Continued from part one.
WHERE are you at when attempting to kick?
Where you are at has a tremendous bearing on your ability to use your kicks effectively. For example; are you in a crowded bar, on a sandy beach, an ice covered sidewalk, a grassy hill, in a gravel covered parking lot, or how about an open area free of obstructions? Each one of these places has special characteristics that need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to kick. Does the crowded bar offer you a large obstacle free area in which to execute your kicks, or is it full of obstacles including bystanders, chairs, tables, stools, slippery drink spilled hardwood floors, etc. Does the sandy beach, ice covered sidewalk, or the gravel parking lot offer the stable surface area needed to balance on one leg and kick? How about the grassy hill? Are you on the top of the hill kicking down, the bottom of the hill kicking up, or the side of the hill kicking to the side? Always remember that the environment that you are kicking in has a deciding factor on the effectiveness of your kicks.
WHEN are you attempting to use your kicks?
Are you using your kicks as an initial attack, or are you using them after you have already set-up and/or staggered your opponent with another technique or techniques? For the most part, I am a firm believer in setting up your kicks by utilizing hand techniques and/or stand-up grappling skills first, in order to keep your opponent off balance in order to increase the chances of landing an effective kick. Although there have been occasions where I have personally initiated a successful attack by using one of my kicks first, I would still prefer to utilize another technique or techniques prior to executing a kick.
A jab is generally considered the easiest and fastest punch in boxing. Why? Well, simply put the jab is closest to the opponent and is thrown with more speed than force behind it. This makes the jab a very effective punch for the purpose that it was intended. That is to keep the opponent at a distance, confuse him, and to set-up the more powerful right cross and the left hook that are sure to follow.
The same exact thing works with you kicks. Utilize the hands, which are generally faster and easier to use than the legs, to keep your opponent at a distance, confuse him, and to set-up the more powerful kicks. Just like in boxing.
WHY are you in a situation where you may have to kick, and WHY are you attempting to use your kicks?
Why are you in a situation where you have to consider defending yourself? Are you their because of no other option, or did you allow yourself to be put in this situation? It has been my experience that over 90% of all physical confrontations could be avoided if the individual first knew how to avoid them, and secondly, if the individual tried to avoid them. Depending on the circumstances, you should always try to avoid a confrontational situation if at all possible. However, there are times when it is either unavoidable, or a situation where you cannot avoid it. Remember the famous line from Bruce Lee’s movie Enter the Dragon, “My style is the art of fighting without fighting. ” Are these words to live by? You decide.
Why are you attempting to kick? Is there an opening that you can exploit, or are you trying to show off and impress somebody? Here is a saying that my father told me when I was younger, and I am sure a lot of fathers told their sons throughout the years. It goes something like this, “Never carry a gun unless you intend to use it. Never pull that gun unless you intend to shoot it. Never point a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him. And never, shoot a man unless you intend to kill him. ” The same can be said for you kicks!
And finally and perhaps most importantly, do you know HOW to correctly execute your kicks, and do you know HOW to correctly apply them?
These are perhaps the two most important factors that you need to consider when deciding whether or not to execute a kick in a self-defense situation. Do you truly know how to execute your kicks in order to make them the most efficient and effective kicks that you can? Do you know your kicks inside and out, forward and backward, upside down and right side up? Have you practiced those kicks thousands upon thousands of times correctly, under the watchful eye of a qualified and competent instructor? For the sake of argument let’s say that you have. Now here is the rest of the how.
Do you know how to correctly apply them in a self-defense situation? The how encompasses all of the above mentioned items put together into one package. Along with the knowledge of what circumstances will best suit the use of your kicks. Would you try to kick my 7’ basketball player in the head while he is standing in front of you? How about kicking the guy coming at you with a knife while you are standing on an icy sidewalk? How about you obnoxious brother-in-law at the family reunion? Remember, there is a time and place for everything, and that includes kicking.
So are the “self-defense” experts and others like them right? Well, the answer is yes, if you don’t know what you are doing, and no, if you do know what you are doing. Can you achieve this ability overnight, of course not. Can you achieve this ability over a period of time, definitely! With time, patience, and proper practice, you can learn how to effectively utilize your kicking skills in a real life self-defense situation.
Shawn Kovacich is a high ranking black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do. He is also a two-time world record holder for endurance high kicking as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Shawn is the author of the Achieving Kicking Excellence™ series and can be reached via his site at: www.KickingBooks.com