Saturday, July 23, 2011

Training to Counter “Kicks”

  One of the most discussed aspects of training in a martial art, is in regards to countering a kick made by an assailant. Presumably, because the martial arts tend to utilize leg techniques, more than any other form of Hand to Hand methods of personal conflict. 

  Despite the “sport” emphasis upon head height kicking methods, the most commonly encountered kicking methods will be the front kick and/or the roundhouse kick. These also are commonly executed with the intent of striking the stomach/ribs (areas). It seems every Tom, Dick and Harriet, have been shown, or have seen these two popular kicks. If there's going to be a kick utilized, it's most often going to be one, if not both of (some form of) these two kicking methods.
 The advantage (at least to our student's) is that neither are necessarily practical when standing close to an opponent. Though the knee could be utilized, it also suffers from vulnerability to counter-strike techniques.
  What's most commonly encountered (when standing close to an aggressor), is that they will step back, before throwing a kick (or even a punch for that matter). This provides room for them to execute the motion, and to establish momentum for the strike/kick.
  Though sounding strange, it is often part of how they have been trained (to act/react when in a confrontational situation). It's (also) commonly taught that by initially retreating, one is (avoiding?) preventing being struck by their opponent (in this case, the tori).
  In the RyuTe methodology, this retreating motion (By an aggressor) is often the first indication of an aggressive action. RyuTe student's practice attacking the remaining leg as the aggressor steps rearward. Even if/when the aggressor has already began their kicking attempt, student's are taught to attack the support leg (of the aggressor).
  I've had numerous individual's (and student's) “claim” that they could step-back, and still be able to execute a kick (upon me). It hasn't happened yet, I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I have Extreme doubts as to it's occurrence.
  Training in these regards, is (some-what) limited. The risk of (accidental) injury is fairly high, so greater caution is required during it's practice. Though we have (in the past) utilized Padded Gear during it's practice, my own experience has found it's use to be more detrimental than anything. Because of that, we usually restrict this particular practice to the higher kyu ranks. This is mostly done because (presumably) student's of that range have usually acquired at least some measure of control (over their own kicking abilities).
  They begin their practice (in the usual manner) by pairing off, at arm's length (distance) apart from one another, both facing and square to one another. The first exercise, has the uke (aggressor) take a step back (with either foot) and the execute a kick (front kick or roundhouse) at the tori. This kick should be aimed at the mid-section of the tori. As the uke initially motions their leg rearward (while stepping back), the tori will raise one leg (as if protecting the groin). This motion is done in a manner that quickly raises the knee, until the thigh is level (to the ground).
  As the uke has stepped rearward, they have had to leave one leg (unless they “hopped” like a bunny rabbit, LOL) behind. For the majority of kicks that are, or even can be utilized, this will be the supporting leg during the execution of any kick by the aggressor.
It is this leg, that the tori's own counter-kick should be executed towards/against. Dependent upon situational circumstances, this could be a straight kick (using the bottom of the striking foot) or a front kick (using the ball or top of the striking foot).
  It is very common, for student's to initially not raise their knee (when an aggressor steps-back). This comes from improper training (be it on their part, or from their instructor's). It (also) is an ingrained result of “sport sparring” (to not raise the knee). Having NOTHING to do with REALITY, sport sparring doesn't train you to react correctly in a real situation.
  The tori's kick, should be directed towards the uke's support leg, slightly above the knee (if using the bottom of the kicking foot) or on the inner mid-thigh,(when using the ball or top of the striking foot). When using the bottom of the striking foot, the kick's intent is to rotate the uke's knee (sideways), and press rearward (sideways to the uke) and downward. This will place damaging pressure upon the uke's ankle (which is one reason why we don't “kick and return” with this, or many other of our kicks). For obvious reasons, this manner of execution cannot be fully carried out in practice. Student's will commonly (only) place the bottom of the kicking foot above the knee of the uke.
  If the kick is performed as a front kick, we would (usually) target the mid-thigh using the ball or top of the striking foot. Though either kick could be used (in either location) we stress that student's attempt specific reactions from either executed methods.
  As stated previously, this practice can have a high-risk of injury if/when improperly done. For that reason we limit it to student's who are experienced and can control their own kicking ability.

RyuTe also use's Counter hand strikes (to the aggressor's leg) , though not in this exercise (to hard on the uke, LOL).