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Category Archives: Martial Arts Training

Teep Push Front Kick Stronger Kick Using Supporting Leg Training

May people have asked how to develop the power in a push front kick. Push kick is usually a defensive weapon. However properly adjusted it can be to attack and/or set up other techniques. If used without acceleration, and especially to stop the incoming attack, it relies on “grounding”. This means the supporting leg must be in good position to push off the ground and into the target. Unfortunately this is a weak link in the chain. I use a very simple training technique to develop power, stability and grounding in the push front kick. Later this transfers to power of the kick.

An inflatable ball is placed on a chair or appropriate object to be at abdominal height. The kicking leg pushes into the ball. Most people will notice at first that they can’t push the ball in. With a little bit of adjusting, the position is found. Even the strongest fighters, had supporting leg SORE the next day. Even after few sets of doing this exercise. However the kick became more effortless and stronger.

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Flying Side Kick

Flying Side Kick is a fancy looking kick, which in most peoples’ minds is reserved for the movies, demonstration and breaking. However from a power point of view, it combines two monsters:
• One is a the strongest muscles in the body, the compound leg extensors. Same muscles that helps one squat and dead lift heavy weights.
• That not being enough Flying Side Kick also pack the full weight of the body, being accelerated into the target.


From a practicality point of view it’s not as easy to land as a Jab or Back Fist. And yet the kick had been landed in the ring and on the street. If the two steps are removed the Flying Side Kick becomes a rear leg side kick with a hop. Done properly still a very powerful kick.
So now let’s take a look at the Kinesiological Analysis of the kick.

Phase One: Take Off
There are various schools of thoughts on how the chamber should be raised.
• Some styles and individual practitioners come up with vertical shin.
• Others add rotation at the take off.
We will analyze a vertical lower leg:
The chamber comes up similar to the front kick and the rest of the body resembles a basketball layup.
On the kicking leg: the hip flexors assisted by the adductors flex the hip. Hamstrings flex the knee. Tibialis Anterior dorsi flexes the foot to expose the heel as the point of impact.
In the supporting leg: the Quadriceps extends the knee, Gluteus Maximus assisted by the Hamstrings extend the hip. Gluteus Medius and Minimus stabilize the hip. Calf completes the push off.
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Spinal Extensors and Quadratus Lumborum are primary core stabilizers, especially if the torso is not completely vertical prior to take off.
Even at this stage, where flexibility does not seem to be a large factor. Allowing the muscles to lengthen properly will boost the take off.
In the right leg Quadriceps Vastii (Three Short Heads of the Quadriceps) lengthen to all the knee to flex. Gluteus Maximus, Adductor Magnus Ischial Fibers and Adductor Longus stretch allows the knee to gain its maximum height. Calf, especially Soleus flexibility, permits the heel to be exposed as the point of impact.
In the left leg Hip Flexors and Adductors Lengthen to allow for full hip extension. Tibialis Anterior allow the foot to point.
Phase Two: Impact
“You watch too many movies” maybe the right phrase used here.
Not always, but rather frequently the kick extended prior to impact. This looks great as the audience get to see how a fully extended kick looks like.
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However in practicality it’s like extending a punch straight at the elbow and trying to push someone with it. The leg must not be straight at the point of impact.
• More biomechanics at the upcoming articles. Right now let’s take a look at the muscles involved in delivering the force of the kick to the target.
Muscles Involved
At the full extension the kicking leg is medially rotated and abducted. Three muscles carry out these two actions:
1. Gluteus Medius
2. Gluteus Minimus
3. Tensor Fascia Latae.
The impact however falls on the shoulders of two giants:

1. Quadriceps
2. Gluteus Maximus.
The Former extends the knee and later extends the hip. Tibialis Anterior makes sure the proper point of impact slams into the target.
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The supporting leg is characteristically flexed at the knee, abducted and externally rotated at the hip. There many variations to this position.
• Some kickers have their legs just slightly bent during Flying Side Kick
• Others lift the heel as high as the abdomen.
The main point of folding the other leg, is prevent the foot from touching the floor, before the kick does it job. After all the force must be transferred, while the fighter is airborne. The left leg position resembling a “half-butterfly” is Sartorius favorite. Other muscles assist at the hip and knee.

A complete lateral flexion calls for contraction of all the core muscles on the right side. Right Obliques, Right Side of the Rectus Abdominis, Right Quadratus Lumborum and Spinal Extensors hip to pull the Iliac Crest and Floating Ribs together. Psoas Major and Minor also assist.
Lengthening
While the non-kicking leg flexibility can make a kicker look good, it’s the core and kicking leg flexibility that really counts.
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• In the left leg the adductors and pectineus are the primary muscles that get stretched, providing that the heel comes up to the groin or abdomen.
• The right adductors and pectineous also lengthen to allow abduction. They are not at full stretch however, due to medial rotation of the side kick.
• A lesser mentioned muscle called Quadratus Femoris, is both and adductor and an external rotator. It is completely elongated during the kick.
• Of course Calf is stretched to allow dorsi flexion.
• In the core all the muscles on the left side of the body are expanded, to allow flexion to the right.

Part Three: Recovery and Landing
If a martial artist wants to keep doing this kick, he must learn how to land. Two actions are combined here.
1. Pulling the leg back from the kick
2. Absorbing the force of landing.
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Landing
Not everyone lands the same way.
• Some kickers land with a front kick chamber
• Others with abducted and medially rotated side kick chamber.
• Due to a frequent attempt to utilize Glutes in the kick, many kickers land sideways and even turned away from the target.
We will analyze a landing with the kicking leg medially rotated and landing leg laterally rotated.

• Tensor Fascial Latae is at great mechanical advantage, when the hip if flexed and medially rotated.
• Gluteus Medius and Minimus favor the medial rotation.
• Pectineus and adductors want to help, but be completely or partially negated by abduction, if the is on the side as opposed to being in front.
• Other hip flexors favor the lateral rotation, so they will be negated with increased internal rotation of the femur.
On the landing leg, the Quadriceps and Calf will absorb the brunt of impact.
• Medial and Lateral Rotators will work to stabilize the hip.
• If the torso falls slightly forward, Gluteus Maximus and Hamstrings will fire to keep it in check. This usually happen with very internally rotated kicking leg.
On the other hand if the kicking leg recovers into front kick position, the torso may fall back slightly(shoulder behind the hips) and hip flexors combined with adductors will keep it in check.
Core
Muscles of the core will mimic the position of the torso and fire in chain with the lower body.
For example:
• Spinal extensors and quadratus lumborum will contract with glutes and hamstrings if shoulder move in front of the hips.
• If the shoulder moves too much back, abdominals and obliques will activate.
• Right sided core muscles will contract, if the right hip is raised and an attempt is made to keep the torso vertical.

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Interview with Paul Zaichik the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning

While searching for Martial Arts training methods I came across some very interesting videos about flexibility, methods of stretching and the scientific explanation and reasoning behind them. Being impressed by these videos and the knowledge they presented I contacted the author Paul Zaichik and invited him to write for our moosin online magazine. Paul accepted my invitation and since then his articles have become one of the most popular, reaching up to 45K readers per article. Based on this popularity I invited Paul to do an interview where he could explain his work and the methods he has developed.
Paul’s interest in Martial Arts dates back to his early childhood. During his Martial Art training Paul realized that many advanced students could barely kick at head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of modern martial artists. More and more students were utilising Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop many effective techniques over the years that has become known as ElasticSteel. I believe that this interview will clarify some matters related to stretching and will benefit our readers who have a particular interest in this area.
Dr Zibby Kruk
Editor-in-chief Moosin online magazine

Zibby Kruk: So Paul tell us a little bit about Kinesiological Stretching Techniques.

Paul Zaichik: KST (Kinesiological Stretching Techniques) is a method of stretching the muscles. There are many differences from standard stretching techniques. KST is different from Dynamic, Static, PNF, etc is that one muscle is targeted at a time. This is opposed to many muscles targeted together.

Zibby Kruk: What are the advantages of targeting one muscle at a time?

Paul Zaichik: Well for example let’s say we are working on a “hip flexors” stretch. Most people assume that a deep lunge targets the “hip flexor(s)”. Some people use other positions that extend the hip joint (bring the leg behind the line of the body), such as Pigeon or Modified Dancer’s pose. In reality there are 10 muscles that flex the hip (prevent the hip extension). The 6 hip flexors and 4 adductors. Anyone of them can prevent the extension of the hip. Targeting them separately allows to focus on the problematic one(s). At the same time, not all skills require the muscles to be equality stretched. What we do in EasyFlexibility and ElasticSteel is break the skills down into muscles and target those that need stretching for fastest results.
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Zibby Kruk: How do you isolate the muscles?

Paul Zaichik: The muscles can be isolated because each one does something else. Each muscle is unique. For example if we can come back to the hip flexors for a second to demonstrate the point. All hip flexors flex the hip. However some favor medial rotation and some favor lateral rotation. Some prefer flexion with abduction and some with adduction. Some cross the knee and some don’t. Those who cross the knee may flex it or extend it. So for example Sartorius. It flexes the hip, laterally rotates and assist in hip abduction. The only muscle that does the same is Rectus Femoris. Also a hip flexor, assists in hip lateral rotation and abduction. However former flexes and medially rotates the knee and later extends the knee. The position of the knee would different between which of the two muscles we are targeting. Providing that we extend, adduct and medially rotate the hip.

Zibby Kruk: How would you stretch the hamstrings for example with your technique?

Paul Zaichik: Hamstrings is 4 heads. We isolate the lateral and medial heads, since they do different things. Do you mean how we target the muscle specifically or how do we get a person to bend forward at the hip, like in sitting sit and reach?

Zibby Kruk: What about both?

Paul Zaichik: The two are actually different things, because a person who wants to touch his chest to his knee(s) with a straight leg, is stretching more than hamstrings. Other muscles must be stretched first. So gluteus maximus, piriformis, ischial head of adductor magnus, and in some cases adductor longus (it becomes an extensor past 70 degrees), posterior fibers of gluteus medius, and calve. Of course ankle position and hip position will dictate if some of the names muscles need stretching.
If we are targeting hamstrings muscle specifically, we can work it as an extensor of the hip vs the flexor of the knee. If it’s lateral hamstrings for example (which is very tight in most people), we can use horizontal adduction and medial rotation as one of the action, usually as leverage.

Zibby Kruk: The concept of Target and Leverage is unique to Kinesiological Stretching techniques. Can you talk about that?

Paul Zaichik: Yes, in basic terms a target is the direction where we want to stretch the muscle. For example in a sitting straddle (Side Split), we want the legs to come apart to 180 degrees. That is our target. So by moving the legs away from each other we are moving them into the direction of the target.
However the legs may and usually refuse to move past certain point. To keep them moving, we use leverage. The leverage are short movement, that target the same muscle groups. However unlike our targeted direction, which is usually a specific skill (Side Split), the leverage moves the joint to target the same muscle in it’s other actions. For example, adductors are medial rotators. Doing the opposite (Laterally Rotating the hip, stretches the muscles further)
The main point to understand is that if we perform outward rotation we get the flexibility in the muscles that we don’t need, at least not in the way we have it. So we stretch the inner thighs through rotation, but we don’t care about the hip rotation at the moment, we want the legs to go further apart. Well, when that rotational stretch is let go, there is “space”. This means few more degrees to space the legs out, with decreased resistance. 14459685_1120768561348349_1968650002_n

Zibby Kruk: So what is the advantage of using target and leverage over regular stretches like done in yoga?

Paul Zaichik: The advantage is speed of flexibility progress. If we stay with the Side Split, let’s say. One would either sit with legs apart and nothing happens. Just sitting there and no progress. Either that or one would somehow force the legs out, like with a “torture stretching device”, against pain and resistance. With KST you move into leverage, come back out of it and all of the suddenly, you are more flexible.

Zibby Kruk: Can someone just keep doing KST until a full split is mastered, if there is a small gain with each Target/Leverage movement?

Paul Zaichik: In one workout, you mean?

Zibby Kruk: Yes

Paul Zaichik: Significant flexibility can be gained in one workout, but we don’t recommend getting greedy. However we know of the possible progress one can quickly make, because people did get gluttonous in the past. In EasyFlexibility we prefer to make progress, secure it and move on.

Zibby Kruk: I want to ask you about EasyFlexibility in a second. Can you expand on “make progress, secure it and move on” bit?

Paul Zaichik: So one EasyFlexibility/ElasticSteel developments was an ability to keep the progress received from Kinesiological Stretching Techniques. People got pretty flexible in their training session, using KST. Let’s say they could barely touch toes at the start of the session and would be palming the toes at end of the session. Then the next workout comes and they are at square one again. Barely touching toes. So exercises were developed to keep what was gained. So that at the next session, they would start more flexible.

Zibby Kruk: So next time they would be contacting their palms to their toes?

Paul Zaichik: No, they would not be as flexible as they ended up last time, but more flexible than they started. So they would not palm the toes, but they would be touching with finger tips, while before they could not. So the point is to start a little deeper and end a little deeper each time. After some training, what was the deepest flexibility, becomes the starting flexibility.

Zibby Kruk: I see and what kind of exercises allow one to keep flexibility?

Paul Zaichik: Various strength and movement exercises. Their aim is to make the newly developed flexibility range accepted by the body as normal and comfortable.

Zibby Kruk: How did you come up with KST?

Paul Zaichik: One of my friends was stretching his shoulders for swimming. He wanted to develop good medial rotation. He was on the floor on the side, trying to push his hand closer to the floor. It was not really going. Then he turned in such a way that he created a horizontal flexion in the shoulder. So basically he did the leverage. As he came back, his arm went deeper. So he did the target. I noticed that. When I saw it, I realized based on my experience in Kinesiology that both of those actions, targeted the same muscle group. (Posterior Deltoid, Teres Minor and Infraspinatus) Long story short, I did the stretch myself and it worked. Next I did the same for all the muscles and it worked as well. And Kinesiological Stretching was born.

Zibby Kruk: Named after Kinesiology?

Paul Zaichik: Yes, exactly.

Zibby Kruk: People often confuse EasyFlexibility, ElasticSteel and Kinesiological Stretching techniques are they often used interchangeably. What is the difference between them?

Paul Zaichik: ElasticSteel Method of Athletic Conditioning is a company I founded to share my knowledge, experience and research in various fields. Flexibility Training, Strength Training, BodyWeight Training, Martial Arts.
EasyFlexibility is a brand under ElasticSteel umbrella. Martial Artists who practice the method often call it ElasticSteel, while dancers, yogis, cheerleaders, gymnasts and other athletes call it EasyFlexibility.
EasyFlexibility is also a brand signifying the “Elastic” part of ElasticSteel focusing on Stretching. Several brands signified the strength component of EasyFlexibility, with ZejaX being the leading one right now.
Kinesiological Stretching Techniques is the way of muscle elongation in ES and EF programs. However, as I said before, it’s only a part of the EF and ES. It’s completed by other techniques.14445463_1120768194681719_1158648316_n

Zibby Kruk: So in short, ElasticSteel is for martial artists EasyFlexibility is for different athletes and Kinesiological Stretching are stretching techniques for everyone?

Paul Zaichik: Yes.

Zibby Kruk: So what is next for Elasticsteel?

Paul Zaichik: Still looking for ways to improve the system. Trying to find ways to develop flexibility faster, but still keep it safe and sustainable. As soon as we discover and test something, we make it available for everyone.

Zibby Kruk: Thank you Paul, it was great chatting with you.

Paul Zaichik: Thank you as well

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Anatomy of the Twisting Kick

Twist Kick, is called Bituro Chagi in Korean Martial Arts. Has lately been used by many non-Korean martial arts styles including various Kungfu, Karate and Mixed Styles.

The twist kick lands it’s effectiveness to surprise. It’s attack comes from an unexpected direction from the opposite side of the round house. If performed as a stationary kick, it derives it’s power mainly from the extension of the knee and thus strength of the quadriceps. Biomechanics of the kick, make the hip action a rather difficult accelerator. In other words the pelvic momentum is rather difficult to generate, in order to transfer it into the knee. It’s possibly, but more challenging than the roundhouse kick or front kick for example. Using full mass of the body, as opposed to just the pelvic whip, is a much more effective method of generating force. However that is a biomechanic model of the kick and we will leave it to the next article. Today’s article focuses on the kinesiological model of the kick. In this article we will discuss the muscles that contact and lengthen to make the correct Twist Kick possible. There are 3 phases to the kick. Phase one and phase three are similar.

Phase One – Chambering the Kick or Folding of the Kick
The kicking hip and knee flexes. There are some stylistic as well as individual variations in this face. Some styles and/or practitioners will lift the knee with a vertical shin. Others will already begin the turnout at the hip. Some will face the opponent squared, other will turn partially. The kicking foot may already expose the ball of the foot or instep, or the sticking point may form as the foot moves toward the target.

In general all the hip flexors will participate in lifting the knee straight up. Rectus Femoris will be negated by contraction of the hamstrings to flex the knee.

If the hip will already turnout at the folding of the kick, muscle behavior will change. Sartorius who favors the lateral rotation will take on greater role. Muscles that favor the medial rotation, will take on a lesser role. Those are all adductors, and Tensor Fascial Latae. They will still participate, but to a lesser degree. Two deep and powerful hip flexors: Psoas and Illiacus, favor the flexion of the hip and medial rotation, will contract full force.

Quadriceps Vastii (3 Short Heads of Quadriceps) will stretch in preparation for a kick, as they are the deliverer of the force. Gluteus Maximus, Ischial Fibers of Adductor Magnus and Piriformis will lengthen as well.
In the standing leg quadriceps will contract to keep the partially flexed knee from collapsing. Calf will contract as the knee moves over the toes. The center of gravity will shift left, over the left foot. This will activate the gluteal group to check the adduction of the supporting leg. Gluteus Maximus will also work to stop further hip flexion. If the torso leans back, the hip flexor and anterior core muscles will fire. Unless the right hip flexors are very strong, chances are the posterior pelvic till will be initiated to lift the kicking leg higher.

Phase Two
Phase Two can be looked at as a demonstration of form or power and reach. From the form point of view, the knee extends. From the power and reach point of view the pelvis is shifted and torso leans away. This allows the kick to travel the furthest, both toward the target and into the target, as not to be pulled back too early.
The extension of the knee is carried out by the quadriceps as mentioned earlier. While this is a strong muscle, it’s contracting force alone is not enough to generate significant damage. To do that, the quads must be a last link in a well executed force generating chain. If the kick is slowed down various hip flexors and adductor will work to hold the hip in the right position.

Sartorius will be negated partially by the extension of the knee, as it is a flexor of the knee. All adductors will assist by “won’t be happy” by lateral rotation. In addition Gracilis will be partially negated by knee extension. Distal attachment or Sartorius and even Gracilis is particularly vulnerable to injury, if the kick is not properly prepared. Due to the tendency to rotate out at knee and not at the hip, most kickers will rely heavily on insertions of these muscles and medial hamstrings to decelerate the kick. This happens because the just named muscles will not only prevent the knee hyper extension, but also hyper lateral rotation. Having flexible medial rotators of the hip and strong flexors/lateral rotators will protect from this type of injury. Later being the Psoas and Illiacus.

The muscles working on the supporting leg are virtually the same as for phase one. Of course core and flexors and adductors may engage more, with an attempt to either reach further with the kick or if the hamstrings are not flexible enough and pelvis must tilt to compensate.

Finally the muscles lengthening on the kicking leg will still be the same with an addition of the hamstrings. Later will be stretched due to extended knee. Tibialis anterior will be stretched to plantar flex the ankle, if the point of impact is the instep. Flexor of the toes will lengthen if the ball of the foot is the point of impact.

Want to master a twist kick? There is a special program for it. Get it here:

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Anatomy of the Axe kick

Today we are going to learn the kinesiology of an Axe kick. This kick can be thrown with a rear leg or the front leg. The Axe kick comes down on the target in it’s basic form. While looks like a simple kick, it has many variations. It can come from inside out or outside. Thrown at angles, with open or square hips. Some styles prefer a specific variation of the kick, as do individual practitioners. Flexibility of the kicker, height, preferred fighting distance, other techniques in the arsenal are some of the factors which will decide, how your Axe is thrown.
In this article a rear, right leg Axe kick is analyzed, front a Orthodox Stance.

Phase One – Preparation for the Kick.
The legs are bent and the center of gravity drops. The Quadriceps are primary muscles that take the pressure. Rear leg Calf is activated. The torso rotate to the left. Right external and left internal Obliques perform this rotation. Right Gluteus Maximus, assisted by the Quads, Hamstrings and Calf push the body forward.

As the mass of the body is thrust forward, rear Hip Flexors and Adductors lengthen. Right internal and left external Obliques stretch due to rotation. This rotation will be used to lunch the right hip forward.

Phase Two – Approaching the Target
Right leg is raised over the target. Left hip is turned out. The torso can either be sideways or squared to the target. Right Hip Flexors and Adductors flex the hip, while the Auadriceps keep the knee extended. Slightly flexed supporting leg calls for the tension in Quadriceps and Calf. Gluteal Group may also fire, especially if the pelvis is tilted laterally to allow the right side of the pelvis to rise.

Right Hamstrings will bear the brunt of the stretch. While Gluteus Maximus and Extensors Part of the Adductor Magnus will also lengthen. Depending on the torso position, other muscles may also lengthen. For example Piriformis stretches if the torso is squared to the kicking leg or other Adductors, besides Magnus if the kicking leg is on the side of the body. Adductors of the standing leg will be stretched, and even more so if the femur is turned out.

Phase Three – Striking The Target
Hamstrings will be the primary muscle to execute the kick. It works both as the extensor of the hip and as the flexor of the knee or at least as the stabilizer of the knee against hyper extension. Adductor Magnus and Even Adductor Longus are also well positioned to drive the leg down. Gluteus Maximus however is not in the best position. While it’s a very powerful extensor of the hip, at such high degree of flexion, it’s not a major player. There is a way to improve power in the kick and perhaps recruit more muscles in their primary ranges. To do this, one must lean back during the last phase of the kick. This puts muscles into more advantageous positions to pull and at the same time drives the center of gravity forward. This also increases the reach of the kick.

Leaning back engages the flexors of the core. Obliques, Rectus Abdominis and Psoas Minor. At the same time the Hip flexors and upper Adductors of the supporting leg get engaged. The amount of participation in relation to each other (Hip Flexors vs Adductors) will depend on the degree of the supporting leg turn out. More turn out will involve the Adductors more. Less turnout will involve the Hip Flexors more.

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Anatomy of the Spinning Hook Kick

I have been asked for a long time to do anatomy of various kicks. Most precise it’s the kinesiology of the kicks.
Today is Spinning Hook Kick or Reverse Hook Kick. This kick relies on the rotation force of the body. There are many variations to this kick and while kinesiology would be almost the same, the biomechanics would be different. For those who don’t know the difference between the two disciplines; In short Kinesiology is which muscles are used during various phases of the kick, and biomechanics is the “physics” of human movement. With focus on the calculations of variable such as distance, acceleration, torque, center of mass, base of support, etc.
To understand how biomechanics would be different, we can take a look at two people both throwing the same kick. If one is leaning away more than the other, in terms of the torso the same muscles would be holding up the body (Oblques, Abdominals, Quadratus Lumborum, Paraspinals). So a person who’s torso is more upright is using the same muscles to the person who’s torso more leaned over. However there is a difference in center of mass to base of support relation, torque, etc. So biomechanics are different. And this is same technique, but different level of strength and/or flexibility.
Even if two people have the same strength/flexibility level, they may choose to throw the kick differently. Perhaps due to distance to the their opponent, the set up for follow up technique, amount of power needed, etc. So not every kick will look exactly the same.
In this lesson a “standard” Spinning Hook Kick Is Broken Down.
Phase One
The torso rotates and kicking leg is lifted into the chamber. Right Leg Kick is analyzed. Hip flexors of the right leg lift the femur up. Adductors also flex the hip. Hamstrings with the assistance of Sartorius, Gracilis, Popliteus and Gastrocnemius flex the knee. Gluteus Maximus, and hamstrings keep the left hip in extension, giving just a little bit to drop the center of mass. Quadriceps Vastii (3 Short Heads of Quadriceps) contract to keep the knee in extended position, with a slight give. Calve contracts on the left leg. Left abductors are activated because the center of mass shifts to the left to compensate to left leg support. The torso rotate to the right. Left external obliques rotate to the opposite side. Right internal obliques rotate to the same side. Right Quadratus Lumborum assist in right pelvic hike. There are also many things happening in the upper spine and upper body, but we’ll focus on the lower body and core.
Phase Two
In this phase the leg extends and prepares to flex quickly catching the target in the path of the foot. Some kickers will let the torso spin just a split second ahead of the kick and some will allow the right shoulder and right food to pass at the same time.
The right leg now extends with quadriceps doing the extension. Abductors hold the weight of the leg. They are Gluteus Medius, Minimus, Upper Fibers of Maximus, and Tensor Fascia Latae. All the core muscles on the right side of the body now contract to keep the torso vertical. They are abdominals, obliques, quadratus lumborum and perispinals. Iliopsoas also engage. Left hamstrings contract while lengthening to allow the right side of the pelvis to come up and make job of the abductors easier. The abductors and adductors of the left leg balance out each other depending on where the pelvis is in relation to the supporting leg at any given moment. Left vastii contract, if the supporting leg is flexed. Right adductors and pectineus lengthen to allow the leg to come up. Right hamstrings lengthen, more so if the is not in line with the kick, but precedes it.
Phase Three
This is the phase where the impact happens. Flexors of the knee contact hard. The flexion of the knee may happen to various degree, but the muscles that decrease the joint angle participate. This is primarily hamstrings. Depending on the position of the ankle, gastrocnemius may assist. The gluteus maximus keeps the right hip in extension. The left hamstrings may lengthen even more under tension to shift the pelvis in the direction of the kick. Left glutes and deep 6 external rotators may contract to help the external rotation of the supporting hip, if the supporting foot is planted. The abductors still keep the leg up and adductors still are relaxed not to inhibit the abductors. The muscles of the core may have exactly the same participation as in Phase Two. The exception is if the kicker forcefully counter rotates the torso to the left. In this case the right external obliques will engage and left internal obliques will engage. Of course the quadriceps will lengthen to allow the hamstrings to fire full force. If the toes are pointed, the calve will also engage.

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Common Kick Injuries

Today I would like to talk about injuries during kicking. If there were no injuries, a lot more people would have enjoyed their Tae Kwon Do and other martial arts practices.
There are several reasons for injuries and here are the main ones.
1. Lack of Proper Range of Motion
2. Lack of Proper Conditioning
3. Insufficient Warm Up
4. Incorrect Technique
5. Not enough recover time between sessions
Beside those, there are many others such as mental stress, lack of proper nutrients, lack of sleep, congenital weakness (such as hernia), etc.
Today we will address the first one.
There are many instances under which a martial artist can get injured in respect to lacking proper range of motion for a given kick or group of kicks.
Sometimes, an athlete took time off from training. When coming back to training, he expect the body to have the same range of motion that he is left with. This is often not the case.
In some cases, even time off from training can be compensated with long, careful and thought out warm up. Such as the ones presented in ESKMS (ElasticSteel Kick Mastery System)
While many muscles can be effected, the video is talking specifically about the Upper Adductors/ Inner Hip Flexors. This area is a common site of injury.
To extend a side kick (Or back kick, or hook kick, etc) these muscles must stretch. Not only so, they must contract toward the end of the kick, do decelerate the kick and pull it back. The higher the kick, the more they are stretched. (Please see the supine abduction test in the video)
There is one method of training the kick that is particular dangerous and prone to injury. That is kicking at full speed without hitting a target.
When striking a target, the leg does not extend all the way or if it does the target helps to decelerate the kick. This helps the muscles in question and protects them.
When doing slow kick without a target, the muscles may not extend all the way and the kick will simple lack last few degrees of extension. If however the kick is forced to extend all the way, the lower back will curve and compensate. (This can place the strain on the lower back, but that’s another issue)
However, when the kick is thrown at full speed without a target, the lower back usually won’t hyper extend. The reason for this is because gluteus maximus will be activated as an extensor of the hip. Contraction of this muscle, keep the back hyper extension in check and if anything flattens the back. This puts all the hip deceleration stress on the muscles in question. (In ESKMS level 1 On Line Kicking Seminar, we spend a lot of time developing and adjusting the core/hip relationship specific to kicking techniques.)
The last paragraphs underlines the fact that just because you can do a slow kick and have full range of motion, does not mean that you can now try to kick at full speed. Take the test, while on your back as shown in the video.

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Overstretching for the skills you want. You need more flexibility than you think you do

So how much flexibility do you really need?
Say you want a 180 degree Penche or a Side Tilt. Or to hold a head high Martial Arts Kick to your friends face.
1. If you can do full split is that enough for a 180 Tilt?
2. Is being able to stretch to your buddy’s head, enough for the kick you want?
The answer is no. See the video and read further explanation below:

Muscle resistance starts long before the end range. How high can you lift your arm overhead? Can it go higher if someone helped you?
• Chances are: Yes.
That is because your lats and other muscles pull down, like elastic bands. Same thing happen at your hip, core, ankle, etc.
The more you go past the relaxed range, the more antagonists (deltoids to lats, hip flexors to hamstrings, abductors to adductors) will pull back down. And to get a better relaxed range, you need more flexibility.
For example (not to scale) 150 degree max range, the resistance starts at 110-120, sometime even under 100. For 180 it starts at 140-160.

• So how much do you need to feel no resistance at 180?

Chances are you will still feel it at 180 even if you can do over 200. But the more you can do, the less resistance you will feel. This means more effortless technique. Less injury. More grace, speed, power, etc.
Tip: Antagonists short range strength is great, but it can only compensate so much. Flexibility is the easier way to go and with EasyFlexibility, it’s actually easy. If you want more flexible hamstrings here you go. Splits here you go.

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Master Sanders USA seminars and grading report

On 30 May 2016, Master Peter Sanders and his wife departed from the Netherlands and arrived in Oscoda, Michigan (Birthplace of Paul Bunyan). The purpose of this visit was to conduct an ITF HQ senior black belt examination at the Munyon’s Korean Martial Arts Academy and conduct a self-defense seminar. During his visit he got to experience a variety of activities. These activities included observing Mr. Michael Munyon’s Taekwon-Do and HapKiDo programs (kids and adults), Urban Defense Solutions Firearms training course, local shopping and enjoying the fine dining offered in Oscoda.

The students of the Munyon’s Korean Martial Arts Academy (registered dojang with ITF HQ) received good reports on their Taekwon-Do training during Master Sander’s visit. On 3 June (Friday), three examinations were observed and evaluated by Master Sanders.

Mast. Munyon performing during his 7 Dan test

Mast. Munyon performing during his 7 Dan test

From 5 pm until 6 pm, several Taekwon-Do students were examined for their next rank and performed the entire composition of Taekwon-Do (fundamental movements, tuls, sparring, breaking and more). Next the HapKiDo candidates were evaluated and demonstrated HapKiDo hyungs, falls/rolls, strikes, joint locks, take downs, weapons and more. Finally, from 7-9 pm black belt candidates were evaluated. Amongst them were Mrs. Patricia Care (4th Dan) from Pennsylvania and Mr. Michael Munyon (6th Dan). Candidates performed a variety of Gup, Dan and their rank required Tuls, Step-Sparring, Hosinsul and Breaking Techniques.
Master Sanders observing Dan test

Master Sanders observing test


Following a senior black belt examination was Master Sander’s Self-Defense seminar. This seminar was open to anyone regardless of rank, experience, affiliation and etc. Participants comprised of people with no self-defense experience, gup ranks, black belt ranks, local police officers and more. Master Sanders shared his unique style of self-defense which comprised of Taekwon-Do, HapKiDo and Tuekgong Moosool. His 4 hour seminar helped both beginners and Master ranked black belts bolster their self-defense toolbox. Several participants came from all over Michigan, Pennsylvania and Colorado. A variety of martial art styles were present to include Taekwon-Do, HapKiDo and Tang Soo Do. Guest black belts included Mr. David Quigg (founder of www.bluecottagetkd.com), Mr. William Kocur, owner of Kocur’s TKD, Ms. Jerri James, Master Rick Brown, owner of Sabumnim martial arts, Master Floyd Soo, owner of Floyd Soo’s Korean Karate and Master Raymond Saint out of Wisconsin and a Tul Tour participant. Certificates of participation and photos were taken upon the conclusion of the seminar.
Senior instructors with Master Sanders

Senior instructors with Master Sanders (L-R: Mr Quigg, Mr Kocur, Ms Care, Mast. Munyon, Mast. Sanders)


Later that evening, Mr. Munyon hosted a semi-formal dinner at Hsing’s Garden located in East Tawas, Michigan. Over 50 people attended this prestigious evening. Students who passed their examinations were presented with their new belts and certificates. Additionally, four individuals were presented with “recognition awards” for their outstanding contributions to the martial arts.
Presentation of 7 Dan black belt to Master Munyon

Presentation of 7 Dan black belt to Master Munyon


After these presentations Master Sanders and his wife were presented with gifts for their outstanding leadership and marksmanship on the shooting range. Moments later, Master Sanders had an announcement. He stated that Mrs. Patricia Care was promoted to 5th degree black belt and Mr. Munyon was officially promoted to 7th degree black belt. Mr. Munyon had a little extra surprise for one of his students. During this event, Mr. Munyon proposed marriage to his long term girlfriend, Ms. Kelly Sowerby. She said “yes”. This was indeed a special event for everyone. In conclusion, members of ITF HQ work hard to ensure high standards, quality training and quality training, which in the ends results in quality people. For more information about ITF HQ visit www.itfofficial.nu.

AUTHOR: Munyon ID picMaster Michael L. Munyon (7 Degree Black Belt) is the owner of the Munyon’s Korean Martial Arts Academy/Urban Defense Solutions located in Oscoda, Michigan and travel throughout the state giving lectures and training on topics such as Work Place Violence, Active Shooter, Physical Security and more.
He served his entire career in the Security Forces career field. His assignments include Montana, Michigan, California, Korea (Kunsan and Osan Air Base), Mississippi, Portugal and Nebraska. During this time he has deployed to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan on numerous occasions. Mast. Munyon has been recognized for his work with the United States and Foreign military by senior enlisted leaders and has received numerous awards of recognition for his talents and volunteer work. In 2009 Mast. Munyon was inducted into the Masters Hall of Fame in Long Beach, California. Later in 2013, Mast. Munyon was inducted into the Official Taekwon-Do Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada. Finally, in 2016, Mast. Munyon was inducted into the United States KiDo Federation Hall of Fame earning the award entitled “Master of the Year”.

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Side Kick Height and the Supporting Leg

Side Kick Height is the one of the main issues kickers struggle with. In the article we will address the main cause of the kicking height barrier. The supporting leg.
While a number of factors can prevent the height of the kick, supporting leg flexibility and strength is the major one. Sometimes a kicker can significantly improve the height of the kick, simply by dropping torso in the opposite direction of the kick. If this is the case, supporting leg is most likely not the main cause. But rather the kicking leg and torso. (We will get into those, in the upcoming articles)
If you did the test (torso dropped and kick did not come up higher), you need to strengthen and stretch the kicking leg. In the process, you will also develop balance, which will help your kicks even further.
The video below presents the progression for development the strength and flexibility in the supporting leg.

AUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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