Legs conditioning for kicks
After having seen the characteristics of a good kick (read The characteristics of a good kick), we go on to expose what to train (and how) to allow our legs to kick in the most effective way.
Before proceeding to the practical exercises to perform it is important to know that:
- In a real self-defense situation, to kicks without the right preparation is very dangerous (The use of legs in a real fight and Use of legs in a street fight)
- A good kick has precise rules and characteristics, we must know them (read How to kick (simple explanation))
- Balance during kicking is not automatic at all, it’s something to train hard (read Kick without losing balance: another trick and Rotations to strengthen your legs: an exercise)
The exercises categories
Without any pretense of completeness (there are many other things to do), here is a good starting point to train our legs to kick effectively:
- Stretching – Daily stretching (read Conditioning check for flexibility) must become part of our life (read How to correctly perform stretching and Basic soft stretching); among the (final) results we have to achieve the ability to go over the 180° with front / side split (read The easiest method to do the side split) and to get the standing split (grabbing the top of the foot)
- Resistance and breath – Very few free body movements can be more tiring of long sequences of repeated kicks (especially if above the knee); we have to try each type of kick with a good breathing (read The 6DKF’s combat breathing); we can start with low, slow but precise kicks and gradually increasing the height, the number of repetitions and the explosiveness (arriving at a minimum of 100 kicks per legs every day)
- Technique – While we train resistance we must be focused as a laser on the idea of improving the execution quality (we must not think of anything else); each kick should be more accurate, fast, powerful and fluid than the previous; when the practice drastically decreases in terms of quality, it’s time to change exercise (punching sequence, abs, etc.);
- Muscles power – To develop explosive strength and power besides the classic exercises (boxing bag, etc.) and what we have already said before we can tie weights on our legs / body and / or work on high-speed execution; doing this workout we must look for maximum responsiveness and completeness of movements (90% of leg’s extension, fast recovery, release of power, etc.); let’s avoid to kick with high power without a physical target (in the long run it damages the joints)
- Balance – To exercise our body to balance (in addition to reviewing the “tricks” of which we have spoken) we have to learn to push heavy / bulky objects with legs (either with pushing, penetrating and rebounding movements); we have also (in some sessions) to run kicks sequences in slow motion (without losing fluidity or stability)
- Accuracy and timing – We have to start hitting large stationary targets and then to gradually evolve towards maximum effectiveness even against tiny and moving targets (read Basic tools: the Hanging Speedball); hitting moving targets of an increasingly reduced size we will learn to reach rapidly, and effectively the opponents’ sensitive points, to dynamically transform a kick to another and to block / modify / reverse the flow as needed (more about this later)
- Coordination – The legs must be trained as in a standing position as in movement, either alone or in combination with all the other body elements (arms, head, etc.), both in terms of connection / sum of the movements both in terms of effective sequences (read Sum and concatenate the power of body elements)
- Spatial intelligence – We have to train to hit moving targets located to the side, in front, behind us and / or at any height naturally; we must learn to avoid obstacles in an instinctive way and without losing concentration; we must build a good spatial memory to know where the fighting scenario’s elements are (objects, opponents, etc.), how they are moving, where they can go and what they cannot do
- Impacts conditioning – Legs are stronger than arms but a conditioning of knees, tibiae and feet is almost obligatory once a certain kicking performance has been achieved; the more we force the compositive elements of our legs against (extremely gradually) heavy / solid targets, the more we will have fighting tools with which to beat our opponents (read Physical conditioning: how it works and Conditioning check for the impact)
- Fluidity / softness – We have to train our body to avoid any stiffness (if not at the volunteer moment of impact) so we can instantly change direction at our needs, kick both very close or far in complete safety, attack with maximum power / efficiency without wasting too much energy (read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch)
- Unpredictability – In collaboration with another practitioner or in front of a mirror (shadow boxing), we must practice in hiding our intentions (avoiding declared loading movements, hints with eyes, etc.) and in instantly elaborate good faints (with credible technical changes, etc., more about this later)
This is the general line that we follow about kick training. Needless to repeat that there are other small details and specificity for each type of kick but in future articles, we will deepen the topic.
- Basic free hand fighting techniques – A video collection of fighting techniques and the relative basic training
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- What is the most difficult part of learning how to kick, in your opinion?
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.