Having an arsenal of different kicks is a powerful way to create distance and timing, keep an opponent or attacker at bay, wear them down and even set up for different combinations of attacks! The options opened up by having strong, powerful and effective kicks are endless and can be the most important tool that any martial artist can possess!
However, having the ability to kick well at this level of control and technique takes time, dedication, practice and flexibility.This skill is often neglected for control of the upper body and arms, while the ability to kick lags or falls off completely.
Tips For Improvement:
Create FLEXIBILITY in your limbs and joints!
One of the first steps to improving your kicks is being able to improve the flexibility in your legs and hips.
Without loose limbs you won’t be able to properly chamber your kick, have the ability to lift your leg to the height of your target or maintain the control that is needed, to properly extend your leg to strike and finish your kick with an effective snap. No matter if your kicks are low, high, spinning or from the side, lacking proper muscle control from inflexibility will greatly affect how useful they are.
WARM UP before stretching!
A common mistake people make is believing you need to stretch before warming up. It is important to remember that warming your muscles prior to stretching allows for a deeper, more efficient stretch. This also builds the necessary flexibility in your joints and muscles allowing for full range of motion in your lower body.
The most optimal way to warm up is to begin with what is called dynamic stretching such as running, jumping, kicking or light cardio, before moving onto a static stretch. A quick internet search will help you find a more concise and specific guide to dynamic stretches that will meet your goals and desires.
Build flexibility through STATIC STRETCHING!
After performing a series of dynamic warmups, the next step should be deep, static stretching to help improve the extension and control of your kicks taking you to new heights, literally. You need to have complete control over how high you kick and in order to achieve this, you need to gain that full range of motion in your muscles and joints, which is created from the stretch.
To gain full range of motion, you need to build your flexibility and keep your muscles limber. Since our focus is specifically on kicking, your stretches should target the hip flexors, glutes, thighs and calfs.
You should spend at least 10 to 15 minutes daily stretching and focusing on making improvements in your the reach and how deep you can stretch.
Improve your leg STRENGTH!
Strength training whether done with weights, free weights or body weight, will create noticeable improvements in your leg strength and ability to control the power in your technique.
The exercises you use to improve your kicks will vary between individuals to individual and their focus and specific needs.
For those who train specifically for competitions involving points and are less contact based, training that focuses on speed and precision will dictate the exercises and desired training regime. Strength training that utilizes more power and explosion based exercises, is better suited for combat sports like MMA, Kickboxing and Muay Thai.
Know what you’re specifically training for and then build a workout regiment that suites your goals!
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, then PRACTICE some more!
The cliche phrase of “practice makes perfect” comes to mind instantly when thinking about improvement. In this case, I think Bruce Lee said it best with, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Practice is essential to mastering anything and kicks are no different. Setting aside time to hone technique through shadow boxing, with bag work or live with a partner is a must to see any kind of improvement.
Make GOALS and stay CONSISTENT!
One of the biggest factors that could hinder your improvement is consistency.
Missing out on training days, neglecting time training time or even just ignoring training kicks all together is a quick way lower your skill level and can be extremely detrimental to your progress.
Make sure to always put aside the necessary amount of time to make improvement, otherwise inconsistency is a quick way for every step forward to become two steps backwards!
If you follow these steps and work hard, train consistently and stick to a plan that works for you, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll make noticeable improvements in your kicks!