As long as we are on the topic of basics this week, let’s take a closer look at the side kick. Much like vanilla ice cream or a good black suit, the side kick is a classic that stands well on its own, but can also be dressed up with a jump or a spin. The side kick will never be as flashy as a twist kick over your shoulder or a jump front kick over the top of your head, but when is the last time you saw someone break 5 boards with either of those techniques?
The side kick is a purely black and white technique, with no strange grey variations or cheats (I’m looking at you here round kick, with your ball of the foot or instep both as acceptable striking surfaces, and you front kick with your weird thrust kick cheater cousin). Odds are almost certain that you learned a side kick during your very first taekwondo class, and when executed properly it is by far the strongest technique in your taekwondo arsenal. So then, why in the world would you ever see someone not break a board with a side kick? I’m so glad you asked!
Today we have two very special guests with us – Mr. Bobby Lacy, 4th Degree Black Belt, and Mrs. Jenny Lacy, 7th Degree Black Belt. They are going to help take us through some examples of the most common ways students are performing a side kick incorrectly. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but they are the most common mistakes we see on a day-to-day basis. We’re also going to have a little fun today in our blog, for two reasons. First, we like to have a good laugh in Valley Ranch, and we like to make our students laugh too. Laughter is good for your state of mind, and good for your abs. Secondly, your instructor has probably explained how to correctly do a side kick about 18 million times in his or her career, give or take. After a while everything starts to sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown. Hopefully a little humor and a lot of bad puns will help you finally translate what it is they’ve been saying. So, without further ado…
Mrs. Lacy Teaches a Side Kick
Today Mrs. Lacy is teaching the class how to do a good side kick. Mrs. Lacy is a very good instructor, but Mr. Lacy is playing with his target instead of paying attention. Oh dear…Good luck Mrs. Lacy!
Ok, Mr. Lacy already made a mistake. Can you spot it? Look closely.
When you do a side kick you should never, ever step in front of your kicking foot. There are two main reasons. First, on a side kick you are supposed to pivot your base foot 180 degrees (verb – to turn the foot you stand on to a specific angle, which is predetermined by the type of kick in question, away from the target). Secondly, the power in the side kick comes from the hips and moves in a straight line. By stepping in front of his kicking foot, his hips and foot aren’t in a straight line, so he’s losing all of his power. The end result of this kick is going to look something like this:
While Mr. Lacy’s racing stripes on his pants are pretty, they help to demonstrate how far off course this kick is.
Let’s try again.
No, no Mr. Lacy. We are doing a side kick, not Hulk stomping the ground. When you chamber your knee, you should pick your foot up so that it is even with your knee (verb – to pull your knee across your body, as close to your opposite shoulder as you can; the chamber helps to rotate your hips for power, and gives your foot more room to accelerate towards the target which also creates more power). If you are very flexible and not kicking pretty much straight out from your hip, then your foot should be on the straight line between your knee and the target. As long as we are on the subject of kicking high, you should never sacrifice proper technique for height, whether it’s on a side kick, a round kick, or any other kick. How do you know if you’re sacrificing technique? It all comes back to those straight lines. If your butt is sticking out, it’s wrong.
Ok, take number three. It looks like this time Mr. Lacy somehow forgot about those straight lines and turned his body at the last second so that his toes are pointing the wrong direction on the target. Do you notice what’s not on the target? His heel. Do you remember what the striking surface is supposed to be on a side kick? The edge of your heel. Why does it make a difference what part of your foot you hit with on a side kick? Let’s take a closer look at that for a minute.
Mr. Lacy has a big foot. In fact, his foot is so big that it takes up almost this entire 6″ board! If he practices hitting the target with his whole foot for 2 years, by the time he finally gets his Brown Belt and starts breaking boards, what part of his foot do you think he’s going to end up using to hit the board? That’s right, his whole foot. So why don’t you want to hit as much of the board as possible? I’m going to need some help here, and judging by the look on her face in the last picture, Mrs. Lacy has her hands full with Mr. Lacy right now…
Special guest instructor and 8th Degree Black Belt Mr. Robby Lacy?!?! How did you get here? Mr. Lacy is here to help make a point about why you don’t want to hit as much of the board as possible. You want to concentrate all of your power, not spread it out. That’s why he brought his ax along today. If the goal were to cover the most surface area (i.e. your whole foot) then you would use the flat side of the ax to chop wood, but you don’t. You use the pointy surface when you need to cut something. Well, your foot is the ax. You don’t want to use the whole thing, you want to use the pointy surface (which is the edge of your heel).
Ok, let’s get back to our side kick. We have a lot to remember now. Here is a quick recap. You have to step behind your kicking foot. Then, you’re going to pick up both your knee (to chamber) and your foot. Focus on those straight lines, and make sure your toes are turned sideways so that you can hit with just the edge of the heel. Ready? Here goes.
WAIT MR. LACY! YOU ONLY DID HALF OF THE KICK!!!! After you hit the target, you’ve got to re-chamber. Then you get to put your foot down. Alright, last try.
And the crowd goes wild!