Yoko Geryi Kekomi

Review your approach to training (2 of 5 articles)

On his blog, sensei Lyall Stone says his favourite techniques are, “Anything that ends the conflict indefinitely…”

Some karate students do not create the necessary power or speed with their kicks to achieve this objective, some of us already kick effectively, but there is always room for improvement and therefore it is ‘back to basics’.

Here are some ideas for Yoko Geryi Kekomi training, although the main principles can be applied to most kicks.

To avoid the risk of injury, as groin strains can take a long time to heal, make sure you are warmed up first. Working with a partner is good as you can check each other out, and give each other support. If training on your own, use a wall or a chair. You will start slowly and build up speed over the course of 15/20 minutes – alternate legs after three kicks.

Your training partner is there to support you and to keep reminding you to relax, breathe out during the kick, and to keep it slow and low. In the dojo there is often too much of a rush to kick fast and too high too soon. Your initial objective is to produce perfect kicks in slow motion and no higher than chudan.

From your best zenkusu-dache, with your hips in the hanmi position, the kicking leg knee is picked up as you close your hips (shomen position) and keep the standing knee bent. Ideally you should not come up – your head should be at the same height as it was in zenkusu-dache and keep your back straight. Your partner, or the chair or wall is allowing you to hold this position with some stability.

To initiate the second phase of the kick you should find it helpful to concentrate on rotating the kicking leg, left leg kick rotate clockwise and right leg kick rotate anticlockwise. You can support the kicking leg with your arm and use it to help with the rotation.  The more you rotate the more extension you will get and your foot will end up in the correct position with your heel higher than your little toe.

During this second phase, the heel of your standing foot is rotated, so it is directed at your target. In other words, your standing foot rotates a full 180°. When kicking slowly, after the kick is complete you return to front stance  and rotate the heel back  180°.

For the beginner, there is quite a lot to think about, and this is why you do it slow. Y ofou can analyse your body movement, get everything right and avoid unnecessary injury to yourself.

Maximising the power

Build up the speed to medium and now is the time to bring in two more important points, both of which will convert an average kick into a devastating force.

All my seniors stress the importance of committing to the kick. This means straightening the standing leg at the time of impact and at the same time the kicking leg is reaching/stretching/driving your foot into the target.
When this is done correctly you cannot step back (so you cannot go back to the original front stance as you could when doing this slowly), as the only way is forward. This is because you are using all of your body and driving through from your well-grounded standing foot through to the point of impact.

When you get your rhythm, you will kick more efficiently and quickly if you are paying attention to the principles of compression when preparing to kick and expansion during the delivery. This principal is explained on Sensei Andre Bertel’s blog.

A good exercise at the end of a kicking practice session is to see how it works on a heavy bag.

When you practice karate it is about technique, not brute force. I have been knocked over by well-executed kicks, and the age and stature of the kicker was not a factor.

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