I had one of those lightbulb moments last night. After doing maegeri’s (front kicks) for years, something finally clicked last night. It was definitely one of those weird, frustrating but ultimately refreshing training moments you get every once in a while.
Let me give some background – maegeri’s are front kicks. The execution is simple – raise knee, leg goes out to strike with the ball of the foot, retract leg back, leg goes down. Simple. Once you get beyond elementary skills, you start perfecting your technique – grounding yourself better, make the kick faster, pull the toes back every time to ensure your striking with the ball of the foot, use your hips, perfect a “whipping” motion, dynamic extension, etc. The one problem I’ve had is that there have been numerous times practicing my kicks on vertical striking pads or on a boxing bag where I’ve mangled my little toe. I always thought it was because my little toe is somewhat demented, in that I can pull back all my other toes, but my little toe refuses to move, so if I strike, there’s an extremely good chance my toe will be bent back or to the side, which is annoying and painful. My theory is that all the abuse I’ve exposed it to over the years of having only one leg malformed it in some way, and that there wasn’t much I could do to improve the quality of my front kicks with the stupid little thing. Until last night!
I’ve found that by adjusting the horizontal angle of my foot a fraction to the right, I’m now not only kicking more prominently with the ball of my foot, but my little toe is no longer getting in the way! The extra bonus is that the slight change in angle has also re-enforced the kick, as it has brought all the bones and muscles into tighter alignment. The stupid thing is that I should have realised this ages ago, as it follows the same precepts behind any standard punch in karate – align the bones, lock them in at the point of impact and focus the strike on the two knuckles nearest the thumb. Obviously in the case of the maegeri, exchange “knuckles” for the area of the ball of the foot around your big toe.
So yes, hooray for me and my lightbulb moment. I didn’t go too full on with my kicks on the bag last night since I hadn’t warmed up my knee enough (and I was conscious of the time I had available to fit in my usual workout), but hopefully I’ll be able to get in some additional practice with my kicks from now on to improve them.
Mind, I also intended to squeeze in some additional kata before tonight’s training, so I should have done that as well. I blame it on my nerdy score-burger over the long weekend just gone, as its more convenient to place the blame on an inanimate object than myself. And because I’m so proud of my nerd achievement, I’ll also pollute the blog with a post about it in the near future 🙂