Saturday, 14 May 2011

Technique- Kicking

video

The legs, usually very strong compared to the arms, make excellent long range weapons. Every martial art recoginses this fact and had developed kicking techniques that we recognise in all of them. Although many kicking techniques- and variations of those kicks exist I have only picked the most basic kicks for this discussion. The kicks seen in the video are also the kicks that each beginner should be practicing without fail. When these kicks are mastered, other kicks will come much easier.

The video starts off with three basic front foot kicks. I regard these as the jabs of kicking although, being kicks, correct technique will make them much more dangerous. The following should be noted in the execution of these techniques:

1. Stance, Stance, Stance:  The very same stances (in this case horse and crane stance) apply throughout the execution of the technique, with the heels of the feet are firmly on the ground and tension is maintained in the legs, knees pushing away from each other. When the kicking leg is raised it is light and charged with energy. It is relatively relaxed. The supporting leg is held firm, although slightly bent to maintain balance. The upper body does not move. The shoulders remain relaxed and the eyes keep facing the opponent throughout the kick. The stillness of the upper body is important while most of the work is done by the lower body.

2.  Use of the hips:  Now I'll get to the reason for posting the photos of Japanese girls showing their groins to their adoring fans. The girl in the top photo is an excellent example. With reverse roundhouse and roundhouse kicks, aiming at the target is not done with the knee of the kicking leg. It is done with the hip. The girl's hip is tilted enough for her to execute a high roundhouse if she wanted to. Being no trained martial artist, however, she has to hold on to the post for support because her supporting leg's knee is locked and her upper body leaning to far back. If she had bent the supporting leg more, kept her kicking leg in position with her side abdominal muscles, which would also prevent her upper body from falling backwards, we would see her being able to keep her hip tilted like that and her leg in the air without the need for support by a wall or a post!

The side kick relies on the hips to generate the sharp thrusting power. An excellent example is foung in Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon. In one of the scenes Lee canonates a person across the floor using a side kick. When practicing any straight kick follow this rule: foot directly below knee, knee behind hip, hip behind leg, leg behind heel. The reason for the knee being directly above the foot is that being too far forward will cause the body to topple forward into the kick, sending you off balance into- possibly- counterattack. The knee being too far back means the kicking the opponent will not send him flying, but will rather send you flying back!

The next three kicks shown are the rear foot kicks, known to be more powerful. Exponents of Taekwondo argue that these kicks are too slow to use in a fight. I say it will be too slow if you do not correctly execute the technique. The requirements to the stance and to the use of the hips also apply to these kicks. I'll just elaborate more on the basic principles that apply to the performance of these kicks:

The Front Kick. The version of this kick I prefer strikes the target with the heel, although the toes are not pulled back hard. The reason for this is that tension in the foot before the kick slows it down and robs it of expolsive power. Performed by shooting the heel into the target a lot of force gets transferred through a hard area of the foot into the target. With the legs maintaining the same tension and using the bow stance (which requires tension in the buttocks) the kicking foot wastes no time shooting out of its resting place into its target. Here the hips push and the front abdominal muscles pull the kicking leg forward.

Roundhouse Kick. The front foot version raises the leg (using the hip) to hit a high target and as soon as the knee is pointed at the target the foot snaps out like a whip, striking with the instep. The rear foot version is more powerfull. The kicking foot, pulled forward by the abdominal muscles and swung forward by the hips, gets flung at the target. Force gets transferred from the supporting foot into the hips, causing the rotation. From the hips the force travels through the kicking leg as it snaps into the target with all that momentum. Do this right against an opponent's leg (just not the kneecap) and he will be knocked off balance! The leg kick uses the shin, by the way.

Back Kick. First and foremost and before I begin explaining this technique let me say this clearly: I don't give a f*ck how the kicking foot is rotated and there is no such f*cking thing as a spinning side kick. If you heard that from your Sensei I assure you he himself does not even know where it comes from. In Taekwondo the kicking foot is allowed to turn horizontal and I still do not want to receive a kick like that. Now- on to the technique: The feet turn the legs. The legs turn the hips and the hips turn the upper body and -voila!-Your back is turned to your opponent. Now the kicking foot shoots from its resting place and driven on by the hips ( actually a lot easier than driving the foot to the front- just don't overdo it.) the lower back's muscles pull the kicking foot to the rear and the heel is shot into the target. All this in one fluid movement creates the most destructive of these six kicks.
Further the rule that applies to all straight kicks also applies here.

Well now we have dealt with strikes, grabs, punches and kicks. What next? Throws. I'll tell you more about that in our next post.  


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