal for martial arts… Then you can strike or block, push or pull, punch or kick, spin or flick, in an instant with maximum stability, without first needing to reposition, chamber or telegraph your move.
How the Shaolin practiced the Sideslide Moonwalk
The sliding open of a neutral martial arts stance, from feet together to feet apart, for example as is done in Wing Chun Kung Fu, is an efficient way of practicing the bare necessities of the moonwalk.
From an upright stance, bend the knees, turn the knees & toes out 45 degrees, then turn the heels out until the feet & legs are slightly triangulated, pointing forwards.
Try to keep both feet completely flat on the ground at all times. Most people, teachers included, are quite rusty at this, and can be seen lifting toes and heels, bobbing up and down, and wobbling a bit.
This is the very first part of the very first form of Wing Chun Kung Fu, as developed by Shaolin Nun, Ng Mui, and passed on for generations, to reach Yip Man, and then Bruce Lee. This is how kung fu grandmasters since Shaolin days have been practicing knee bending, leg-angling & foot-sliding, the bare necessities of the moonwalk, especially the sideslide. The remaining major component of the backslide moonwalk is practiced in Wing Chun’s second form, Chum Kiu (watch this space for evidence, coming soon).