Won-hyo: Where are your eyes on the back of your arse?
I got the group to do a side kick drill on a kick shield today. The point was to get students who are just learning the side kick to walk up to the bag, set themselves up and give it a decent kick with moderate power. This would teach them distancing and reach, targeting the kick shield, and then kicking it with proper skeletal support.
I was noticing some spinning of the kick shield. When I kick the thing, the power is 'injected' into the shield and forces the person holding it backwards. Most often when the beginners kick it the target spins one way or the other.
Of course there were other problems, using the wrong muscles, not setting up the kick right, falling away from the target, etc. But the main issue was when the kick was applied more or less correctly, the power wasn't transmitted into the person holding the kick shield.
I then noticed that when the person approaches the shield, for example kicking with a left side kick, they would zero in on it, swing their left leg toward centre line and then fire the kick off. However, when they do this, their support leg is clearly 10-15 centimeters off the perpendicular line towards the target. Meaning that they were aligning their heads to the target (so they can 'see' the target directly) but yet their legs were not aligned to it. So when they kick the shield square on, the kick really is coming from a side-on diagonal, hitting the shield in the centre and then torques it around the person holding it. The net result is the kick shield is mostly thrown off toward the left of the person holding it.
Do you also have similar problems kicking a kick shield with a side kick or other kicking technique?
All this is because the student is targeting the kick shield with his eyes and there is a horizontal difference between the position of his eyes and the fulcrum of his weapon (in this case the kicking hip). Worse is when the beginner turns more to the left to look at the target full on ... he sees the target swinging off to the opponent's left and he aims more to the left. This just ruins it further!
The trick is to understand that the eyes need to be calibrated taking the fulcrum of the hip of side kick as the point of origin. Meaning you need to have eyes on the back of your arse!!! All you need to get here is to use peripheral vision to 'capture' the side of the kick shield and off you go.
This point of origin concept is an interesting one that I use for intermediate and advanced students in order for them to understand how to use angles of entry around the opponent's coverage and blocks. Get your students to drop to their knees, and look up at their opponents standing in fighting stance. The view is different isn't it?* It offers you a totally different vantage point in order to understand how to place kicks onto the body of the opponent. Targeting opportunities look different and your students get an idea of how to take advantage of loopholes so that their kicks adapt to their sparring opponents.
*If your intermediate and advanced students don't understand the differences in vantage points from placing their eyes at hip level - in terms of kicks, that means they do not understand that kicks can penetrate and hit specific points on their opponent's body. This may also mean that you might want to reconsider allowing students to practicing light kicking drills on their partner's bodies rather than using kick shields or pads. These training aids are sometimes detrimental to the targeting of kicks onto the body proper as they condition the eyes away from the body core (most targets are held away from the body or center line).
Won-hyo: Side Kick
Knee Position after the Kick
Won-hyo Blog Posts
Beginner Sparring Part Two: Objectives