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3.0 KICKING AND STICKFIGHTING


The combination of kicking with stickfighting techniques is very effective. Since kickboxing is largely outside the scope of this book, only a few kicks will be described, mostly from a practical standpoint and for the sake of completeness.  One may ask: If kickboxing is so good, what do you need the stick for? The other side of this question is: If stickfighting is so effective, what do you need kicking for? The answers to both questions are to be found in the Introduction of the present work. It is important to make the self-protective arts accessible to as many people as possible; weaker people who cannot develop penetrating punches and destructive kicks need the ability to use such an inconspicuous-looking weapon as a stick to complement their kicks and punches. The reader will find ample evidence in this book of how well the use of kicks complements and blends in with the effective use of a stick.


BASIC KICKS


Mastering kicking techniques requires excellent balance, a good sense of distance and of the direction in which your target is moving, a good sense of timing, and above all, speed. While it is true that kicks are the most powerful blows you can deliver without a weapon, it is also true that the feet are in general considerably slower than the hands. Furthermore, standing on one foot while delivering a kick makes for rather precarious balance. It is quite clear then that you must deliver a kick with the utmost speed so as to remove yourself from this vulnerable position as soon as possible. Another reason for delivering a fast kick and withdrawing the attacking leg even faster is to avoid getting your leg caught.


We will study seven basic kicks, the mastery of which can be achieved with moderate practice and will give you much confidence. Knowledge of these kicks is amply sufficient for effective stickfighting. When kicking, the heel and the sole must be in firm contact with the floor or ground. Try as much as possible to keep the body close to the vertical. With few exceptions, as in the case of the low direct kick in which you are reaching for distance, leaning too far tends to impair your balance as well as the power of your kicks.


In order to develop powerful kicks you must first learn to kick in full balance. Kicks practiced in slow motion are excellent for developing balance control. As your balance improves, increase speed accordingly. When you can kick very fast in full balance, your next goal should be to shoot for accuracy, first at stationary, then at moving targets. Finally, strive for power with penetration by impact concentration on the target and rapid withdrawal of the attacking leg.
Practice all techniques completely and fully; do not cut corners under the pretext of speed. Do not underestimate the importance of your mental attitude; it is by far the most important attribute of success. Practice consistently in a relaxed way, with tenacity but without any anxiety. Whether you feel you are progressing or not, keep at it doggedly; results will surely follow.


All the following kicks are described from left guard 3.

 


Low Direct Kick. The preferred kicking foot is the rear one, and the specific target it is aimed at is the shinbone, which is easy to reach and offers a relatively large, vulnerable area. It may be attacked either straight forward or, preferably, slightly on the inside. The front or either front sides of the foot may be used to kick.  Thrust the rear right foot in the direction of the opponent's lower shinbone. As in all attacks, follow the general rule of aiming somewhat beyond the target and letting it come in the way. The low direct kick is delivered with a sweeping motion of the leg and a snap of the knee, which remains relatively relaxed. Toes are turned up at the moment of impact. The sweeping motion of the attacking leg starts from the hips with a slight twisting action so as to squarely face the target. The supporting leg is slightly bent, foot firmly anchored on the floor. At delivery, the body should be straight from head to ankle. In this case we are deviating from the vertical because of our attempt to reach a low target and also because we want to put our face out of the opponent's reach. Since the body faces the opponent squarely and, therefore, is rather vulnerable, we keep the arms in front of the chest, ready to parry an attack to the upper or lower part of the body. When holding a stick, we assume guard 2 with a symmetrical or asymmetrical double grip (Fig. 1).


Key Points. Keep the body out of the reach of your opponent's arms. Do not lift your shoulders. Deliver your kick with a full extension of the leg, muscles fully tensed as the foot reaches its target. Return quickly to the starting position by relaxing the leg after delivery and reversing the sequence.

 

 


High Direct Kick. The initial position is similar to that of the low direct kick. Bend your right (rear) knee fully and raise it as high as you can. The closer to the body you bring the attacking right leg, the faster and more powerful the kick. Slightly bend the knee of the supporting left leg, keeping muscles tensed and the sole in firm contact with the floor. Deliver a kick with a snap of the lower part of the leg, keeping the toes turned up. Return quickly to the initial position by first bending back the kicking leg, then lowering it so as not to disturb your balance (Fig. 2).


Key Points. Raise your kicking leg as high as possible. Its knee must be fully bent, the shin almost vertical, and the ball of the foot pulled back as much as possible. Keep the knee and lower part of the attacking leg relatively relaxed and line up the knee and toes with the target. Deliver a kick with full extension of the leg, muscles tensing completely upon impact. Return quickly to the starting position by relaxing the leg after delivery and reversing the sequence. Upon returning to the starting position, make sure to first bend the knee before lowering the kicking leg.


Note: Both the low and the high direct kicks may be delivered with the forward foot by shifting the weight to the rear foot and following the same directions. It is preferable, however, to deliver these kicks with the rear foot because one can pack more power in this way.

 


Side-of-Foot Kick. Twist your hips to the left and pivot on the ball of your left foot through a quarter turn so that its toes point squarely to the left. Leaving the right foot in its initial position, toes pointing ahead, heel off the floor, bring your right forearm in front of your groin. Your left arm is bent and the stick is vertical; the nails of the left hand are facing toward you, thumb pointing out. Keep the elbows close to the body and look through the middle of your opponent's chest from over your right shoulder. Your right fist, holding the stick, protects your groin. This is known as the gunsight position (Fig. 3). Lift the right thigh to a nearly horizontal position, bending the knee fully and bringing the sole of the cupped right foot close to the left knee. This is the ready position, in which the plane of the attacking (right) knee is at right angles to the plane of the hips, and the edge of the right foot is almost parallel to the floor (Fig. 4). Kick with a swift pumping action, making contact with the edge of the foot near the heel. The back views show the consecutive motions of the kick (Figs. 3-5).
During the kick the stick is held perpendicular to the ground, as previously explained. Return fast to the starting position by exactly reversing the instructions, taking care to bring the kicking leg back before lowering it. Follow this leg retraction technique as a general rule to minimize the chances of your leg being caught.


Key Points. Twist hips to the left so as to align the hip corresponding to the attacking right leg with the target. Besides being important for the development of supple hips, this is necessary for accuracy. Initiate all kicks from the hips, pushing them out. Pull them back as you are retracting the kicking leg. I have already mentioned the desirability of keeping the body close to the vertical; if at all, lean in the direction of the kick. The supporting leg must be slightly flexed in order to cushion the impact. (One exception is the circular kick; see p. 67.) The sole of the supporting foot must be in full contact with the floor for maximum balance. The knee and lower part of the attacking leg must be relatively relaxed for a swift and light start. Tense the leg, foot, and ankle upon impact, then pull back as swiftly as you can while relaxing the lower leg. Practice all kicks with particular care against stationary and moving targets, since judging the distance correctly and timing the impact with the full extension of the leg is important for maximum penetration and power.

Note: The side-of-foot kick, as well as the following kicks, may equally be delivered with the left foot. Pivot a quarter turn to the right, so that both feet point to the right and the left hip is lined up with the target. Kick with the left foot in exactly the same way as described for the right. After delivering the kick, quickly return to the starting position, guard 3.

 

 

Instep Kick. This kick is delivered with the instep in a whiplike upward motion, the foot in complete extension. It is specifically used for attacks to the lower abdomen and groin. Generally speaking, it will cause less damage than the other kicks because it is delivered with a relatively large area of the foot. The instep kick may be delivered from almost any position, either with the rear or the forward foot. In self-protective situations, it may be used either as a warning of further action, or as a way of creating an opening for a more powerful attack in a less sensitive area. Since the instep kick must be delivered particularly fast, it is well suited for catching an opponent off guard in the preparation of his attack. It is perhaps the most versatile kick with the widest applicability. For this reason it is recommended that you study it with great care. Get into the gunsight position as described for the side-of-foot kick and line up the right hip with the target. Lift the right knee as high as you can, the shin at approximately 45 degrees to the thigh of the supporting left leg. The attacking right foot is bent at the ankle, toes in full extension, pointing down to the oblique left, and close to the supporting leg at the level of the knee. Deliver a kick with the instep in a snappy, upward motion. Return fast to the left guard 3, taking care to retract your leg before lowering it. Hands and stick are positioned as in the side-of-foot kick (Figs. 6, 7).
 

Key Points. Same as for the side-of-foot kick. Also, at the ready position, prior to delivering the kick, the body and attacking leg must be in one plane, knee pointing toward the target. Keep the knee of the attacking leg relaxed, but tense the foot, concentrating all your power on the instep at the moment of impact. Push the hips in the direction of the kick.

 


Circular Kick. From the left guard 3, get into the gunsight position as before. Raise the right knee, fully bent, so that the leg is in a plane almost parallel to the floor, the heel close to the left buttock. Curl up the toes and deliver the kick with a smooth circular motion, your hands and stick positioned as in the side-of-foot kick (Figs. 8, 9).


Key Points. Same as for the side-of-foot kick. Also, do not overshoot the kick much beyond the plane of your body, or else you will lose balance. Take particular care to push the hips out. The supporting left leg must be in full extension at the ready position, unlike in the kicks described earlier. Stretch and keep your body close to the vertical, right foot firmly planted on the floor.
 

Key Points. Line up the target and use the same technique as for the right forward roll. You should take care not to land on the tip of the right shoulder. Practice the timing for thrusting your kick, because it is very important. Be ready to follow through with other attacks. You may practice this kick aiming at the extended and open hand of a partner. This will help you to develop a good sense of distance and timing for the initiation of the kick.
 

Heel Spear. This is a kick to the rear using the heel as the the striking area. From the left guard 3, drop the right hand holding the stick in front of the groin, bring the left hand in front of the chest and turn your head to look in the direction of the target (to the right) over your right shoulder. Raise the right knee to the chest and bend the right ankle upward. Lining up the right hip and shoulder with the target, thrust the heel sharply in that direction. This kick utilizes the backward swing of the thigh and the snap of the knee. Withdraw the right leg fast, and pivoting to the right on the left foot, now assume a left guard 3, facing your opponent.


Key Points. The supporting left foot must be flat on the floor, in line with the thrust. The supporting knee is slightly more bent than in the high direct kick. Here, the body bends away from the target.


Rolling Kick. This kick is very effective in self-protection and should be studied with great care. One of the best opportunities for delivering this kick is after a jumping dodge, when your attacker is pivoting to face you after you have changed position. Remember that your newly assumed position is at right angles to the direction of his initial attack. At this point, for a brief moment, he is open to the rolling kick.  From the left guard 3, take a forward step with the right foot, toes facing slightly to the left (inward) and let your body, led by a circular motion of the right arm, be carried into a right forward roll (see p. 76). Your right fist points toward the oblique left and, as you roll on your back from the right shoulder to the left hip, you kick with your right leg, initiating the kick shortly after the leg has passed the vertical. The rolling kick is delivered with the bottom of the heel in a sharp, thrusting motion and is directed at the opponent's lower abdomen. Stand up, taking a guard and, if close enough to the opponent, pursue your attack with slashes and thrusts. With practice you might even be able to deliver a double kick.


KICKING IN MOTION


Be relaxed while moving. Drain the tension from your shoulders and let your weight "settle" in the lower abdomen. Feel as if it were concentrated in one point and imagine it as your center of gravity. This will help you to remain relaxed. Your feet should glide lightly and swiftly on the floor, but do not sacrifice accuracy for speed. Increase speed only as your ability to perform improves. Look straight ahead as if through the upper chest of an imaginary opponent. Calmly concentrate on the technique you are performing. You can achieve this by a process of eliminating anything in your mind that does not pertain to the technique at hand. Concentration is the attribute of champions.


Use minimal tension at the ready position and full tension at the real (or, in training, imaginary) point of impact. Then release tension at once and withdraw the attacking leg fast, without lowering it too soon. Gradually blend one or more steps with one kick, then with different kicks. Stop briefly from time to time to check on the accuracy of your technique, or you will develop bad habits. You will know that you are on the right track when your technique combinations fit into each other smoothly, making a flowing, homogeneous whole. Try several combinations and you will discover the ones best suited to you.
Footwork is of prime importance and you can never practice it enough.


Flying Kicks. These spectacular kicks are not recommended because they are hard to control and because of the vulnerability of the person who uses them should he miss. Furthermore, they are not essential for effective self-protection. Be particularly careful to avoid using them against an opponent who has a stick and knows how to use it.


ADDITIONAL TECHNIQUES


Kneeing and elbowing are both useful in self-protection. In all cases, of course, the stick must be out of the way, either in a guard position, or held in the ready for a thrust or slash.


Direct Kneeing. Strike up and forward by bending the knee sharply. Let the target come in the way. Take the same position as for a high direct kick.
 

THE CRISS-CROSS: Example: a slash to the right temple, a slash to the left ribs, and then to the right knee.
 

THE ENTICEMENT: Drop the stick from guard 2 to guard 1. As your opponent throws a right punch to the face, being enticed to do so because you dropped your guard, you sidestep to the left, deflecting his attack with a parry 2, and counter with a left instep kick to the lower abdomen.
 

GUIDELINES FOR SELF-PROTECTION


Circular Kneeing. Prepare as for a circular kick. Then, rather than thrusting the foot toward the target, swing the knee in a wide circular motion leading with the hips.


Key Points. Bend the knee fully and tense the ankle, toes in extension. Because of the proximity of the opponent, either be prepared to parry a possible attack or, better still, break his balance before you get in a position for kneeing. Elbowing is used at close quarters, but rarely in stickfighting. It is usually preferable to use the tip of the stick rather than the elbow. However, should the opportunity present itself, a blow with the elbow is always delivered either in a plane parallel to the body or at right angles to it, the plane being formed by the wrist, forearm, elbow, and shoulder. The impact of the elbow is timed with a twist of the wrist so as to increase the penetrating power of the blow.


Self-defense is usually visualized as an aggregate of techniques developed to deal with various types of attacks. There is a general tendency to slant such techniques toward a specific type of approach. For instance, there is a judo self defense, a karate self-defense, an aikido self-defense, etc. I completely disagree with such a piecemeal approach. Any efficient, systematic study of self-protection must be based on two things: first, training aimed at the instinctive application of the five principles, so that the specific type of an attack becomes of lesser importance; and second, an integral "nonsectarian" approach, which is quite possible, even if the techniques are centered around the use of a stick. In other words, I believe in using the most appropriate technique for a given situation, be it a kick, a throw, a blow, a choke, or joint twisting, preferably with the stick but, if need be, without it.  In self-protection you should abide by the following important guidelines.


TACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS


In order to win, you must either find or create an opening. You can do so either by initiating an attack, or by inducing your opponent to attack in a direction which, with your predetermined tactics, you can turn to your advantage.


The following examples of tactical schemes, applicable to both kickboxing and stickfighting, will help you.


THE CROSS: Attack a low target and use your opponent's reaction to attack a diametrically opposed, high target. Example: a low direct kick followed by a slash to the temple.
 

THE TRIANGLE: Make an attack to the low right, the low left, and then make one high attack (or vice versa). Example: a slash directed to the opponent's left knee, a slash directed to the right knee, then a thrust to the solar plexus.
 

l. Never fight unless you absolutely have to. Avoid people who might lead you into fights.
 

2. If you must fight, fight to win. Move in to attack swiftly and decisively. Break the fight as soon as your opponent shows no further desire to attack.
 

3. In self-protection, anything beyond a parry is at the defender's option. He must at all times use his judgment to adjust the severity of his retaliation to the potential severity of a further attack. The retaliations in this book have been selected with the A.S.P. philosophy in mind. It is not recommended or implied that they should be used indiscriminately. While I would like to provide the student with very effective and complete techniques, I do not want to suggest that he should abdicate good judgment.
 

4. The best means of self-protection is one which discour-
ages a potential opponent from attacking. A calm and fearless attitude is invaluable to this effect.
 

5. As soon as you judge that your opponent's attitude becomes too aggressive and he is about to attack, attack first if you can to stop him in his tracks. Try to keep him at a distance using your stick, your feet, or both.
 

6. The most effective self-protective sequence is as follows.
(a) Make a feint or strike to stop the attacker in his tracks and create a diversion
(b) Then thwart his attack and/or bring him under control
(c) Retaliate if necessary
 

There is no need for acrobatic kicks. While the above sequence is not always repeated in connection with the techniques described, keep in mind that it is always applicable. Rather than constant repetition for each technique, it is easier to remember that, depending on the distance, the most useful kicks are
Low direct kick to the shinbone Side-of-foot kick to the knee
Instep kick or a high direct kick to the inside of the thighs or the groin, depending on the severity of the attack
Condition yourself for a conflict by visualizing the situation using these techniques, in addition to using them in training (with all necessary caution). The other kicks described in this volume are very useful in training and can most certainly be used in self-protection. For stickfighting, however, they are not essential.
As earlier stated, kicks, slashes, and thrusts blend well, and it is advantageous to combine them as you find necessary. You must remember that, while the stick techniques are described in detail, all possible combinations with kicks are not given for the sake of brevity. In short, because a kick is not described with a given stickfighting technique, it does not mean that it cannot be used.
 

7. Beginners usually think that the retaliation part of a technique is the most important. Actually, dodging or foiling an attack by appropriate body positioning and shifting in accordance with the five principles comes first. Unless you under
stand this, you will not understand A.S.P. Speed is most important in this respect, and this is also why conditioned reflexes are given so much emphasis in this system.
 

8. The large, unprotected, and rather soft abdominal muscles and those of the area of the floating ribs are very vulnerable to blows, particularly during inhalation, when these muscles are relatively relaxed and the lungs are filling with air. Conversely, exhaling sharply when receiving a blow gives you some protection because it tenses these muscles and braces them against the impact. It is also helpful when delivering a blow, because it firms up the large muscles of the trunk and abdomen and helps in the effective transmission of the power of the trunk to the opponent, either through one's own body or the stick.
 

9. There are several vulnerable parts in the human body. In order to learn how to attack them, one has to develop great accuracy and know-how in the mode of attack. For the average person, such effort is futile and unnecessary for self-protection. Therefore, we will confine ourselves to large, easily accessible, vulnerable areas. I said earlier that retaliation is secondary to body shifting and positioning. In keeping with this emphasis, 1 will describe means to retaliate only as related to specific techniques.
 

10. Variations of techniques have been kept to a minimum in order to avoid confusion. You will have no difficulty in devising your own with the elements learned.
 

11. Confidence and skill go hand in hand. Practice is essential for developing any skill; however, it should be consistent with the proper understanding and application of the principles involved. Then it results in the instinctively correct application of appropriate techniques.
Important Note: All techniques described must be considered potentially dangerous and must be practiced with caution.
Some readers may find difficulty in understanding how the severity of the defense can be correctly proportioned to the potential severity of an attack, particularly regarding defensive blows delivered with a stick. Keep the following in mind.
 

1. The impact of the retaliation can be controlled all the way, from a feint to a focused blow. In order to avoid being repetitious, the reader is not reminded of this each time a technique is described.
 

2. Retaliation is not always mandatory. All or part of a technique, or none at all, may be used; and any technique can be employed at different levels of severity. You have, therefore, a great latitude of choice. Possible complete techniques are described in this book, and the reader should apply them using good judgment and discretion.
Some defensive techniques may appear to be repetitive. This is because of the goal of developing conditioned reflexes with minimal effort. In this system, a few versatile elements of motion are used. Complexity is never tantamount to efficacy and almost always results in poor yields.

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