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Th0mas's picture
The legacy of Bad Habits in Training....

I was commenting on another forum when it occurred to me that for a number of years I have had the suspicion that certain aspects of my technique, no matter how much I train to correct, have been overly influenced by my early years of "air" training.

...in particular my round house kick.

Firstly, no false modesty, I have pretty bloody good form in all of the "traditional" Shotokan kicks. This is no accident. From the ages of 15 through to 25(ish) my training goal was to achieve, what I believed then to be, the pinnacle of karate form, I wanted all of my technique to look the best it could.... and there is the rub. The main issue is that I was not training to generate maximum power to strike through the target, but generating maximum speed to strike at the target. (this may seem trivial but I believe this has profound effects on muscle memory and the timing of the kick) To achieve a mawashigeri of great form - firing a head-high kick at an imaginary point with perfect control -  requires me to use the corresponding antagonistic muscles to ristrict the power of the kick just at the point of striking the target, else the follow through will unbalance me. and I trained for years to perfect this. So this is not normally a problem - I just aim 3 inches into my targets head - but it does get exposed when kicking with the ball of my foot into a heavy bag. I just don't get the penetration as I would with the shin or instep. So to all you other Nethy-forumites, especially those of you like myself that started in one of the mainstream karate styles in 80's have you noticed the same thing? do you too have a dark secret, maybe a dodgy uracken or you can't stop yourself doing hook kicks? Be honest and lets shine a torch on some of those bad training behaviours, misapprehensions and kooky logic that you are trying to untrain even now......  
Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

When I "play" at all with a partner,  sometimes  when I get tired I will revert to old point sparring habits, stuff like stepping back and timing a sidekick to the midsection. Much of the time it actually lands, but I feel it's pretty useless as far as "reality" goes..I mentally slap myself every time.

I keep trying to take some of the good stuff from my point sparring days, the timing an distancing, and apply to stuff that's more sensible.

Depending on where you are kicking, and what is on your feet, the standard mawashi geti doesn't seem that terrible to me.

Michael Hough
Michael Hough's picture

I can't remember who said this to me (Sherman Harrill, maybe) when I asked his opinion on the traditional "snapping" round kick vs. a thai-style round kick:

"Sure, the thai kick is more powerful, but then he's WAY OVER THERE. I want him right here."

Three inches of penetration on an appropriate target is plenty powerful. I use them both.

Th0mas's picture

Zach Zinn wrote:

When I "play" at all with a partner,  sometimes  when I get tired I will revert to old point sparring habits, stuff like stepping back and timing a sidekick to the midsection. Much of the time it actually lands, but I feel it's pretty useless as far as "reality" goes..I mentally slap myself every time.

I totally agree - I get too excited and then out of nowhere I chin my opponent with a hook kick. It is difficult to keep focussed on practical techniques especially when you see the opening and my reactions just takes over.

I really really really don't want to pull one of those stunts in a pub fight - i don't concider myself a terry O'neil.

Lyndon's picture

I suppose the question is, do you feel the same way about your punches?    I imagine we were all taught to punch and kick as fast as we could to get to the target.    Now if we can erase that "stopping" action with a punch, then why not a kick?

I'm not disagreeing with your initial premise... yes, people do find it difficult to "let it go" and make effective contact (just try bringing some pads into a "traditional" class) but it's up to the individual to decide whether that's what they want or not.       I found it went away quite quickly once I did extra practice on pads and bags.    I can still do a nice neat kick "to the point" when I want to, but also (now) don't have an issue with drilling it in if needs be.

That said, outside the dojo my feet wouldn't be flying about anyway!

Th0mas's picture

Hi Lyndon

For me punching was a small problem that could be solved by a few months of additional bag work. I think the challenge for punching is learning the correct timing to generate maximum power by utlising your hips and body mass etc. and not necessary a balance issue like Air kicking ....

What I find interesting was before I did any bag work I managed to achieve (maybe that is not the right word) a number of knockouts in competition (Old ippon Kumite - oops). Which just goes to show that air punching is not all bad... wink

jeffc's picture

I had the same issue with my roundhouse kicks.  I started in Shukokai in the 80's and everything was pretty much sparring-based and the snap was emphasised all the time.  That said, we did spend time (probably quite a lot in comparison with other clubs in the era) developing power on the pads, but I still felt that my kicks looked powerful as opposed to being powerful.  I later moved house and started training in Muay Thai at a local club.  My roundhouse kicks were quickly exposed for being fast, but lacking penetration and power, much like others have experienced from the sounds of it.  Many rounds on the Thai pads and heavy bag, along with an alteration on my technique (mostly around the mechanics of the standing leg and the hip movement) and hey presto, I had a fast roundhouse kick that had power and penetration!! 

This is not a slight on any instructor or style, but just an example of how no single person or style has a monopoly on knowledge and it is prudent to keep an open and critical mind to ensure that we each develop into the best martial artist that we can be.  There is no "one best way", only things to learn, practise and master.

Th0mas's picture

Hi Jeff

Wow... this really is a topic-of-the-living-dead!

I agree with your point about x-training. Also just like air-technique, bag-technique is not the same as people-technique. I have trained with guys who have very impressive bag-work, but can't kick their way out of a paper bag when it comes to sparring or fighting - I don't refer to point-scoring here but effective penetrating technique. (clearly I am not talking about self-protection either).

As a side note, what was interesting was the comparison between my left leg and my right leg, the left leg (I am right handed/footed) had significant more penetration and power when doing bag work excetera. I put that down to the fact that air-kicking-technique"was always more polished on my right side and took more "undoing" than my left. 

jeffc's picture

Hi Th0mas

I agree with your points and I think that the Thai pads (accompanied by belly pad and shin pads) are probably as real as you can get in developing full-on power for sport/mutual combat without eventually destroying your training partners, just because you have to adjust your timing and distance and still deliver a powerful blow, but there is still the flaw in that you are not in the same danger of being hit back or tackled to the ground.

Cross-training is vital in my opinion, not because you have to leave all of your old skills behind, but because you can embrace new ideas and methods of training in order to eliminate our bad habits and develop our weaknesses.  I genuinely believe that every system/rule-set has flaws, but recognising them is the first step to eradicating them.  There is no "one right answer" or "perfect training method", it is the blend that makes a true martial artist.