Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well healed

Today's core class was quite a bit of fun. We worked on slow kick drills for side kicks, worked with body shields on a variety of side kicks, and finally grabbed hand pads and tried out 360 round kicks.

One of the drills was on a step-through side kick. From a fighting stance, the rear leg is brought up and cocked with a 90-degree bend (hip rotation is a BIG part of this one) while the front leg rotates 180 degrees to support you, then the kick is delivered like a typical side kick. Besides hip rotation, that supporting leg and foot MUST get full rotation to be effective.

My instructor related that this particular kick tore the ACL of the school's owner long ago when he failed to rotate his supporting leg! As we worked on them, he declared that if I could deliver step-through side kicks, I must be well-healed.

Later we added a combo of step-through side kick with a turning back kick. The result is that you almost pivot the kicking leg as it strikes your opponent, turning and swapping legs to deliver the second kick. An interesting and very challenging combo, but not practical in sparring except as a final shot since it eats up a lot of energy.

For fun we turned to 360 round kicks. Take a typical tornado kick, tilt your axis of rotation back maybe 30 degrees from vertical and add more hip rotation--presto, a 360 round kick. Being somewhat adept at tornado kicks, this came to me quickly after just a few tries. Man, did those pads make some nice, thunderous pops, quite fun to do!

My sister came to town for a Triathlon this Saturday that the family team is participating in. I invited her to watch sparring class back on Monday, and unknown to me she was shooting short videos with her digital still camera. We had fun later that night analyzing the clashes frame-by-frame. I was really happy to see Danny Longlegs get into using his hands much more, and I managed to best him 1-2-3 in our last clash by sneaking quick jabbing side kicks under his guard.

Tonight made me feel quite well healed, though not necessarily fully recovered. I'd put myself at, oh, 90% since I'm still a bit stiff in the mornings!

Here's a question for ACL recoverees: How did or how will you gauge your recovery?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Testing my study habits: Duck!

My posts lately have been about sparring and how much I'm really getting it now. Spending almost 7 months laid up, one has a lot of time to study things. In sparring, I believe that knowing your opponent's style and tendencies is of the utmost importance for you to have a chance of surviving a match, let alone victory.

We have a lot of 1st and 2nd degree black belts in my sparring class that are 18 or younger. The primary thing this gives them is SPEED, which at my (ahem) more advanced age is something still in development. My best defense until I gain speed is to anticipate what might be coming at me, and work on counter-attacks accordingly.

Two Mondays ago I was up against a zippy 13-year old 1st degree. I could hold him off or drive him out of the ring with repeated side kicks, but the very moment I turned away or otherwise took my eyes off of him, he'd nail me with a flying sort of blitz punch. It's a popular attack among the young black belts.

Guess what: I noticed.

In my head I reflected on it, and played out scenarios on how to deflect or avoid that particular attack. Watched a lot of WCL, checked out YouTube videos, and noted how advanced point fighters dealt with the attack.

Last Monday I was in the ring again with the same kid, but a different outcome. Anticipating the blitz, I ducked my head back out of range while delivering the last side kick in a combo attack. The result was an introduction of foot to chest--2 points!

Tuesday's core class was also a revelation. We worked on a lot of skip kicks, a long-range attack. That night I discovered my range is a lot longer than I thought. One more thing to note when gauging distance to my opponent.

Happy 4th of July!