As a special treat for everyone at PPCKD and anyone who wants to enhance their CKD knowledge I have arranged for Master Dale Miller to write a short article for your perusal.
Its got some great information contained which I'm sure you can all agree will be of benefit to everyone no matter what your level.
"The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you've lost it" - unknown
I think that we can all agree as martial artists that our ability to balance is critical in all aspects of our training. Balance is fundamentally important when kicking, yet in my experience over the last few years I have noticed a lack of awareness in students of where their balance should be in the sequence of movement in their kicking techniques.
How many of you have thrown a kick in the air, with no shield or target to resist you, only to feel uncomfortable and off balance somewhere along the way? You end up landing in awkward positions, at angles you shouldn't be in.
Kicking correctly and feeling good about the technique thrown is one of the most difficult parts of Choi Kwang-Do to master. You don’t need to take my word for it just watch your fellow students perform a few kicks in the air and notice how vastly different some kicks can be.
Your balance, or lack of, and awareness of where you're balance should be at a particular time is one of the main reasons that kicking feels awkward. The first thing you need to correct to help improve your balance is to ensure your stance is correct. I can guarantee the majority of you can make some minor alterations to your stance, usually widening it an inch or two, and that will help greatly.
Our idea of shoulder distance apart for our feet really seems to be a few inches too shallow. Assuming however your stance is perfect you need to know where your balance should be all through the technique. From a front stance your body weight should be shifted onto your rear leg just a touch more than your front. Roughly 60% of the body weight should be on your rear leg initially.
Before I go any further, I should explain that when kicking in Choi Kwang Do we utilise plantar flexion in our sequence of movements for kicks. While this is an important part of the kicking technique, it only adds roughly 5% extra power to the technique. And it's this over emphasis on performing and perfecting plantar flexion and having our body weight distributed 50/50 between each leg that's causing most students balance issues.
What we need to be doing is planting our balance totally on the supporting leg first, then begin to chamber the kick and then as we begin to release the kick, and only then, should we engage the push off from our supporting leg. For example, on every front Leg technique in going to first shift my balance onto my supporting leg, from there in going to chamber the kicking leg and only then push up on the supporting leg.
With rear leg techniques I'm shifting my body weight forward onto the front foot from the rear, firmly planting my weight onto the front Leg before bringing my rear leg up to chamber and using plantar flexion. Doing so before transferring my balance results in a jumpy looking kick and makes it difficult to control and land in the correct position.
With spinning kicks, from a side stance my weight starts more on the rear leg initially and then balance transfers to the front foot. If it’s from that point that I bring my leg up into a chambered position and complete the rest of the kick.
So next time you struggle with a kick practice it slowly and deliberately. Concentrate on where your balance is and where it should be. Train your nervous system to recognise this feeling and sequence and your kicks will start to feel more controlled and feel better when you perform them.
Coloured belts shouldn't only be the ones concerned with this. This is something that higher Dans need to put the time and practice into mastering. Double kicks, consecutive kicks, sliding kicks and sliding consecutive kicks, both advancing and retreating are a huge challenge for your balance.
Unless you have great balance at the right time then these higher kicks become extremely difficult to perform. Going back to basics and relearning something as simple as this can be a great benefit for us all.
Master Dale Miller
If you want to train with Master Miller in person and get some fantastic information and some personal feedback on your techniques you can either travel all the way to Bristol or book your place on his next Masters Training Session at PPCKD in October. http://www.ppckd.com/book-online
and click on Masters to get your place booked.