Some time ago on the now defunct United Goju Forum Steve Rowe wrote that anyone could kick head height as long as the alignment was correct. This was met with some scepticism and derision, one poster wrote that there’d be a line of people from his club wanting assistance. At the time I didn’t quite get it but at Primal last year in one session Steve Morris showed this statement to be true.
First he had us against the wall, side on, swinging the kicking leg up so that when it was in contact with the wall we’d reached the finish position. Of course kicking the wall there was no finish as such but the body was in a ‘straight’ line with the head below the kicking foot; the lower the head the higher the foot. I found that it was essential to turn more than you thought was necessary; it requires that you have a go.
While an improvement was instant I spent a lot of time practising and hallelujah head kicks were possible for the first time in 10 years or something. ButI had to try this drill out on someone who really struggled with high kicks. There’s one bloke at our club who really fits the bill but using the described drill and others he was able to kick higher than he has ever benn able to. He carried a lot of stiffness around the hips but was really pleased with his progress.
If a person has very good flexibility they can often kick high regardless of alignment, the trouble is the compromised technique also has compromised power. This reminds me of when I was in Greece on holiday many years ago visiting the friend of my girlfriend. She’d been working there for years as a dancer and her boyfriend was a king fu instructor. I went along and trained with him and we got on. We ended up following them and the girls dance troupe to Kos where they were performing. We did some training on the roof of the hotel and some of the dancers joined in. The dancers were able to perform high round kicks comfortably due to their flexibility but did so as if they were dancing. The leg went up high but the alignment was out hugely reducing power generation. Fine for ‘dancing martial arts’ but not a lot of use if you want to kick a head!
This example clearly shows the importance of correct body alignment when performing a high round kick but then the body has to be aligned correctly to the target to allow correct body alignment. This holds veracity for other techniques, when punching the body needs to be aligned to the target correctly to allow maximum power to be delivered. It’s a little like the golfer addressing the ball before driving for the green, if he’s got his body incorrectly lined up, if his feet are incorrectly placed he’s not going to optimise the power in his shot.
Another, closely related consideration is the direction of force, vector, of the strike. The body has to be correctly aligned in itself and in relation to the target, but thats another post.