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by Thomas Kurz
The errors I write about in this article are those I witnessed during several clinics on stretching and kicking. You can see these errors, and my attempts to correct them, on the DVD Clinic on Stretching and Kicking.
Before I get to the specific kicks, here are a few facts about techniques that you should keep in mind as you practice (or teach):
Good technique is what scores consistently and, in the long run, is easy on the body. Poor technique may score sometimes—when an opponent is careless or significantly less skilled than you—but it is not consistent and thus not reliable. Poor technique may also seem easy in the short run, but in the long run it causes discomfort and eventually an injury, either chronic or sudden.
Good technique is harder to defend against and to counter than is poor technique. Poor technique often hurts the user more than its recipient. Examples: side kicks that result in bruised ankles; roundhouse kicks that sprain the supporting knee or ankle or bruise the ankle of the kicking leg.
Technique, whether good or poor, is formed by an instructor. The instructor is responsible for teaching good technique and for teaching it well. If technique is poor, the instructor is to blame. If you instruct yourself (you are self-taught) and have poor technique, the instructor is to blame.
Now the kicks:
Front Knee Kick—Correct Form
Correct form of the front knee kick (karate’s hiza geri and taekwondo’s murup chagi)
Knee kicks are not used in sports taekwondo, but they are very useful in both self-defense and as a lead-up exercise for such kicks as front kick, side kick, and roundhouse kick.
The most useful and easiest form is the rear leg knee kick, so this is the form to begin with.
— Begin in the front stance, with the kicking leg being the rear leg. (Later, after you master the rear leg kick, you may practice kicking from a parallel stance.)
— Reach with your arms and pull at your imaginary opponent’s neck.
— Drive your knee into this opponent’s face or chest as you pull him or her down. Keep the foot (and toes) of the kicking leg down, so the foot is in line with your shin. The supporting leg is bent; its foot is firmly planted on the ground, from toes to heel.
— Drop the kicking leg down, and repeat with the other leg. Keep kicking, alternating legs, so you fall into a rhythm with no stops between kicks.
Front Knee Kick Errors
1. Weak pull and weak kick.
Causes: Poor imagination, laziness, lack of seriousness about training.
Remedy: For poor imagination—practice strong pull with a partner and only mark the kick. Also work with a soft heavy bag that you can pull into the knee kick. After that it should be easy to see the imaginary opponent, grab, and pull for real.
For the other two causes—laziness and lack of seriousness—point to the door.
2. Pulling up the foot of the kicking leg—this weakens the kick and reduces its reach or target penetration. It may cause jamming of toes into the opponent’s shin—in knee kicks from both a long distance and from a clinch.
Cause: Ignorance or poor control of the leg.
Remedy: To feel the difference in power and penetration of the knee kick with foot down (plantar flexed) versus foot up (dorsiflexed), practice knee kicks into a soft heavy bag or into a shield held by a partner.
For poor control, practice kicking slowly but at the full range of motion, while paying attention to the foot position.
Front Thrust Kick—Correct Form
Correct form of the front thrust kick (karate’s mae geri and taekwondo’s ap chagi)
— Begin in the front stance, with the kicking leg being the rear leg. (It is easier to begin learning the front kick with the rear leg. Later one may practice kicking from a parallel stance or kicking with the front leg in the rear stance.)
— The knee of the supporting leg is slightly bent; the supporting foot is firmly planted on the ground, from toes to heel.
— Raise the knee of the kicking leg above the waist and pull up the toes of the kicking foot. Chin is down and whole torso is arched forward.
— Kick forward and strike your target with the ball of the foot.
— Return the kicking foot to the chamber position and then lower it to the initial position.
At the beginning, this kick is a two-stage motion: first chamber, then the kick. With correct practice it becomes one fluid motion. To ensure high chamber, kick over obstacles just above your knee height. After making the high chamber habitual, kick the heavy bag–which also may be done over such an obstacle.
Front Thrust Kick Errors
1. Low chamber, so the kick ends before striking its target, or toes get damaged by being jammed into the top of opponent’s shin.
Cause: Weak hip flexors. Not enough practice of front knee kicks and not enough kicking over the obstacle.
Remedy: Return to practice of the front knee kick until mastered. Practice kicking over the obstacle.
2. Body leans back, which robs the kick of its power.
Cause: No basics.
Remedy: Learn basics (stance, front knee kicks, etc.)
3. Two-stage motion, which makes the kick slow and weak.
Cause: Initially the two-stage motion is inevitable and normal for beginners, so this is a problem only for someone who tries to use this kick in sparring before learning it well.
Remedy: Heavy bag practice makes this kick smooth and powerful.
If you have any questions on training you can post them at Stadion’s Sports and Martial Arts Training Discussion Forum.
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