Image credit: Andrew Tan/SportSG
Kicking is one of the most important techniques in taekwondo, used in promotion tests and matches. From patterns to spars and even breaking, foot techniques are used in almost every aspect of the sport.
Accuracy in kicking is very important, as different point of impacts – especially during breaking – can have very different results. One way of improving your accuracy is to practise kicking at small objects until you are able to hit your target. For instance, tie a tennis ball to a string and leave it hanging. Attempt to kick the tennis ball. You’ll find that it can be very challenging, as it has a smaller area compared to usual target areas. This is a very good drill to improve accuracy due to the small target, and you will also train your reaction towards a moving object since the ball will swing about after being kicked.
Another way to improve accuracy during sparring matches is to train with a friend. Your opponent during training should be wearing a hogu, which is the padded chest protector. Most hogus come with circles or sub-divided sections, and you should aim to kick at these specific markers. This is a useful exercise as it enables you to get used to a moving target.
Besides practicing your kicks to improve on your power, you should also do squats and jumps
as it builds up the muscles in your thighs. Start slow with these legs exercises, because too much of these workout in a short period of time can overwhelm and cause more damage.
One other useful thing to remember when trying to improve your strength is the Theory of Power. Keeping the theory in mind during matches can maximise the impact of your kicks. For instance, time your kicks such that the point of impact coincides with your opponent rushing at you. This amplifies the power of your kick as it combines the speed of your opponent as well as the amount of strength you’ve put in the kick.
Speed is important in taekwondo, as sparring matches only last a short two minutes. Being able to kick faster gives you an advantage against your opponent. One good way of improving your kicking speed is to get into the habit of planning for more than one kick in an attack. Often, players kick once and wait several seconds before attempting another kick, which makes them lose their advantage. Plan your follow-up move before you even make your first strike. When you’re prepared, you do not need time to consider your next move.
Another trick to faster kicks is to relax before striking. If you are too tensed while kicking, your muscles will be tight and this leads to a slower reaction time. Being relaxed enables for more fluidity in your motion, which also leads to faster and more accurate kicks.
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