I’m having currently having all kinds of difficulties. I’m overwhelmed, stressed, and tired. I took a week off training, but I can’t seem to figure out where to start. I have no flexibility what so ever. I want to be able to kick high with speed and power, but I don’t even have the hip strength to hold up my leg. My back is always slouched and it’s hard for me to keep it straight during a stretch. I can’t bend over very far, and I have super tight hamstrings/calves. My martial arts classes seem to put too much emphasis on learning forms. All of these negatives have stressed me out; so I stopped all of my martial arts training.
I’m not a personal trainer but here is what has been found to work: daily, numerous repetitions of whatever you are trying to master using a perfect technique each time.
- For flexibility, stretch every day separate from class. From you instructor, yoga books and websites, or flexibility books and websites, find some core stretches. Warm-up first and then do the stretches. It takes some time, but things will begin to loosen. Overall, I was more flexible than my instructor, but he could perform higher, quicker, and more precise kicks than I could. Why? Because he performed, the kicking motions perfectly all day in slow motion while teaching.
- For leg and hip strength, use squats and pylometic jumping. To be stronger and better at anything, you must do it a lot. To be a stronger kicker, do many perfect kicks against a bag every day. Don’t worry about the height of the kick. Concentrate on perfection. Only kick as high as you can while performing a perfect kick. Height will come naturally has a product of the repetition.
- Control comes from the body not from the arm or leg. To stop a punch at a precise point, you do not try to stop the arm’s movement or “pull” the punch; you stop the shoulder’s movement. The punch is always at full power and full extension. The shoulder then controls the point at which the arm reaches full extension. Likewise, the hip controls the leg. Practice striking target three ways: stopping just short of the target, just tapping the target, and full penetration of the target. These three methods will cover every circumstance where a punch of kick is needed; ranging from friendly sparring to lethal self-defense.
- Forms train your muscles to perform the motions of a perfect technique. The repetition creates muscle memory so you perform the techniques instinctively. When you first learned to drive, you had to think about what to do to stop the car and you usually over braked. Now your body instantly and instinctively applies the amount of brake required according to the situation. Tiger Woods plays golf daily (when not with mistresses), but during a game there is little driving. Therefore, he spends hours a day just driving, until the motion becomes instinctive. Forms are more a mental exercise than a physical one. They teach you to be able to perform precisely while under stress.
- I don’t like weightlifting, it is boring and seems like work. I like various versions of sit-ups, pushups, bar dips, pull-ups and chin-ups, etc. where I am working against my own body weight. Experiment and find what you like to do and what strength exercises work for you, and then do them regularly. While strength is related to muscle size, size is not the controlling factor. As you have probably experienced, many relatively small people have tremendous power that does not come from size, but from speed and technique.
- Eat healthy foods in reasonable amounts and perform moderate exercise daily, and body fat will not be a problem. Your body will stabilize at whatever is its norm and you will be able to maintain that level for life.
- You have to have a wide variety of techniques and be able to perform them properly, but the only way to get better at sparing is to spar with as many different opponents as possible as often as possible. It’s called experience.
Hope these tips will be useful to you. Don’t give up. Perseverance is one of the tenets of Taekwondo for a reason.