3.0 KICKING AND
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Example: a slash to the right temple, a slash to the left ribs, and then to the
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.
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
(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
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
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
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
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.