A medieval child learns to spar from the day he can pick up a stick. He needs no instructor or manual to learn how his body works.
If I’ve learned anything in the last decade it is that one can’t learn footwork from scripted drills. You have to get out their and move your body around.
I used to have problems with footwork because I tried to follow all of the rules taught in drills like “never cross your feet” or “always point your toe at your enemy”. Once I stopped listening to my instructors and started listening to my body all my problems evaporated.
And then, only then, did I start seeing the footwork in the manuals. They do cross their feet, they do point their toes this way and that. Footwork is all about being comfortable in your body, not trying to force your body into proscribed positions. And you can’t do that if you don’t get out there and just move. If you haven’t broken a sweat in the first ten minutes of practice you might as well go sit on a couch.