Question: Sifu, can you please give me advice how to improve my Hung Ga kicks – front kicks, side kicks etc.?
Answer: Hung Kyun, although a typical Southern Chinese style, has a very profound arsenal of kicking techniques – front kicks (Liu Yam Geuk, Chyun Sam Geuk), side kicks (Fu Mei Geuk), angular kicks/sweeps (Kau Sou Geuk) etc.
Below are some useful tips how to improve your kicking techniques.
- Work on your stances – “stance training” (Jaat Ma) has many benefits. “Four Level Stance” (Sei Ping Ma) strengthens and stretches the adductors (important for side splits and side kicks), “Meridian Stance” (Ji Ng Ma) strengthens/stretches quadriceps and hip flexors (important for front split and front kicks). Gradually increase the time of standing in the stance to at least 5 minutes.
- Stretch – use contract/relax stretching method. Get into the position, tense your muscles for about 5 seconds (build the tension gradually!), release and relax, and immediately increase the range of motion. Repeat. When the ROM doesn’t increase any more, hold the last tension for about 30 seconds. Select just 1 stretch for a body part, do cca. 3-5 sets per session, 3 times a week, in the end of your martial arts practice (not before!).
- Get strong – deadlifts, squats, lunges, with weights (kettlebells or barbell). Please take notice that I wrote “get strong”, not “increase the muscle mass”. Bodybuilding routine is one of the worst things you can do for your martial arts training, so please don’t.
- Do dynamic stretching exercise – very popular in Northern styles (see the video above), part of the “fundamental training” (Gei Bun Gung). Modern science confirms the benefits of dynamic stretching – if you do it in the morning, it will help you reset your dynamic flexibility for the ret of the day, and you will be able to kick without a warmup. Do in the morning your joint-mobility routine or a set, and after that do various leg swings. Don’t just use the momentum, “lead” the kick, and stop before the stretch reflex kicks in. Do as many sets and reps as needed to reach your maximum range of motion for that day, than stop. Beginners will usually do multiple sets of dozens of reps, advanced student just one set of 10-12 reps. Practice the dynamic stretches twice a day, in the morning and as a part of your warm-up/move prep before your martial arts training.
- Practice your kicks – of course. Useful method is called “Art of One Hundred Kicks”. Do a hundred kicks during your martial arts session – stop when the technique and quality goes down the hill. Do the kicks on your own, kicks the poles, sandbags, kicking shields. Do your kicks fast, using explosive power, or very slowly, holding the finishing position for couple of seconds. Build up your “flexibility reserve” – be able topic higher in he training then what you will use in actual fighting.
- Spar – don’t strive for being the master in isolated skills – you have to use them in sparring and fighting. Hung Ga Kyun kicks are not only about the speed, power and skill, but timing tactic, and strategy.
Pavel Macek Sifu, Practical Hung Kyun
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