Why do people say to never kick air?

reeskm

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The way people train has changed significantly over the last 150 years, in all styles. In the old days, full or medium contact training was the norm and expected. In addition, experiences in daily life situations, violent crimes, challenge matches, street fighting, bodyguard and security employment, conflict and wartime actually meant martial artists had real "fight tested" skills and training, even if it didn't happen in their own school.

Yes, kicking and punching the air has been practised in drills "up and down the floor" for nearly as long, but the idea of "light" sparring, when doing two person drills or in sport karate matches and the like has progressively become more and more like zero contact in the late 90's to the 2000s. The emphasis in TaeKwonDo and Karate to score points with a single kick or punch and then "break" up the fight has also contributed to this problem. The result is that more realistic, full force contact has dropped for a huge percentage of martial arts students that train in today's world. Each school will train differently, and there are some that preserve a hard style of training, but this has mostly dissapeared for all but the "hardcore". I've learnt the hard way that some serious form of full contact training is essential for conditioning the body and becoming effective in any martial art. As dirty dog says, there is a risk of hyperextension when kicking and punching the air, but there are many more problems and issues that arise without full contact and feedback that you get with realistic, full power contact.

My base art is Tang Soo Do (Korean Karate) and over the years contact has dropped to near zero levels. When I was teaching regularly, I would purposefully cut down on drill time compared to what we used to do, and spend less than 1/4 class time on it. It was important to do, but not as important as getting out our Century Bobs, Wavemaster bags, focus mitts and pads and training full contact with an opponent.

I would like to ask the OP to clarify: when you say that you have been told to not kick air - who or what told you this? can you give more background on why you are asking this question and where it came from?
 
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Hanshi

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Wow! These comments are all over the map. In my teaching we did a LOT of air kicking/punching; and short of running it's one of the most aerobic things one can do. Kicking air is excellent for teaching/learning fine muscle control and perfecting technique. The most powerful kicker I've ever personally known claimed he gained much of that power from kicking air, and he's broken heavy bags. I've kicked air, people, bags and hand held pads and always recommended this sort of variety for kicking and punching. When I started boxing I realized just how much my karate training helped with power, speed and making contact.

No one has yet mentioned this but kicking only a bag can, and has, caused students to develop bad habits. One of my black belts liked to practice his flying kicks on the bag. That's fine but not when one gets to "pushing" rather than sharply kicking. If anyone can learn and use the principle of "kicking/punching" THROUGH a target then the habit of "pulling punches" simply will not develop. Those who do not use a variety of training methods are shortchanging themselves, and this includes techniques practiced in the air.
 

Yokozuna514

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Air kicking is fine for beginners who have never tried kicking in MA before. They can understand the sequence of events and see how it feels to use a technique without the distraction of anything other than the feedback from their own body. The issue I see is transferring that information to a purposeful technique. The balance point is different when kicking in the air than it is when kicking a bag or an opponent. It is important to understand the difference and practice kicking that will lead to a meaningful technique in the end.

Simply kicking a bag is also not the be all and end all. Not all kicks are created equal. Some kicks are meant to keep your attacker at bay. Some kicks are meant fold your opponent. Some kicks are meant only to distract your opponent while on the path to the real target. They can all LOOK the same (if you practice them enough) but having a bag to react can give a lot better feedback than kicking in the air.
 

Alan0354

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I am doing kickboxing, I learn Tae Kwon Do before. It is absolutely necessary to do punching and kicking air TOGETHER with kicking bag. You gain speed and footwork doing air punches and kicks. You gain power doing bag work. If you only working with heavy bags alone, you get slower and slower. I know, That's what I did for the first 3 years. I never get the snap( the sound of sleeves and pants snapping the air). It's only when you doing air punches and kicks before you gain the speed. It's apple and orange and you need to eat both!!!

You don't have to hipper extend when you kick, warm up by not kicking too fast and hard. Don't do like Tae Kwon Do that you kick, and then extend and stay at the extend position for a second to show off. And don't do air kick extensively. work on both bag and air. I am 68, I am still doing it. Find some knee exercise to strengthen your knees at the same time.
 

Alan0354

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I forgot to mention and it's too late to edit.

What make you think you won't get injured hitting a heavy bag? It's just different!!! Even I do Tae Kwon Do, I put a lot of effort in the simple front kick. I've been kicking the heavy bag for years with front kick, I had foot problem and took X-ray on my foot. Doctor told me I have arthritis on both my foot particular the ball of the foot where I use to kick the heavy bag in front kick. I have capo tunnel on my wrist. Punching the heavy bag for years doesn't help.

I actually adding more air punches and kicks since and surprisingly, I started getting the whipping sound and I can tell my punch and kicks got faster.

No matter which way, you are going to get injure, that's why people put a lot of time in weight training to help recover from injuries. Half of my workout is weight training. Martial arts, weights and stretching are all as important if you want to last. Too much on one, you will get injured sooner or later.

JMHO
 

Stablades86

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When practicing kicking they say never to kick air.

Why do you have to kick some thing as you cannot kick air and visualize some thing is there?
I started martial arts (capoeira, taekwondo) around 11-12 years old. My training is mostly done outside during, snow, rain, sunny, cloudy doesn't matter. I rarely hit the back, my focus is on speed, stamina, and of course technique. I've never injured myself kicking or punching air. I have yet to find a partner to spar with being that I live in Cleveland, martial arts seems like a very lost art in this area.
 

reeskm

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I forgot to mention and it's too late to edit.

What make you think you won't get injured hitting a heavy bag? It's just different!!! Even I do Tae Kwon Do, I put a lot of effort in the simple front kick. I've been kicking the heavy bag for years with front kick, I had foot problem and took X-ray on my foot. Doctor told me I have arthritis on both my foot particular the ball of the foot where I use to kick the heavy bag in front kick. I have capo tunnel on my wrist. Punching the heavy bag for years doesn't help.

I actually adding more air punches and kicks since and surprisingly, I started getting the whipping sound and I can tell my punch and kicks got faster.

No matter which way, you are going to get injure, that's why people put a lot of time in weight training to help recover from injuries. Half of my workout is weight training. Martial arts, weights and stretching are all as important if you want to last. Too much on one, you will get injured sooner or later.

JMHO

This is all true. The key is a wide range of experience. Full contact, "shadow boxing" and correcting technique "in the air".

Any good kicker knows Superfoot Wallace made his fortune by selling videos promoting using a chair for balance and doing kicks in the air in order to gain flexibility, conditioning, muscle development and accuracy. And so much more...

Flying side kicks on a heavy bag - probably a great idea. When you hit the bag, your body stops moving forward in the air and then you must recover by dropping down and landing on the floor. I've seen a student try and do flying kicks, with zero resistance, and landing incorrectly on the floor and tearing their ACL. All because they did it in the air, incorrectly without listening to their instructor in the dojang. Even the air will hurt you! Blame what you want here. Maybe the student :p

Alan, It's interesting you mention front kicks. Front kicks were legendary in the Jidokwan, probably because they had a strong connection to Renbukai/Renbukan/Kanbukan. That's mostly all they use in modern renbukai, because they do full contact fights at full power wearing armour. They don't do snap kicks... only thrust kicks and one of the only ways to train for that is to do it on a heavy bag or on a person! My understanding is this was the fave technique of the jidokwan guys in the 50s and 60s. They owned the tournament scene with their distance stealing techniques and very powerful front kicks!

Agree about injury - I've made the mistake of mis-judging a heavy bag because it looked lighter than I thought it would be, and punching incorrectly. I expected to drive it back, but injured my wrist instead!
 

reeskm

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By the way, while we are on the subject of kicks, if you want one of the best movies/tutorials ever filmed on kicking, go pick up the Silver Fox's video bible. I can attest - I would never mess with Hwang Jang Lee! He said to me "kicking is just like dancing". Food for thought...

The Art of High Impact Kicking.
 
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Urban Trekker

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Muscle memory. You know how to get you foot back to the ground and back into your stance after you kick air. Do you know how to do it after you kick an object? There's only one way to learn.
 

Alan0354

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This is all true. The key is a wide range of experience. Full contact, "shadow boxing" and correcting technique "in the air".

Any good kicker knows Superfoot Wallace made his fortune by selling videos promoting using a chair for balance and doing kicks in the air in order to gain flexibility, conditioning, muscle development and accuracy. And so much more...

Flying side kicks on a heavy bag - probably a great idea. When you hit the bag, your body stops moving forward in the air and then you must recover by dropping down and landing on the floor. I've seen a student try and do flying kicks, with zero resistance, and landing incorrectly on the floor and tearing their ACL. All because they did it in the air, incorrectly without listening to their instructor in the dojang. Even the air will hurt you! Blame what you want here. Maybe the student :p

Alan, It's interesting you mention front kicks. Front kicks were legendary in the Jidokwan, probably because they had a strong connection to Renbukai/Renbukan/Kanbukan. That's mostly all they use in modern renbukai, because they do full contact fights at full power wearing armour. They don't do snap kicks... only thrust kicks and one of the only ways to train for that is to do it on a heavy bag or on a person! My understanding is this was the fave technique of the jidokwan guys in the 50s and 60s. They owned the tournament scene with their distance stealing techniques and very powerful front kicks!

Agree about injury - I've made the mistake of mis-judging a heavy bag because it looked lighter than I thought it would be, and punching incorrectly. I expected to drive it back, but injured my wrist instead!
Yup, it's a good balance of all, one cannot just do one and ignore the other. The reason I put much more effort in front kick is because I started late after I turn 30 at the time. I am not that flexible, more importantly, I can only kick higher(hardly to head on a good day) AFTER I stretch only, in self defense, you don't tell the opponent to "wait, let me stretch first!!". So I knew my limit and practice what I can do in the split of the moment.....front kick. Also people think front kick is easy, I actually think a good front kick is hard. It's much harder to generate power with front kick because you don't pivot like you do with round house and side kicks. It's harder to put the hip into the front kick also. I see a lot of people do it wrong by just lifting the leg and extend the kick like pushing instead of really kicking. You don't drop people with a push kick.

I had to quit the class after 3 years because of back injury from side and round kicks, I never stop, I have two heavy bags at home so I can still practice, just not at the intensity of the class and I am not pressured to do side and round kicks. So I mainly practice front kick, punches and elbow.

Practice and injury go hand in hand, if you never injure, you don't practice hard enough. I spend a lot of time doing weights, that still the best way for recovery if done right. I am too old now, I am 68, so I have no illusion of being a good fighter. But I still spend like 6 hours a week exercising between weights, kick boxing and stick fighting. I might be old, but I refuse to act old!!!
 

Buka

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Students need to be taught how to use heavy bags. (Dumb statement, they need to be taught everything) I used to start with a story of a young hoodlum who came into one of our gyms (a long time ago) and ran up to a very old canvas bag….and did a running kick to the underside of the bag. You could almost hear the bones in his foot shattering like glass. He wore a cast for a long while.

First thing we taught was to feel every bag you’re going to use for the first time. Look at the chains, their length, how they’re attached. Every time we broke a bag, and we broke many, if it was beyond repair, we’d take all the new guys, take the bag apart and show them how it was constructed.

We had a lot of bags in my last dojo, mostly leather, mostly TufWear bags, some vinyl, a few canvas. You could hang about fifteen of them at any one time. The sound of fifteen people punching bags at the same time is like music. The sound of them kicking was more like Heavy Metal from the clanging of the chains.

IMO, you should teach them to wrap their hands, also teach them how to punch bags barehanded, with gloves as well. All kinds of gloves, for there are subtle differences. Also kicking barefoot, with shoes, sneakers, boots etc.

There are also subtle differences on how you kick air, how you kick bags, how you kick shields and how you kick people. If you don’t think so, keep training, you’ll come around.

Helpfull hint - if you're ever in position to run a place with a lot of bags, find the kind you like and become s distributor, you'll say a ton in the long run.
 

Yokozuna514

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Yup, it's a good balance of all, one cannot just do one and ignore the other. The reason I put much more effort in front kick is because I started late after I turn 30 at the time. I am not that flexible, more importantly, I can only kick higher(hardly to head on a good day) AFTER I stretch only, in self defense, you don't tell the opponent to "wait, let me stretch first!!". So I knew my limit and practice what I can do in the split of the moment.....front kick. Also people think front kick is easy, I actually think a good front kick is hard. It's much harder to generate power with front kick because you don't pivot like you do with round house and side kicks. It's harder to put the hip into the front kick also. I see a lot of people do it wrong by just lifting the leg and extend the kick like pushing instead of really kicking. You don't drop people with a push kick.

I had to quit the class after 3 years because of back injury from side and round kicks, I never stop, I have two heavy bags at home so I can still practice, just not at the intensity of the class and I am not pressured to do side and round kicks. So I mainly practice front kick, punches and elbow.

Practice and injury go hand in hand, if you never injure, you don't practice hard enough. I spend a lot of time doing weights, that still the best way for recovery if done right. I am too old now, I am 68, so I have no illusion of being a good fighter. But I still spend like 6 hours a week exercising between weights, kick boxing and stick fighting. I might be old, but I refuse to act old!!!
First of all, good on you for being this active at 68 years of age. I hope when I am 68 I will still be training 6 hours a week.

Respectfully, practice and injury should not go hand in hand. We should train hard but we should also train smart. You cannot train when you are injured (as in train the injured limb). You can train through discomfort and mild pain but I would not recommend training through injuries. The rest of your body will need to compensate for the weakness and it is questionable how much you will progress while ensuring your injury doesn't worsen or take longer to heal.

This doesn't mean you have to stop training but it does mean that you should modify your training to allow your injury to heal properly. In other words, if you have a fracture in a thigh bone, you may want to find exercises you can do that will not aggravate the leg. Train and push your limits but I like to remember that training to the point of injury is rather.........pointless.
 

Alan0354

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First of all, good on you for being this active at 68 years of age. I hope when I am 68 I will still be training 6 hours a week.

Respectfully, practice and injury should not go hand in hand. We should train hard but we should also train smart. You cannot train when you are injured (as in train the injured limb). You can train through discomfort and mild pain but I would not recommend training through injuries. The rest of your body will need to compensate for the weakness and it is questionable how much you will progress while ensuring your injury doesn't worsen or take longer to heal.

This doesn't mean you have to stop training but it does mean that you should modify your training to allow your injury to heal properly. In other words, if you have a fracture in a thigh bone, you may want to find exercises you can do that will not aggravate the leg. Train and push your limits but I like to remember that training to the point of injury is rather.........pointless.
This can be a whole thread on it's own, it's too broad to be a one sentence type. Yes, never train through injury, work around until recovered. If you break a bone, you have to really back off until it healed. I am talking more about straining a joint, back pain type. doing some weight training can help, but that's just me. And go light until it gets better. But then I start training harder and the cycle repeats!!!

Also, when people gets old, they have aches and paint that younger people never experienced. Hell, I have been active all this time, two years ago, one day when I walked down the stairs, my knee buckled!!! All of a sudden I had foot pain( from all the front kicks). Went to see doctors.....I have arthritis on the ball and toe of my feet where I kick the bag!!! I had to find exercise to eliminate the pain. I am doing better. This kind of thing seems to be none stop as I get old!!!
 

Alan0354

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Hi Buka

Funny you mentioned punching bags with and without gloves. They are very different thing. This is a thread about kicking, so I never get into punching. I actually spend more time punching than kicking. I split half punching air to get the snap and half on bags for power. Of that, I do half with gloves and half bare knuckle on bags. I find doing bare knuckle train for hard hitting but gets slower. Wearing gloves is like a transition from air punch with snaps and the heavy slower bare knuckle on bags. That's just me, wearing gloves seems to be like a common ground between the two extremes. I even do punching, elbowing and kicking with shin on a 6 X 6 wood pole 10 times each once a week ( of cause not that hard) to keep the bones strong.

I hang two bags, one 60lbs canvas and one 100lbs leather that is long and reach low for practice low kicks to the knee. I do wear out bags and they crack and getting holes. I find duck tapes work. I was too lazy to change bags, so I duck taped around hoping it will last like two months. It's been over half a year and still holding. I wrapped around many times and do vertical taping also, but it's good so far!!!

It's not the money, it's the trouble of hanging the bag particular the 100lbs. My wife cannot help me and I have to do it by myself. So I am going to keep taping until I cannot do it anymore. Those 100lbs leather bags are expensive also.
 

Buka

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Hi Buka

Funny you mentioned punching bags with and without gloves. They are very different thing. This is a thread about kicking, so I never get into punching. I actually spend more time punching than kicking. I split half punching air to get the snap and half on bags for power. Of that, I do half with gloves and half bare knuckle on bags. I find doing bare knuckle train for hard hitting but gets slower. Wearing gloves is like a transition from air punch with snaps and the heavy slower bare knuckle on bags. That's just me, wearing gloves seems to be like a common ground between the two extremes. I even do punching, elbowing and kicking with shin on a 6 X 6 wood pole 10 times each once a week ( of cause not that hard) to keep the bones strong.

I hang two bags, one 60lbs canvas and one 100lbs leather that is long and reach low for practice low kicks to the knee. I do wear out bags and they crack and getting holes. I find duck tapes work. I was too lazy to change bags, so I duck taped around hoping it will last like two months. It's been over half a year and still holding. I wrapped around many times and do vertical taping also, but it's good so far!!!

It's not the money, it's the trouble of hanging the bag particular the 100lbs. My wife cannot help me and I have to do it by myself. So I am going to keep taping until I cannot do it anymore. Those 100lbs leather bags are expensive also.
I agree wholeheartedly, Alan.

We used to have this terrific type of carpet tape that came in red and black. It was twice as tough as the duct tape stuff, forget what it's called. When we hung vinyl bags we reinforced them with that tape before they ever went up. Made them last a lot longer.

One thing I won't do is punch a canvass bag bare knuckle. I scrape my knuckles on those suckers when I do certain punches that are meant to somewhat slide across the ribs and be followed with an elbow strike.

Hundred pound bags are a royal pain in the ash to hang. Or to carry them somewhere if you don't have them up all the time. Of course, that's what students are for. :)
 

dvcochran

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I agree wholeheartedly, Alan.

We used to have this terrific type of carpet tape that came in red and black. It was twice as tough as the duct tape stuff, forget what it's called. When we hung vinyl bags we reinforced them with that tape before they ever went up. Made them last a lot longer.

One thing I won't do is punch a canvass bag bare knuckle. I scrape my knuckles on those suckers when I do certain punches that are meant to somewhat slide across the ribs and be followed with an elbow strike.

Hundred pound bags are a royal pain in the ash to hang. Or to carry them somewhere if you don't have them up all the time. Of course, that's what students are for. :)
Gorilla tape is great. Much thicker than duct tape and made differently. It has a very tacky surface and will tear skin much like a canvas bag but man is it great for reinforcement.
 

reeskm

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It seems I was not supposed to post links to Amazon.com etc and did not mean to commercially plug that DVD/Video as above. Forgive me on that one - it's just a suggestion of something I found useful, and should have been more careful.

All fantastic bits of info. Have to say I would love more experience with heavy bags. We had Century WaveMasters and Bobs, which were great. But I always hated how the base got in the way. It limited somewhat how you used the things. The Bob's were great for having a lifelike torso to instruct with tho, and had an interesting feel and shape to them.
 

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I kick air all the time. Great for the abs.
 

Graywalker

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I think kicking air with full power, can be risky. But, kicking air seems to be inherent during floor practice, in a lot of systems.
 
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