Traditional Squared Front Kick Compensations, Flexibility Requirements and Injuries.
The article talks about a "Traditional" front kick and issues associated with it. Some styles and instructors insist on the supporting leg to be facing in the direction of the kick. The acceleration of the kick is drawn from the sharp pelvic thrust. In kinesiological terms a posterior pelvic tilt.
The biggest issue with a front kick thrown into the target directly in front, is the hamstrings flexibility. More specifically lateral hamstring flexibility. Biceps Femoris (the two outside head of the hamstrings) are often tighter than the two medial heads. This makes the kick thrown directly in front more "flexibility challenging" than the one thrown on the side.
The supporting leg is a factor as well. Even if the torso is squired, but the supporting leg is turned out, the posterior pelvic tilt has more range. This is a compensatory range, when the pelvic has to move and compensate for the lack of length in the back of the thigh.
So to test how high you can thrown the kick without compensation, you can try this. Lay down on your back and lift one leg straight up. That is about the angle that you can throw the kick at.
It would be fair to mention arguments both ways. (For the range above or below the one shown in the test)
On one hand, with slight compensation from the pelvis, the kick can go higher. But those compensations can lead to injury, and reduction in speed and power.
On the other hand, a kick should not be thrown at it's maximum passive flexibility capacity, at full speed, without a target. This is because the hamstrings is used to decelerate the kick and can get injured, when forced to contract in mechanically disadvantageous range against a usually stronger quadriceps.
This is the program that develops the kicking leg of the front line kicks. Here is a more in depth explanation.
This program is aimed at two things
In simple terms:
- flexibility in the back of the leg, and
- strength in the front of the leg.
When it comes to elasticity and general strength to perform a kick correctly, all front line kicks share the same strength/flexibility requirements.
(Front Line Kicks Being: All Variations of the Front Kick, Axe Kick, Inside Crescent Kick, and Outside Crescent Kick)
P.S. don’t confuse strength to do the kick properly and kicking power
To understand this concept let’s compare punching and kicking. General strength is needed to extend the straight punch and hold it to the opponent face and power is to actual punch with force. It’s important to understand this distinction. Since technical strength and power are different things.
Strength and Form
However, having the strength to do the kick correctly, will improve many aspects of the kick, including power. Front Kick is the most basic kick, and yet so few martial artists have a proper form. Knowing what the proper form looks like and producing it at will are completely different things.
To throw a kick properly, 15-35 degrees of hip flexion are needed extra, on the top of what the intended kicking height requires. The reason in such a large range difference (15-35 is 20 degree difference) is due to the strength of the muscle that flexes the hips.
The Stronger muscles that hold the leg up the less flexible one can be. The weaker a person in that area, the more flexible they need to be.
If the paragraph above is confusing, here it is in simpler terms. If you want to kick comfortably to the solar plexus, you need enough flexibility to kick to the face.
This program is very short and to the point. It attacks both fronts.
- Zaichik Stretching Technique develops flexibility.
- Reciprocal Inhibition and Antagonist Short Range Conditioning Develop Strength.
In proper sequence of skill development, this program should precede other modalities of the kick. It comes before Endurance, Control, Accuracy, Speed, Power, etc.
Do you need this program?
Extend a front kick to your own head level. Hold it for few seconds. If your body is straight, back is not curved forward, and you feel comfortable. You have enough strength and flexibility, and you don’t need this program.
If your back is hunched and/or your kick can’t be comfortably held at your head level even for few seconds, you need the program.