Today’s class consisted of a few different things which included kicks, kihon and kata but a good amount of time was spent doing kicking drills.
Side thrust kicks anyone?
Sensei Noia often teaches classes where he focuses in kicks but today had a little extra focus, especially on side thrust kick drills. Everyone started out with a white pad and one hand on the wall. For example, you held your right hand on the wall, while holding a pad in your left out to the side, then you execute a side thrust kick, set the pad on your foot and leg and hold it there. After, a few seconds said back and you pulled the kicking leg back and grabbed the pad before it fell on the floor. There was 5 second hold for each count until number 10 where you hold it out for 10 seconds.
The next drill was a simple chamber of the side thrust kick. Again with one hand on the wall, you bring your kicking leg up in front, pivot on the foot on the floor and then turn your hip over, internally rotating your leg and hold until Sensei says down.
That drill was followed by a full side thrust kick over the pad but the first one was a low kick and the second was higher but it was done with full speed and retracting the kick as fast as possible. The count between the two kicks was fast and the focus was on chambering the kicking leg as fast and as high as possible.
The final kicking drill was done away from the wall standing upright. You started with the pad held out to the side with one arm, then you executed a side snap kick immediately followed by a side thrust kick. The idea was to hit the pad with the side snap kick and then follow it with the side thrust kick.
All of the drills were done on both legs and there was least a full 20 minutes of kicking going on.
Don’t step, drop down
Next came some kihon drills. These start with everyone standing in a ready stance and each time Sensei counted, you stepped out with one leg and did a block of Sensei’s choice followed with a reverse punch. The main focus of this drill was to get everyone to drop down into the stance instead of just falling into a front stance. Many times, students will stand up and then fall forward into a stance, often using the upper body instead of dropping down and using the hips to drive forward. This is also another great drill for training if you only have a small amount of space available.
End class with some kata
Ending class with kata really takes a lot of mental endurance more than physical endurance. After so many kicks and kihon drills, the legs are much like jello but this makes everyone dig deep down to do katas that look like katas.
Sensei had everyone start out with a Heian kata of their choice, then Jion and Bassai Dai and then, for the black belts, Kanku Dai, Hangsetu, Empi, Bassai Sho and then four more katas of their choice.
Doing 11 katas after all the other drills would crush most Karate students but luckily, the students in this class always give their best even though they were all walking a little funny after class.
Today’s class was full of kicking basics and many of them. Sensei Noia wants to ensure that the students who are testing, have good kicks this time and tonight was a good example of those intentions.
Let the kicks begin
We did the following basics for nearly 50 minutes:
- All from a horse stance: front punch, triple punch, rising block, inward block, outward block and downward block
- Stationary front snap kick in front stance
- Stationary front snap kick twice – one chudan other jodan and set it back behind on each kick
- Roundhouse kick the front and set it back down behind
- Hook kick to the front and set it down behind
- Side thrust kick to the front and set it back behind
- Spinning back kick then set it down behind – this was an interesting movement to say the least
- Roundhouse kick to the front and spinning back kick and set the foot down behind – this was more interesting than above
All of the above kicks were extra tough since we had to set our foot back down behind us after each kick. It requires a lot of body control especially when you are doing kicks other than front snap kick. Keeping from falling over is one important aspect that I was struggling with.
All of the following kicks were done moving forward:
- Front kick and side kick to the front
- Front kick, side kick, back kick, roundhouse kick set it down behind
- Front kick, side kick, back kick, roundhouse kick, hook kick, set it down behind
- From horse stance, the follow three moves, step across, step behind and shuffle up side thrust kick
- Step behind side thrust kick – we did these again because they are extra strong kicks
- Moving forward with roundhouse kick and spinning back kick
After all the kicks, from a front stance, we did moving forward, rising block with reverse punch, inward block with reverse punch, outward block with reverse punch and downward block with reverse punch.
Next came a quick round of one step sparring and then we did two katas to end the class.
More kicking is needed, at least for me
I can’t speak for the other students since 90% are a third to a quarter of my age, but these all these kicks were very hard for me to execute with clean form. Except for the front snap kicks and back kicks, most of them felt very off balance and even worse once I started to get tired.
With that said, classes like these really make me realize that I need to practice my kicks more often.
We started with a fairly standard warm up. We jump in place for a few, then stretch out and do some light shifting.
Excellent hip warm up…
Sensei Brien had us get into a front stance. From that point we opened our hips like in a block and then closed then like in a punch. The idea of these hip rotation drills was to get our hips warmed well and to make sure that we all understand how to use our legs and hips when doing various strikes and blocks.
Next we did our normal kihon drills, moving forward and back with rising block, downward block inward block all with reverse punch.
Sensei Brien explained something that I am sure I heard before but in a different way. He said that our hand techniques should end with our step. If we are moving forward or backward, when our knees come together, we prepare for the movement. When our foot lands and we finish the step, our hand technique finishes.
Next we worked on stationary back stance, hold the stance for about five minutes each leg and do knife hand blocks. After the stationary movements, we worked on moving forward and back but we aded the nulite in a front stance with at the end.
Kicks, kicks and more kicks…
Next, we got a partner and a pad. Our partner stood in a horse stance, holding the pad about belt level and we held a roundhouse kick position. Sensei then counted and we threw a slow roundhouse kick over pad. We then held in the extended position and then snapped it back when Sensei told us to. We did almost the same movement but Sensei had us snap the leg back as fast as possible.
Next came side thrust kicks. We did the kick over the pad and held it until Sensei said we could bring it back. For the first time ever, I was able to kick at close to or above belt level. I am not sure what changed but I sure hope it stays that way.
It was an excellent class!