by Lachlan Cooper
Balance is very important when practicing martial arts whether it is Taekwondo, Aikido, Muay Thai or any other art. If the body is in a well balanced position the kick, punch or block will be more effective. Good balance will also enable you to move more effectively in attack or defense.
It is easy to keep your balance when you are just standing there but when you start to shift your weight while you are performing different techniques keeping your balance requires some training. For example if you were to apply a foot technique you must have good balance on your supporting foot otherwise the impact of the kick will upset your stability. On the same token if you are defending yourself and are not balanced you will find that when you block you will force yourself even more off
balance and find you will be vulnerable to more attacks.
Concentration of power is vital whether in attack or defense. It is nearly impossible to achieve full power in a technique using just the arm or leg. The muscular strength and body weight should be used to obtain full power without over committing yourself so as to leave yourself in a vulnerable position. You should aim to keep your muscles relaxed but alert to permit yourself to move quickly and respond to different situations.
There are many different exercises that will help with balance while still delivering powerful techniques. I will go through five of these for you. These exercises will not greatly improve your balance and power overnight but overtime with consistent practice you will improve:
- SLOW KICK
- SLOW KICK & HOLD
- BAG KICKS
USING A FRONT KICK AS AN EXAMPLE FOR THESE EXERSISES
KICK/HOLD: From your guarding position execute a front kick at full power, at the end of your kick hold your leg in the extended position for 3 seconds. Keep your self from following your leg and falling over.
KICK/RETURN: Follow the same steps as the above exercise but instead of holding your kick out there recoil your kick and remain balanced on your supporting leg.
SLOW KICK: From your guarding position execute a front kick as slow as possible. Make sure you fully extend your leg through the full range of motion of the kick.
SLOW KICK & HOLD: From your guarding position execute a front kick as slow as possible. Fully extend your leg through the full range of motion of the kick. At the end of your kick hold your leg out there for 5 seconds whilst holding your kick out there try to raise your leg up.
BAG KICKS: With a partner use a kick bag or paddle to execute a set number of kicks e.g.: 5. whilst executing your kicks get the bag holder to move the bag or paddle back so it is just out of your kicking range on 2 or 3 of the kicks. Have them do this at random times so it does not become predictable. Make sure that the person doing the kicks is aware of what this exercise entails so as to avoid injury.
Written by Lachlan Cooper Chief Instructor United Taekwondo AMAHOF Inductee 2010