There are many martial art books that have chapters on kicking. Often, you will get a page or two of pictures and descriptions regarding the basic kicks. How many books have you seen that focus exclusively on one kick? That's right, an entire book focusing on one kick. Back Kick, the first book in the Achieving Kicking Excellence series, by Shawn Kovacich does much more than briefly describe the back kick with a couple accompanying photographs. It is a detailed analysis of every movement of the back kick from beginning to end. Back Kick explains the back kick, variations of the back kick, training and drills for kicking, and applications of the back kick in this comprehensive volume.
The author, Shawn Kovacich, is an instructor that has walked the walk. He set two world records for endurance high kicking that were certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, and has an impressive record in the tournament circuit having competed in tournaments such as the Sabaki Challenge among others. Seeing a lack in written instructional material on kicking, Kovacich set out to remedy that fact with his Achieving Kicking Excellence series. Judging by this first book, he has achieved his goal with the back kick and well on his way to achieve his goal regarding all of the basic kicks. Students and instructors alike will benefit from this book.
Back Kick begins with a quick explanation of how the reader can benefit most from the book. It then proceeds with a chapter on the anatomy of the back kick. Kovacich covers the bones and muscles along with their function relating to the back kick. He then provides a very brief section on warming up and stretching. The reader who is not already well adept in exercise, warm-ups and stretching would be advised to seek further information on this topic to ensure adequate preparation before kicking.
Next comes the meat of the book. Kovacich provides a detailed analysis of the back kick with clear photographs, explanations and diagrams. It is the most detailed written description of a kick I have ever seen. A person could use his descriptions as a check list on proper kicking technique. Each and every part of the kick is covered. After explaining the turning back kick, Kovacich covers variations which include: step-back back kick, step-over back kick, spinning back kick, 6 step back kick, jump back kick, 540 degree back kick and others. One criticism a person could have regarding this text is the repetitiveness of some of the pictures and descriptions of the back kick variations. If you are reading this book straight through cover to cover, yes, the repetitiveness can become boring. If you are using the text as Kovacich intended, as a learning tool, this should not be a factor. I much rather have each kick explained in its entirety, rather than be referred to a different part of the book for the elements that are similar or the same.
Kovacich covers a few training and practice methods along with a few strength training exercises for the muscles involved with kicking, namely the legs. He also briefly discusses speed and power. These are good inclusions for this text, since they are important concepts when kicking. However, because Kovacich does not go into the detail regarding these subjects as he does with the back kick, this book should only be a catalyst for the reader to recognize if they want to excel in kicking, they should study further on these topics.
The book concludes with a trouble shooting guide to help pin point problem areas with your back kicks, and a chapter on applications. Once you have mastered the back kick and its variations, you should be able to apply the kick in a sparring or fighting situation and Kovacich provides some of the basic applications he has used and teaches his students.
Shawn Kovacich's Back Kick is an excellent instructional text for any student or instructor of the kicking arts. Its detailed descriptions and photographs are clear and easy to understand, while his kicking notes provide quality instruction and advice to improve one's training and execution of this important kick. I'm looking forward to future volumes in the Achieving Kicking Excellence series.
Alain Burrese, J. D. is a mediator/attorney with Bennett Law Office P. C. and an author/speaker through his own company Burrese Enterprises Inc. He writes and speaks about a variety of topics focusing on the business areas of negotiation and success principles as well as self-defense and safety topics. He is the author of Hard-Won Wisdom From the School of Hard Knocks, several instructional dvds, and numerous articles. You can find out more about Alain Burrese at his website http://www.burrese.com or at the Northwest Speakers Association website http://www.tohirespeakers.com