Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grappling vs. The High Kick

This video demonstrates Aikido defenses vs. Tae Kwon Do kicking techniques. Back in my old TKD days, everybody used to say "Hey! You can't grab my leg"! This grabbing the leg was usually done by a beginning or mid-level student that is overwhelmed by the superior kicking of a high-ranked student or instructor. It is done instinctivly and without effort. That is why relying on high, long-range kicks SUCKS for a real fight. Anytime you extend your limbs too far beyond your core area you risk being taken off balence, thrown to the ground and could potentially have your leg damaged.
This isn't to say that a kick to the head isn't a powerful finishing technique, but it should never, never be used as a lead-in strategy. I read something by a Vietnamese martial artist who was very small in stature. He said "When you want to chop a big tree down, you don't start at the top". In other words, take out the base at the knee, shin, stomp to the ankle or instep. I have come to favor the Wing Chun "toes out" low stomping kick to the shin and knee. You can face centerline-to-centerline, allowing you to fight with either arm or leg. It does require you to be in closer, but you can avoid the long, reaching overcommitment of high side and round kicks.


Marc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marc said...

Well displayed. A lot of tkd practitioners become over confident with their kicking abilities and tend to forget the cons with kick based attacks.

Bob Patterson said...


That is interesting. After 1st dan there's a chance I may be without a school. If that happens I can choose a new art or start over in another style of tko. I actually almost emailed you about this but your post forced my hand (and I may still email you because we followed similar paths and have similar opinions). One of the "other" arts I've considered if I can't pursue 2nd dan in my school is aikido. Based on complimenting tko, and boxing, and a realistic self-defense perspective, do you think it's worth my time? Or should I avoid aikido altogether? Also, I'm 40.


My school teaches the dangers of high kicks in a street fight. Not all tko schools do. As for the video, I wonder how much was "choreographed" and how much is real?

In wc we practiced some trapping of kicks. However, when I tried on sabum number one he hit so fast I could not snag. Only on rare occasion but he gave as good as he got. That's why I wonder about the video. I can see the aikido guy flowing with some but all? You'd think a good kicker might land one. Then again, maybe I'm wrong?


Dojo Rat said...

Yes, you are right Bob. My Korean master's top student was also my room mate at a big house a bunch of us rented. He was a 3d Dan at the time and a 3-time National full contact champion. His kicking skills were exceptional, but at times I could still get in on him. Now, of course "the rules" restricted what I could do. No grabbing and sweeping, so I was at a pummeled disadvantage. Good kickers can be a threat, especially if they are kicking low.
I loved Aikido, and it made all my joint-locking skills better by introducing spiral motion. It is still limited in ways though.
I see our paths on a parallel, with fusion training in multiple arts. Is there any way you can find something a little less structured? For instance, at our Dojo, we have two ex-TKD guys (me included) that also Black-Belted in Kenpo, another that is also 3d Dan in Kenpo, a guy who trained in Kajukenbo and Boxed in college (Which helped us with boxing skills) and an exceptional 3d Dan in Goju that also brought us Small-circle jujitsu. I also have traveled with this training partner to Taiji, Wing Chun and Bagua seminars for several years.
--To sum up, we are fortunate to have a very ecclectic group and the strength of our training lies in the lack of formal structure. Everyone has somthing to contribute and we have dispensed with the hard-style forms. Drill, drill, drill.
What about talking to various instructors and bouncing around several different Dojo's? I think if you are consistant in your scheduling, most instructors would accept that. They will try to recruit you that much harder!
40 is not too old for Aikido. They always use good mats, and you are used to wood floors now. Let me know what you think...

Dojo Rat said...

Great breaks on your test. Six boards is pretty damed good!

JoseFreitas said...

George Leonard took up Aikido in his 40's, achieved 1st Dan at 50 and went on to 5th dan. He must be in his 80's now. So everything is possible! Just be careful to take it easy and be gentle on your knees and lower back, which seem to be the problem areas for Aikidokas.

Although I too tend to sneer at high kicking, the truth is some people can consistently kick high, hard and with difficult to defend angles. My good friend, Dr. Kevin Menard is a savateur (as well as Xingyi practitioner) and can kick the bejeezus out of anyone really hard, and his kicks come in at really weird angles. He rarely kicks as high as the head, but frequently targets the ribs at all heights. Trust me, he can do it very well.

Also, Wim Demeere, a belgian friend of mine is able to kick high, at the head, fast and hard. Native ability in strength and flexibility and hard training can create very good kickers. They are in the minority, but are very dangerous.

When I trained at Sifu James McNeil's school in 99, he had another student there for a few weeks, he is a high ranking Hapkido practitioner, a half italian, half Korean guy (can't remember his name), he could throw amazingly fast kicks at the head, at very close range, they came in from under you and were mind boggling.

The truth is, if you're training in a very realistic art, and putting in an hour of training a day, you'll probably still be clobbered by a Taekwondo guy who trains for 5 hours a day.

Hand2Hand said...

Great post!!!

My old Tang Soo Do instructor allowed us to grab legs when someone kicked, as long as we punched with the other hand.

It taught us a lesson - don't throw a kick unless you're sure you can bring it back.

My Yang Tai Chi sifu had a different defense against a high kick.

He worked as an art teacher at a local college. He had one smart-ass student with a shodan in TKD in his class, ragging on Tai Chi.

One day, Mr. Shodan asked my sifu, Ed, "If I throw a kick at you, could you stop it?"

Ed said "Sure."

So they faced off and Mr. Shodan came in on Ed ready to throw his kick. Ed stood there, picked his nose and ate it.

It so surprised the Shodan that he stopped dead in his tracks. When he realized what happened, he burst out laughing. Ed stopped his kick.

For the rest of the semester, Mr. Shodan would bow to Ed when he saw him.

Charles James said...

Hi, All and Dojo Rat:

All kicks are good with only one caveat. It depends on the teaching method.

If you are exclusive to supo-tsu karate then what you see here in the clip will get points.

If you are more inclined to teach budo then those kicks were horrible.

In the end I teach budo and since Isshinryu uses low snap kicks which when done right are extremly fast and hard to block.

Note the statement when done right. No matter the kick, be it high or low, if not done correctly it means nothing.

Finally, with me and my way I use kicks strictly for the finish, if necessary. Ergo why a lot of styles particularly mine use a ration of 80% hand and 20% kicks.

Now, for practice purposes what they were doing in this clip is great as it gives both the opportunity to PRACTICE. If they step it up a notch each time they improve then they both benefit.

Kanpai Karate-ka!

[Mat] said...

Nice article.!