Keep up your guard up at all times!
When kicking, always keep your guard up. Do not use you hands arms for balance. Arms are used for guarding, blocking, and attacking, not for kicking or balance. Balance is maintained through subtle body movements and muscle tension. If you have strong, toned, powerful muscles, balance is not a problem. If you have a weak musculature, a potbelly, or poor conditioning, you will probably need to thrash your arms around like a turkey trying to fly in an effort to maintain your balance. Do not use your arms in an attempt to add power to a kick. Keep your guard up for protection at all times!
Elements of a Kick
Important tips on kicking
Ways to perform kicks
The initial movement on any kick is the knee pulling the leg into the chamber position. From the waist up, there is no indication of a kick being considered. Once the upper body moves, the kick is already in motion. For some kicks, the upper body may move very little. This means the first noticed the opponent has of an attacking kick is when it hits the target. Do not drop the arms, swing the arms, or extend the arms; just move around in a good fighting stance with a tight guard and suddenly fire a kick without telegraphing the kick in anyway.
Raise Kicking Leg and Knee
For most kicks, raise the kicking knee high with the lower leg almost parallel to the floor and pull the knee back into a deep cocked position. From this position, any one of a variety of kicks may be executed in one smooth motion. Reasons for this are:
Arms are not used for kicks. Arms are used for blocking and striking. When you kick, the body above the waist does not move until you pivot and roll the hips. You do not swing, wave, or flap the arms; they stay in a tight guard position, even when performing a spin kick. Doing a fast, high kick does no good, if the opponent steps inside the kick and punches or kicks your unguarded face or body.
Kick similar to the way a duck swims. When you see a duck moving around a lake, the duck is moving calmly and smoothly through the water with its wings tucked with no apparent body movement. However, just beneath the surface, the ducks legs are thrashing like crazy.
Pivot on the ball of your standing foot as you kick to prevent ligament injury and to use the power generated by the rotating hips. For most kicks, the standing foot will pivot 180 degrees so its toes point directly away from the target. As the kicking leg is re-cocked, pivot the standing foot back to its starting position.
Once the kicking leg is cocked, the kick starts with the knee. For side thrust kicks, drive the knee toward the target. For round, hook, heel, etc. kicks, pull the knee around and through the technique.
In kicks, just as in hand techniques, power comes from hips. Without the hips, the only the power in a kick comes from the leg and possibility from a spin. Snap rolling the hip over into a kick applies the mass of the entire body into the kick and give it maximum penetrating power. When kicking, most students concentrate on leg power, some remember to chamber, but many forget the hip action.
The chamber is important since it contracts the powerful leg muscles to prepare them for a power extension through the full range of motion. When power is applied over a longer distance, the power of the kick increases. As the kick extends, the body mass is settled onto the support foot so the support leg may push off the floor to add power to the kick. From a tight chamber the, such as for a side thrust kick, the kick may be executed no matter how close the opponent is. If the opponent closes range quickly, the kick may be used to nail the opponent as he or she closes, or, at the worst, the kick may be used to push the opponent backward.
The leg extends, making contact with the target couple of inches before full extension so maximum force occurs during target penetration. If the leg reaches full extension before target contact, the kick misses. If it makes contact too early, power is decreased to the point that the kick becomes a push rather than a strike.
The kick quickly retracts to its chamber position. From the chambered position, another kick may be fired, the chamber may be maintain as a guard, or the foot may be placed at any position of the floor desired by the kicker. If the leg drops to the floor without retracting, it cannot quickly kick again, and the kicker must step forward even if it is not an advantageous move.
Kicking Leg Tension
Leg tension is important in angular kicks, such as the round and hook kicks. In linear thrust kicks, such as the side thrust or back kicks, it is less important, since the mass of the body is directly behind the kick. In angular kicks, the mass of the body may only be applied to the kick through tension in the leg, since the mass is being applied at an angle to the kicking leg. Again, a strong musculature is required. If the hip joint flexes, power is lost. If the knee flexes, it may be injured.
Some kickers use a counter-motion when kicking. The counter-motion is to either lean the upper body away from the kick or to move the arms away from the direction of the kick; the reasoning is that this thrusts the hips forward to add power to the kick.
However, counter-motion makes no sense what so ever. It is at most a feeble attempt to maintain balance while thrusting the leg outward. In want sport does the athlete lean away from the direction a force is being applied? The mass of the body should be applied behind the kick or punch, not be held back, and certainly not pulled backward.
When you perform a kick, such as a side thrust kick, the arms should maintain their guard and the upper body should stay upright, or maybe kink forward into the kick. As a defense, you may choose to lean backward to avoid a kick, such as a round kick to the head, as you fire your side thrust kick.
In all kicks, a specific area of the foot is the striking surface. To accomplish this, the foot must be held in a specified shape at the moment of impact.
The supporting leg must be slightly bent and springy, with the foot firmly on the ground. Having the knee too straight or too bent will adversely affect the kick. The supporting leg must be supple rather than rigid. If the support knee is locked, the leg is susceptible to injury, either internally from the force of the muscles, or externally from a possible strike to the leg. Remember, any force you apply to the target is also reflected back into your body. When the knee is unlocked, it also permits subtle leg movements that allow the kicker to maintain balance.
Do not raise the support heel in an attempt to gain more height in the kick. With the heel off the floor, power is lessened since the springing action of the ankle absorbs forces being transmitted to and from the floor through the body.
The lighter your body weight, the more speed is required for you to develop a kick of a force equal to the force generated by a heavier student. The actual velocity of a kick is, perhaps more than anything else, determined by the power expended in the snap of the knee.
Do not attempt to kick higher than you can while still maintaining proper form. Height will come with flexibility and training. Always maintain proper form when kicking and let height come with time.
Kick at hand targets to increase accuracy. Develop power and recoil resistance by kicking a heavy bag.
Use Full Power Only At Full Extension
Many beginners tend to use full strength throughout the motion of kicking. This creates tension throughout the leg. Remember, tension not only hinders speed, but also exhausts your strength. While kicks should always be delivered at top speed, the entire leg should remain relaxed until the moment of full extension or just before contact, at which time full tension and muscle power should be concentrated in a powerful burst.
Maintain a Straight Line Through the Body While Kicking
When the hips, body, and leg muscles are thrust forward behind the kick, tremendous power can result. This coordinates all body movement into the kick. For example, imagine that you are a delivering a side thrust kick to a stack of boards. If the body is not in line with the hip and leg, the reactive force from the boards will twist the body lessening the impact force. If everything is in alignment, the reactive force will be directed down the support leg to the floor where it will rebound back through the body to the boards adding to the impact force.
What if your kicking leg is grabbed?