Monday, December 15, 2014

Older and Still Kicking

This is a picture of me executing a back wheel kick, reaching as high as I can. This picture, as my son once said is, "surprisingly unimpressive." Still, it represents a significant improvement from where I began.

I was 36 when I started my martial arts journey, and at that time I could successfully execute 19 jumping jacks before I was totally spent. Since class generally started with 100 jumping jacks, you can envision how well the remaining 55 minutes unfolded. Think of a wounded three-toed sloth being dragged behind a Dodge Ram pickup over gravel; barefoot.

When our instructor called for leg stretches, I was able to swing my leg all the way up to my waist. Yes; all that way.

However limited my flexibility, strength, speed, and endurance may be today; these are infinitely better than they were 20 years ago. I stand 5'7" and can reliably round-kick or back-wheel kick a person of my own height. Again, I'm not setting any records, but that's OK. I'm better than I was, and I'm not sliding backwards.

The height of the kick is only one measure of kick effectiveness; and not the most important one at that. A high kick that sails above an attacker's head isn't likely to save your life, but one that connects with the opponent's thigh and inflicts a "charlie horse" just might.

Having a super high kick is great as it gives you options. If you can kick a guy in the temple, you can also strike the ear, nose, cheek, throat, shoulder, chest, rib and anything below. You have options.

Not being able to kick an attacker in the ear hole, only means you have to hit something lower - it doesn't mean you can't or don't have an effective kick. I have a student that cannot kick above his waist. That's OK as the first Black Belt level self defense technique we teach starts with a side-kick to the opponent's knee.

Good kicks are useful, practical, and effective self defense techniques at any height and any age.

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