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RobinTKD

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I'm 24 and have just started Tae-Kwon-Do, i'm really enjoying it and it seems a great way to maintain fitness (i was getting bored of just running everyday), and teaching self discipline. But i have a few concerns, firstly is the height at which i can lift my leg, i can't do the splits and my sidekick seems pretty lacklustre in comparison to the tutor and his assistant, will i stretch these muscles while training? and what can i do at home to help this along? secondly, what seems to be the difference in teaching styles from those of the WTF and those of the ITF? I'm learning from an ITF master.
 

KenpoVzla

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No need to concern for your current abilities as everybody had to start somewhere. Your instructor and their assistant have been training for years and that's why they can kick like that.

"i can't do the splits"....neither can I and I can still kick far above my head. Honestly, kicking high is for tournaments and katas (forms), don't get too hanged up on it, even if you're doing TKD, from a self defense point of view, it is impractical most of the time.

With that said, if you are serious about kicking high, I would suggest:

1. FOCUS on every stretch...it's very easy to do half stretches or even start talking to other students, but I don't find it as effective as when you focus on really reaching your maximum and a little more.

2. Give it some time, kicking high and full splits do not come over night, and you are likely to injure yourself if that's what you aim for.

3. Remember that age is just a number. As a culture we've see aging as such a drawback that it limits us everywhere. I would say, turn it around..........so you're 24......that means you've had Twenty Four years of experience to get here, you're much mature, and much knowledgeable on learning techniques and how to discipline yourself to achieve your kicking goal. Use all that to your advantage.

4. Most importantly of all.... ENJOY your training, you'll see progress come along rather quickly actually than if you start to kicking and looking at your calendar every time.

I've only done ITF tkd and teaching style focuses a lot more on the Martial Art aspect rather than the sport aspect. For WTF, it depends on the school, but some focus a lot on the sport aspect since that's what get featured on the Olympics.
 

chrispillertkd

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I'm 24 and have just started Tae-Kwon-Do, i'm really enjoying it and it seems a great way to maintain fitness (i was getting bored of just running everyday), and teaching self discipline. But i have a few concerns, firstly is the height at which i can lift my leg, i can't do the splits and my sidekick seems pretty lacklustre in comparison to the tutor and his assistant, will i stretch these muscles while training? and what can i do at home to help this along?

If you just started Taekwon-Do I wouldn't worry about your side kick being "lack luster" compared to your instructor's (especially if he really is an ITF Master as that would mean he's at least a 7th degree black belt and have about 30+ years of practice under his belt). You have plenty of time to work on that and hosts of other techniques.

That being said, you'll definitely stretch out the muscles needed to performside kicks in training, both by repetition of the technique itself and by doing stretches during the warm-up and cool-down portions of class. Some easy stretches to do at home to help make progress in this area are rising kicks (both front and side rising kicks will help loosen the leg muscles allowing you to kick higher with less effort), leg raises (which will help strengthen your leg muscles), side stretches, straddle stretching (spreading your feet apart to the sides), butterfly stretches while seated on the ground, forward bends (reaching to the floor with the palms leaving your legs straight - but not locking your knees), etc.

secondly, what seems to be the difference in teaching styles from those of the WTF and those of the ITF? I'm learning from an ITF master.

Teaching styles will depend on the individual and their personality. Teaching focus will generaly be geared more towards the martial arts and self-defense side of things in an ITF school. There certainly are ITF tournaments out there but in general the focus of ITF schools is on the martial art Gen. Choi developed.

Pax,

Chris
 
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ATC

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Just keep kicking. Kicking develops the muscles needed to kick high or low. Many think that they need to do full splits to kick well or high. No, you need muscle strength plus dynamic flexibility to kick high. You develop that by kicking and kicking a lot. Most people don't kick enough to get to where they need to get. Just keep kicking and you will see.
 

ralphmcpherson

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I didnt start until I was in my 30's, so you're still young. You will be surprised how regular kicking and stretching will improve the height of your kicks but dont be too concerned about kicking high, be more concerned with kicking with good technique. I can remember being very overawed when I first started training and thinking Id never be able to do what I saw the higher belts doing, but I just kept training and it all started to come together. Just keep enjoying what you are doing and everything else will fall into place.
 

igillman

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Your high kicking will improve as you keep training. It may take a long time and you may not notice the difference so, right now, make a mental note of how high you can kick and keep that mental note in your head. That is your baseline. Sometimes the improvement is so slow that without the baseline you would never notice it.

The ITF and WTF are different enough to notice but not so different that you cannot switch from one to the other. Unless you are looking at the Olympics I wouldn't worry about the differences too much.

The best thing you can do is to have fun and learn lots. Practice the techniques and do as best as you can.
 

andyjeffries

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I'm 24 and have just started Tae-Kwon-Do, i'm really enjoying it and it seems a great way to maintain fitness (i was getting bored of just running everyday), and teaching self discipline. But i have a few concerns, firstly is the height at which i can lift my leg, i can't do the splits and my sidekick seems pretty lacklustre in comparison to the tutor and his assistant, will i stretch these muscles while training? and what can i do at home to help this along?

I completely agree with the others here - don't worry, you're not supposed to be able to do the splits and vertical perfect side kicks when first starting. You're going to learn to do a lot of techniques and perfecting them is more important than flexibility! You're at the right place at the right time, don't worry too much about not being as good as someone with 20-30 years experience, no one expects you to be.

That said - if you want to improve your flexibility, I'd highly recommend this book - http://www.amazon.com/Stretching-Scientifically-Flexibility-Training-Revision/dp/0940149451

I got that book when I was about 15 and spent 3 weeks stretching intensively using Dr Kurz's methods and went from about 18 inches above the splits to a full front split both sides. You probably aren't close to 18 inches above the splits and you are older than I was, but his methods are excellent for improving (and maintaining) flexibility.
 

terryl965

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Just remember the cart should never be a head of the horse take you time and enjoy.
 

risingfire

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Just keep kicking. Kicking develops the muscles needed to kick high or low. Many think that they need to do full splits to kick well or high. No, you need muscle strength plus dynamic flexibility to kick high. You develop that by kicking and kicking a lot. Most people don't kick enough to get to where they need to get. Just keep kicking and you will see.

Great advice,
Curious though, What kicks and how many of each to you reconmend daily? I am thinking about starting a program. My kicks on my right side are...well...I think...awesome:ultracool But my left side is...not so great. Advice? Not trying to hijack, I am not new, but newly back after almost a decade.

Also,
Welcome to the newcomer!!!!;) You will love it!! Just stick with it!
 

terryl965

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Well start out with back leg roundhouses and fast kick or front leg and maybe three sets with reps of twenty. Always increase as you will be developing better kicks on a weekly bases.
 

StudentCarl

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In my experience, most people just starting underestimate how much your body adapts as you train. The first period is just getting your body and mind familiar with moving in new ways. This can take months depending on your background and frequency of training. Just keep practicing. Looking at the bigger picture, I think all of the color belt ranks are about becoming more technically precise with moving your body and more fluent with putting techniques together.
 
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risingfire

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In my experience, most people just starting underestimate how much your body adapts as you train. The first period is just getting your body and mind familiar with moving in new ways. This can take months depending on your background and frequency of training. Looking at the bigger picture, I think all of the color belt ranks are about becoming more technically precise with moving your body and more fluent with putting techniques together.

Not to mention the, "karate body," you get as my girlfriend puts it. :supcool:
Sabumnim always tell the new folks, "You will start see stuff moving around." I saw the extra skin left over from weight loss fill up with muscle;)
 
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RobinTKD

RobinTKD

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Thanks for the advice guys, will definitely start some more intensive stretching. I didn't expect to be amazing straight away, it's just that (and i don't wanna boast here) i was told that i had a really good axe kick and turning kick, yet my side kick is really clumsy, and stretching my leg that way is a lot tougher than kicking forward, or with a moving arc in a turn kick.

How about balancing exercises? I do side leg raises and hold it, and slow kicks, is there anything else?
 

SahBumNimRush

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Thanks for the advice guys, will definitely start some more intensive stretching. I didn't expect to be amazing straight away, it's just that (and i don't wanna boast here) i was told that i had a really good axe kick and turning kick, yet my side kick is really clumsy, and stretching my leg that way is a lot tougher than kicking forward, or with a moving arc in a turn kick.

How about balancing exercises? I do side leg raises and hold it, and slow kicks, is there anything else?

The majority of you balance is going to come from core strength, work on some good core exercises, combine that with good ankle stabilizing exercises and you'll be well on your way ;)
 

ATC

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Well start out with back leg roundhouses and fast kick or front leg and maybe three sets with reps of twenty. Always increase as you will be developing better kicks on a weekly bases.
What Master Terry mentioned is good. I would add in stretch or axe kicks. There are 3 types, and they are not the ones you would use in competition or combat. They are more of a leg swing rather than a kick.
  1. Using the rear leg swing the leg straight up and down (swing the leg from back to top at about 75-80% height, then work up to 90-95% height. Keep the leg straight with no bend at the knee at all.
  2. Big inside to outside crescent type leg swings. Again keep the leg straight and exaggerate the motion from inside to outside.
  3. Big outside to inside crescent type leg swings. Keep with the same leg straight and an exaggerated outside to inside swing motion. Follow the same 75-80, 90-95% height ratio for all swing kicks.
Try to do 3 sets of 12-15 swings for each leg and each kick.
I would do the leg swings first then start with my basic kicks as Master Terry mentioned. Front kick, Round kick, and side kick. You can do 3 sets of 10-20 kicks on each side. Remember to bend (chamber) the knee when doing the basic kicks as these are kicks not swings.

After a few weeks of the leg swings with the swing starting from the rear leg, change things up and start using the front leg to start the swings without bringing the leg back or behind you at all. This will no longer be a swing but a drill that will develop the kicking muscles. You will find that doing this will enable you to kick higher with power and without swinging your leg. You will start to kick with power without the big windup and swing motion. You will become faster and not telegraph your intent to kick. This is the part that most people never develop.

After that I am sure you will be able to develop your own drills to keep your kicks advancing.
 

d1jinx

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Its All Good.

If you could do everything right away, then there would be no need to practice.

It takes time. Enjoy the Journey.
 

KenpoVzla

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I got that book when I was about 15 and spent 3 weeks stretching intensively using Dr Kurz's methods and went from about 18 inches above the splits to a full front split both sides. You probably aren't close to 18 inches above the splits and you are older than I was, but his methods are excellent for improving (and maintaining) flexibility.

Really? I've always wanted to read his material, but have been a little skeptical about it.

I've been very close to a full split for years now, but can't quite seem to get there. This book might just be the answer?
 

andyjeffries

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Really? I've always wanted to read his material, but have been a little skeptical about it.

I've been very close to a full split for years now, but can't quite seem to get there. This book might just be the answer?

It might be! I bought the book for my Grandmaster for his birthday last year. He's 59. I got the following comment back from him:

"Started seriously on the stretching on Sunday 27th after reading the important bits many times. Did not hit the maximum stretch but still manage to get within 3" from the floor for the front split, both sides, and 9" for the side split by yesterday, i.e. after 3 days work. I am truly shocked!!! Having a rest day today. Will resume tomorrow."

Then

"Got down a little further today after yesterday's rest. It is really motivating and exciting. Can't thank you enough again."

And finally

"My dynamic stretching is a lot easier and stronger now, even from a cold start."

This is from someone who's been stretching for over 40 years and has had really great results from the book. I get no commission from the book (and the Amazon link was a plain link from Google not an affiliate link from me) and have no relationship with the author but I've been very impressed with it and now my Grandmaster has too.
 
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RobinTKD

RobinTKD

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So, i've been doing some of the stretches that you guys have given me and WOW! Had my lesson tonight and my right footed kicks have improved noticeably, especially crescent and reverse turns. Still having trouble with the left with these two kicks though, i'm finding it hard to keep my leg straight and on course. Hopefully with these stretches though i'll build up some more strength and improve balance. Thanks again guys!
 
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