Here’s a quick karate exercise to help your students develop their front kick.
We all know that true karate power comes from using our body, and not just our limbs, right? Do this exercise with your white belts when they first learn front kick. It will get them using their body to develop power.
While I’ve got a dozen drills to help develop front kick (mae geri) , this exercise below stands head and shoulders above the rest. And the neat thing is that it’s so simple.
But first… the problem.
Let’s assume you’re teaching mae geri from heisoku dachi (feet together). The way I teach is to first have students twist their body 45 degrees to bring their kicking hip forward. Then raise the knee and point it straight ahead, and then finally make the snapping motion of the kick.
However, in my experience 90% of beginners have a hard time keeping the hip “forward” and kicking straight. One of two things usually happens:
- The hip stays forward but the kick goes across at 45 degrees (think stage girls performing the can-can)
- The kick goes straight, but the hip collapses (reverts back) to being square on.
Rarely are beginners able to keep their hip forward, their body rotated and their kick straight.
Ever had this problem, or is it just me?
So, here’s how you fix it. This is how I learned to make mae geri in my first class 25 years ago…
Take a bo staff and place it behind your back by wrapping your arms over the top and hold both of your fists by your side in the usual “hikite” position.
(Remember those stories your parents would tell you about how their teachers would make them sit up straight at school, by placing the ruler behind their back? Or is it just me again?)
Anyway, once you’re in position and standing in heisoku dachi turn your body 45 degrees so that one end of the bo staff faces 45 degrees relative to the direction you’re facing. Your hip should be “forward” at this point. Now pick up your knee, keeping the bo pointing diagonally, and make the kick.
(Just in case you want to do it wrong, the examples below show how to do the kick incorrectly with the bo staff.)
Now to make sure this doesn’t happen with your students, stand behind them and assist by turning the bo staff 45 degrees and then have them kick straight. Then twist it back the other way and have them kick again. Repeat as many times as necessary until they can turn and kick with their hip in the forward position. I do this exercise with my students in pairs. One is the assistant while one kicks. They do 20 kicks and change roles.
This is a really *simple* exercise but extremely effective in developing good technique with plenty of power.
Try it and let me know how you go…