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Old 03-09-2008, 03:12 AM   #1
Jonathan Slater
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Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

Ok, I'm a TKD practitioner (ITF) and although I can kick my own head height easily at speed (not bad as I'm 6'4" ) that's more from momentum than leg strength, which is certainly an area in which I'm lacking. My basic flexibility is okay - to illustrate what I mean, if my leg is bent then I have no problem lifting my thigh up to my chest. However, if I then try to extend that leg, I'm forced to drop it almost a foot, if not more, as I can't hold it. Some of my fellow students can hold a side kick at head height! This is the kind of thing I'm aiming for.

So, here's the actual question after the introductory preamble: the usual leg exercise staples, such as squat-based movements, obviously strengthen your legs. As the direction of motion is different, however, does that strength transfer to the kind of lifting and raised extension movements involved in kicking? Or is an exercise that more exactly mimics the kicking motion required?
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:47 AM   #2
Floyd Russell
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

Hey there! Im a WTF fighter but as far as kicking goes this is universal:

You are correct about doing squats except that aside from leg strength, you will promote excellent hip flexibility mobility. So it is super important to focus on full ROM and proper technique than stacking on weights. In fact, squats are perfect for this without any weights at all. Just go slow and stay on your heels. Try doing squat sits as a warmup. Think, "Butt to Calfs".
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:01 PM   #3
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

Jonathan, I'd go peruse Stadion.com ( w/f safe ) with your active flexibility issues.

I'm sure squats will help, but not as much as focused hip flexor drills. Simply trying to hold the leg in a static position at whatever height can be helpful to getting that high hold that some TKD practitioners have.

Pistols will be good, but we are still talking about only the ability to hold the leg out horizontal which does not meet the bar when it comes to holding that leg high.

I'd prescribe some leg holds and slow leg lifts while standing ( or with theraband/tubing ).

Again, stadion will be of much better help than I when it comes to this as I never did TKD or cared to hold my leg high in forms or demos as I trained in other systems where it was not required.
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Old 05-01-2008, 08:40 AM   #4
Sean Gillespie
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

So you want a slow controlled head kick?

I'm going to play devil's advocate here for a second. I'm not having a go at all I swear but I read this and thought I'd bring up some points you may want to consider

I'm 5'3". I do Savate. I fight guys in the 6' and over range on a weekly basis.

My FAVOURITE thing to do is catch their head kicks and send them into the floor. If I'm in a bad mood I catch the kick and walk backwards instead of forwards.

Savate kicks, particularly the circular fouetté kick, are all about speed. We don't worry about power as such. Getting hit with the toe of a shoe sucks. You don't need to break your toe doing it, an accurate tap is crippling. Think of someone driving a stick into your nerves. Like that.

And at my height against these taller guys I can still catch these kicks, built for speed and nothing else, that they're firing at my head (which is above their waistline but below the bottom of their heads).

Kicking higher than your waist line is like handing your opponent a golden gift on a velvet pillow.

Not only that but too much flexibility will rob your power. It shifts the power band across because you're muscles aren't tightening up at the shallower angle. Guys who have gotten their splits to insane levels have commented that their power has dropped because they just can't tighten up as much.

So really, kicking high - why do you want it? If you get caught then it's game set and match. If you can already do it fast then you've got it optimised I reckon. A high kick must be a surprise but like I say, even at my height against much taller opponents, I can wear and catch it with regularity.

just some food for thought
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Old 05-01-2008, 10:51 AM   #5
Larry A Henrikson
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

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Originally Posted by Sean Gillespie View Post

Kicking higher than your waist line is like handing your opponent a golden gift on a velvet pillow.

That's a principle in Krav Maga as well. Most of our kicks stay below the lower abdomen. Kicking at the head leaves you too open. BUT, if your a point fighter like a lot of traditional martial arts still do, the speed and reach of a high kick are viable.

I've noticed that my legs will only become flexible if I do countless repititions. Stretching supplements using the muscles. So keep practicing the movement and increase your daily stretching of the muscles involved.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:25 AM   #6
Jonathan Slater
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

I only just noticed these other replies...

The main reason I want a slow and controlled high kick is for patterns.
My main reason for doing TKD has always been because I love it, not necessarily to fight with it - it helps, certainly, but in that case I'd likely revert to my kickboxing training and just shin kick/elbow the guy.

Also, I want that kind of control because seeing others in my class with it and me not having it does not sit well with me.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:47 AM   #7
Melissa Whittle
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

Kajukenbo practitioner here. We don't do a lot of high-hold patterns like you are describing but I think I get the gist. You might try using an ankle weight to lift against and then hold at the top. I would do this with your leg extended -- just lift as high as you can for a few reps until you get a good burn, repeat a few times a week and eventually it will get higher. Sometimes lift in front of the hip, sometimes behind and sometimes right against the hip to get all the stabilizers that you can. If you have a partner, you can do a leg lift, hold at the top, then have your partner throw your leg down while you keep tension at the top.

I don't think developing more strength at the top of your kick will weaken or slow your kicks in general, IMHO. Just because you wouldn't use that kick for self-defense doesn't mean that it can't be useful for forms or a good training exercise.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:27 PM   #8
Dean Whittle
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

I've got nothing to add to the main topic, but I just wanted to tell Melissa that she has a great surname ...

Regards
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:12 PM   #9
Gant Grimes
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

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Originally Posted by Blair Robert Lowe View Post
I'm sure squats will help, but not as much as focused hip flexor drills. Simply trying to hold the leg in a static position at whatever height can be helpful to getting that high hold that some TKD practitioners have.
Bingo.

It doesn't matter how strong your legs are if your delivery system is compromised.

Same with speed. You may be able to flop it out there quickly, but you're really not controlling it.

Start with something low, like the seat of a folding chair. Chamber your knee--high--and slowly extend your leg over the object. Hold for a 1 count and bring it back. Start with 3 sets of 5 reps and increase it until you can do 3 sets of 10. Then increase the height of the object.

L-sits, V-ups, and full situps will help you along.

Go here to learn more about these muscles (wfs). http://www.exrx.net/Lists/ExList/Hip...#anchor1938598
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:04 PM   #10
Jonathan Slater
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Re: Transferability of leg strength for kicking flexibility

Thanks for the replies, I've got a lot of stuff to try now.
Great link as well. I was going to ask about full ROM sit-ups etc with regard to kicks, as they work the flexors, but you've sneakily answered my question before I even asked it.
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