Kicking, a Journey in itself .

I have always been more of a puncher than a kicker, with me not having the greatest flexibility I tended to use my kicks to smash the knees or thighs, which is probably another reason why I have been drawn to Goju ryu, because of their effective kicking to joints rather than the head. It worked for me I had big legs, and used my strength to power through someone, I knew the principles of proper kicking, but as I couldn’t apply it to myself I thought that my kicks are effective  but will never be that good.

When I went to China my flexibility increased a lot, stretching everyday and being Shaolin stretched will do that to you, but my kicking became a lot worse in China. White Crane does do kicks, but unlike many other Kung Fu systems they won’t teach you till you have done 6months to a year. So through lack of use my kicking became shockingly bad. Shawn was a kickboxer, a really cool guy who I use to bounce ideas off with in China. He observed me kicking the bag and told me my problem is that I knew I was a strong guy with heavy legs. I over relied on this, which meant I was limiting my potential and kicking much worse than I should have been. He went through principles and techniques I had heard and learnt in Goju Ryu before, but couldn’t help on having the same habits. He told me about opening up my hip, pivoting more on my foot and taking the strength out of my kicks and just follow through with all my hip and body weight. I have a tendency to not follow through, because I worry about losing my balance, but Shawn told me that the weight of the big bag or opponent will stop you.

Sure enough it improved dramatically, but alas Shawn left the Kung Fu school too soon, and my kicking got worse again. I suppose as my defence and inch power were improving so much I can’t complain too much about it.

When I returned to England and training, my kicking was terrible, I had great defence but bad habits had reformed with my kicking, and it had taken many months to get my kicking back to how it was prior to China.

There was a period when I was injured after my last Grading (I passed by the way) and couldn’t do my normal strength training, so I decided to work more on Sanchin Kata, I was working on combing the Sanchin power and white crane power together in the punches, using a little hip motion which got me thinking on how to balance it with my kicks. Then I was thinking how Sensei and a blackbelt student can generate a lot of short range power in their kicks, whilst holding it in the air. It wasn’t just hip motion, but they were really opening up the hip, and using it to drive through which automatically pivots the foot.

I was ecstatic, I was really working a lot on my short range defence, feeling more like a Goju Ryu ka and recalling the principles I saw of one of our Sempai’s at a demo they did, which is probably what inspired this new train of thought.

Then I was playing a video game, MGS4, and playing when snake fights like his old school style, with a few punches and cool kicks, and I was getting jealous and inspired. Why can’t I fight like that, that looks so cool. Then it got me thinking, of the best fighting characters I liked, Solid Snake, Jim Kazama from Tekken and Kazuma Kiryu from Yakuza.

Now don’t get me wrong I know my limitations, but combing what I had learnt about Sanchin kicking (A term I named itself as it uses Sanchin principles in my opinion), what Shawn taught me in China and my new found belief in myself from the grading I was practicing my long range combo along side my short range, to try to be more of a complete martial artist. Use the big motions, taking the strength out of my kicks for now and following through I was able to somewhat emulate the type of kicking I have always wanted to do, with more practice I have gotten even better at it, its like the next stage in my personal karate.

Then Ironically when I returned after my injury I had found out that Sensei had been on a similar wave of thought with head kicks, reverse etc. For the last 2 months we have been working on it, and whilst I am not a natural head kicker, and with my body type I wouldn’t use it in a self defence situation I have a new tool in my arsenal and I feel like a real karate man! Be able to do head kicks is so exciting.

In a sparring situation, my big reverse kicks and head kicks are more of a deterrent at the moment, people are aware of my clumsy legs and are getting out of the way, so a weakness has become a strength. With time I am able to make the faster and more accurate, and the journey with my kicking continues.

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2 Responses to Kicking, a Journey in itself .

  1. Nicely written. There are a couple of things I’d like to pick up on:
    Firstly, in sparring with you I’ve noticed that you are very ‘closed’ meaning you are difficult to attack from the front – a good guard, but I think that when you decide to counterattack, you remain closed which, I think, reduces your potential for the counter.
    I think that when the need to counter arises, you are actually taking a gamble, and in the nature of taking a gamble you must be prepared to take a risk, so opening the guard to counter more effectively is necessary.
    Secondly, you say ‘I know my limitations’. I say, limitations are merely temporary, and that they are mini (or not so mini) unconsciously self-imposed challenges… can you beat them?
    See you at training!

    • djsolly1 says:

      Thank you for the observation, it gives me pause for thought and a chance to work on my counter attack. It now makes sense why I struggle with a counter attack.

      You raise a good second point, but perhaps I should of said my natural limitations. You can improve them and overcome most of your natural limitations, but if i was to theoretically give up training for a few months and then come back my punching would still be very good because I am a natural puncher, but I would need to work on my kicking again to bring it up to scratch.
      Of course if I was able to train everyday for the rest of my life I would theoretically be able to overcome these limitations, but that doesn’t mean these limitations are a bad thing, if they force us to train in these weakness diligently. A limitation is only a weakness if you perceive it to be.

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