Thursday, September 27, 2007

Training… Just for Kicks

Kicking can be a very useful skill when sparring or defending against an attacker. Even though punching is easier to learn and apply, kicks should not be ignored. There are many benefits to kicking, including: being able to maintain your guard while still attacking, making up for differences in reach, not to mention you can generate more power when attacking the body.

The problem many students face with kicking is that they find it harder to become proficient at them. They become discouraged and, as a result, focus more on their punches. Admittedly, kicks do take longer to learn because you have to improve your balance and coordination to do them, but it’s a worthwhile endeavour.

If you want to improve your ability to kick, my advice is always the same. First of all, do your best to train your kicking technique with correct form. Use a mirror or have your instructor critique you regularly to ensure you’re getting it right. After all, practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect, as my Sensei always used to say.

The second thing is to practice your kicks regularly. In Jiu-jitsu, we don’t use a lot of fancy kicks, but what we do use our students are expected to learn well. But even kicks like side kick and roundhouse kick can take a long time to become proficient enough to make them fast enough and powerful enough for them to be useful in a sparring or self-defense situation. Students should train their kicks as regularly as possible to help ingrain it in their muscle memory. Doing some extra kicks at home or before class, with or without a kicking shield, will go a long way.

Once you get the basic form of your kicks down, you’ll also find that the balance and coordination you acquired to be able to kick proficiently will help become better at your other Jiu-jitsu or martial arts skills.

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