Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Last Class

We had our last class of the semester the Sunday before last. I'm not sure why we end so early. It was actually a testing day and I was surprised since we had just tested in October. Anyway, it seems the yellow belts test for a green 'stripe' before the end of the semester. Perhaps this is to keep people motivated to come back next semester since unless we pass the test (nobody seems to right away), we only get the stripe next semester after remedying what we need to.

Anyway... my test results said that I needed work on most of my 'spinning' type kicks and some others too: Given that I've done these kicks for a few odd weeks, I didn't need to take a test to realize this.
* spin stomp kick
* wheel kick
* tornado kick
* moving spin back kick
* front roundhouse kick

I don't know how much the names will convey, possibly other schools use different names and I don't know the Korean equivalents.

In addition, though I performed Dan-Gun reasonably, apparently I did badly at Chon-ji, the earlier form; my stances weren't deep enough and I didn't show enough power. I made a resolution to practice my forms at least over the month long break, if nothing else, so lets see how that goes.

The main event of the night was two girls testing for their brown belts. They first did many different combinations of kicks and punches, the longest maybe 6 or 7 in a row. Then they performed their forms. They sparred against each other, then against 4 black and brown belts. Next, they broke boards with hook and side kicks. Finally, 10 knuckle pushups (that seemed too few...maybe they were asked to do less because they're girls?). I wonder if they got their belts. To be honest, everything didn't look 'flawless' to me, maybe its not supposed to. I guess I was thinking at that level, they would test almost perfectly. Green belts and blue belts testing for a stripe broke boards with flying side kicks, which was entertaining to watch.

We start classes again in the beginning of January, and I am somewhat glad of the break. For a while, my time in the evenings will not be allotted wholly to Taekwondo. Also, I've been worrying about a stitch in my side that's been bothering me for a few weeks now. I tend to associate it with when I got hit in the tummy, or having strained something in my side, though by now it might be (psychological, i.e.) complicated by the fact that I was very worried and stressed about being hit hard during sparring.

On 12/11: I am sure my body will regret the break. I can feel my kicks getting rusty. It takes so much motivation to practice on your own even a 10th of what we do in class!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How to Kick Harder

I think the simple answer is: put your butt/hips into the kick. The hips generate a lot of power, and this has to be made use of while kicking as well as punching.

For example, in front kick, thrusting your hips forward gives the kick power. Imagine that at the instant of throwing the kick, someone slaps you forward hard in the small of your back. That is how our instructor gets us to kick with more 'snap' (see also the comments section for a reader's suggestion about how to think of the hip action). In roundhouse, during the kick, your hips should be moving 'into' the kick. To do this, bend the balance knee so that your hips are free to move forward in the direction of the kick. In back kick, try to keep your hips low while kicking and use your hips to thrust back, while you hold the kick for a vibration.

I want to say that I'm a beginner and learning these things for the first time, so I don't want it to sound like I'm an authority of any kind. I wrote this post because I felt it might be helpful for me (and hopefully other beginners) to put what I am learning about technique into words as precisely as I can. So if readers have corrections, suggestions or thoughts, do comment!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Flying Side Kick

If there's one kick I want to become good at, its flying side kick! I tried one for the first time yesterday. I simply had a feeling of amazement that my body could be capable of doing this thing which seems to defy all the rules of gravity!

As I understood, here's how to do it: From fighting stance (body sideways (right), face forward), take a biggish step with back (right) leg, then a step with the other (left) leg. At this point, start to pull the kicking knee (right) towards your chin. This will have the effect of making the non-kicking (left) leg come up off the ground. Then straighten kicking (right) leg to kick. When raising knee to chin, try to keep the upper body straight, i.e. draw the knee up instead of pointing chin down. Try to hold the non-kicking (left) leg close, almost as if sitting. I think that the 'boost' for getting off the ground starts with the action of pulling the kicking knee up towards your body, and not so much by jumping off the ground with your non-kicking leg.