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King of cool: the side thrust kick

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Introduction

Following on from my article on refining the front snap kick, here are some more kicking tips, this time in relation to the side thrust kick.

The side thrust kick is possibly the second most useful kick in the civilian defence arsenal after the front kick (many people think it is the roundhouse kick, but I disagree - more on that another time).

And apart from any usefulness inherent in the side thrust kick, I think there's another, far more important, reason to learn and practice it: it's heaps of fun! And done properly it can look pretty cool. Just take a look at the adjacent picture of Bruce Lee and tell me it isn't cool!

I spent many an afternoon as a teenager trying to get that signature side thrust kick position just right. But, try as I might, I simply couldn't come close to mastering the hardest part - holding your leg in place! I wanted to able to do what Bruce Lee did in "Enter the Dragon". Remember when O'Hara comes to Bru…

Advanced techniques

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Introduction

Recently the subject of “advanced techniques” has been debated on the Traditional Fighting Arts Forums.

I think it is self-evident that there are some techniques or forms are much harder to learn - not just because they require mere athleticism, but because they require subtler kinaesthetics and the ability to execute them depends on years upon years of “precursor” training.

They might be more effective, but frequently they won’t; simple is often the best.1

I happen to call such “hard to learn” techniques “advanced”. Why? Because I think beginners should start with things that are easier to learn.

Advanced techniques vs. advanced practitioners

My comments above are at odds with the views of those who would argue that “there are no advanced techniques, only advanced practitioners”. On this analysis, the techniques themselves are relatively simple. All that changes is the complexity of the combinations of these simple techniques.

Indeed there is something to be said for that p…

Front kick: body leaning back or forward?

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You will recall that I recently answered a question from Dave T about the chamber of the ankle in the front kick.

Dave had a second question, which was as follows:"I was once showed a front kick where the body is leaned forward towards the target. The kick is similar to the karate version except for the deliberate forward leaning motion of the body.
Some reasons for the forward leaning body:
1. Speed. The natural backward movement of the traditional front kick (due to the hip) slows the kick and telegraphs it.
2. Power. With the body in front, it supposedly adds more power to the kick due to the kicker’s bodyweight.
3. Balance. With the body in front towards the target, it helps the kicker keeps his balance especially if his kick is blocked or the opponent rushes forward during the kick.
4. Groin protection. With the body leaning forward, the groin is less exposed.
5. Lastly, related to point 3, with the bodyweight in front towards the target, it makes the kicker less vulnerable to…

Dynamic context drills

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Introduction

In my article “Situational reflex: the key to martial effectiveness” I discussed the importance of appropriate situational reflexes in martial arts.

Then in “Rhythm and its importance in developing situational reflex” I discussed how such reflexes might be developed – ie. through drills that set up the relevant situation in a dynamic context. A “dynamic context” is, of course, one where one or both parties are in a state of constant movement. It compares to a “static context” where drills start from a position where both sides are stationary - what I call a “standing start” drill (eg. one step sparring or “ippon kumite” as it is known in Japanese).

In “‘Standing start’ drills – what’s wrong with them” I discussed how “standing start” drills are not up to the task of situational reflex development. In the absence of a dynamic context you cannot establish a rhythm that is sufficient to enable:pattern recognition; and
the inculcation of a matching of a situational reflex.So…

“Standing start” drills – what’s wrong with them

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Introduction

In my recent article “Rhythm and its importance in developing situational reflex” I discussed the need for martial arts drills to take place in a “dynamic context” – namely a context in which a rhythm can be established so that situational reflex can be inculcated.

But what do people usually do when they wish to practice a technique? They isolate the movement into a “standing start” drill.What is this?

A “standing start” drill is where one side is the attacker, the other side is the defender. The attacker will start from a stationary position and launch an attack - often on a count called by the instructor, but sometimes of his or her own motion.

Sometimes the attack will involve a step (eg. “ippon kumite” or “one step sparring”), sometimes it will involve just a lunge and sometimes it won’t involve any substantial movement off the spot.

The most analogous drill in a game like tennis would be practising a return of serve; each serve is its own distinct play with no nexus to…