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Category Archives: Teaching Methods

Understanding Kinesiological Stretching Techniques: Application of the Butterfly Stretch

We improve progress and evolve when we step out of our comfort zone. This applies to everything in life. Stretching techniques are no exception. If the old one is not getting you any further, it makes sense to try something new. Sometimes new is different, often too different for a comfortable transition.
For this reason when we bring new ideas to the table, we can also keep parts of the old ones, too.
Today we will do the same for people who spend years doing relaxed stretches. We will take a common stretching position called The Butterfly and apply a Kinesiological Stretching principle to it, called Target and Leverage.

We all know what butterfly stretch looks like, right?

Now we will use our Target and Leverage on it, to quickly get more flexible.
Are you ready?
This next part will explain how and why this technique works. If you want the insight, please read the next paragraph. If you just want to test the move, jump down and watch the video.
The Butterfly Stretch is aimed primarily at 4 muscles:
• Adductor Magnus
• Adductor Longus
• Adductor Brevis
• Pectineus
All 4 muscles below adduct (and butterfly calls for abducted position). They also rotate medially and the stretch in question rotates laterally.


Remember Kinesiological Stretching Techniques can only be applied if more than one action of the muscle is targeted, which is the case here.
Many other muscles are not fully participating. For example the Gluteus Medius and Minimus stretch at lateral rotation, but abducted hips shorten them. The Gracilis is also an adductor playing the same role as the 4 muscles targeted, but a flexed knee shortens this muscle.
So pushing the knees out is pitted against leaning forward. Either action can be chosen as the target. In this case bringing the knees as far apart from each other and into the floor is chosen at the Target. Rotating the hips is chosen as the Leverage.
In case you are new to this, what is the difference between Target and Leverage? Target progresses you into deeper into the stretch and leverage moves back and forth.

One of our KST teacher who likes paintball explained it through this story:
You and another guy want to close in on the target. One draws the fire, while the other runs back and forth between two areas of cover. He does not get closer to the target, he just forms a distraction. While the other guy runs closer, and hides behind a cover in a closer position to the target, each time his “diversion” partner runs back and forth.
The guy constantly running forward is the “Target” and the guy running between two points is the “Leverage”. The guy performing the Leverage is not progressing forward, but he is allowing the other one to progress.
So Target is the part of movement that keeps getting closer to the goal, while Leverage just moves back and forth.
Now with this example we can go on.

Let’s do the exercise
Sit with your back against the wall.
Place your hands on the knees.
Press the knees out to find your starting range.
Keep the knees apart. Your target is ready.
Now let’s move into the leverage. Inhale deeply. Hyperextend the spine. This hyper extension creates internal rotation in the hips. This is your leverage.
Exhale and return your back to the original position. As the back is returning, press further on the knees. The target must progress, at the same time leverage is returning.

Don’t wait for the leverage to return and press the knee then.

Think about it. When do you want to run toward the target. When the other guy is moving or when he is already back? When does the diversion work the best?

Another important point often misunderstood by people who been doing relaxed stretches forever: don’t hold the stretch!

Movement is Key!
Move each action (Target and Leverage). Do that several times and stop. Take a quick break and repeat again. Give the muscle a chance to adapt to what you are asking of it. Several attempts with fewer reps are better than one long attempt or set. And don’t hold the target after you got deep into it. Yes, it feels good to be deeper than ever before. But it’s not the best practice. Do it a few times and you will be able to hold that same position, but not without tension and without effort.

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"Malaysia Inspired" – Tul Tour Program Report

Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” – Day 1 (14-Nov-2016)
It has finally begun. The last tul tour (TT) Taekwon-Do & Cultural program for 2016 in the homeland commenced today. A team from Malaysia arrived at Incheon airport. Dressed in dobok, ready for action and welcomed by the TT organizers. After a short briefing and introduction the team was taken to their hotel in Seoul where the official welcoming ceremony took place. airport

The team from Malaysia consists of ten enthusiastic members and although this is so far the smallest group that has ever come for a TT program it was possible to accommodate such a small group through negotiation and arrangements to provide a satisfactory program.
For the welcome reception members wore traditional Malaysian outfits “baju melayu” with some also wearing traditional Indian costumes but before the opening reception the participants enjoyed Korean bulgogi delivered by a company that provides halal food in Korea. welc11c1bThe organizers managed to accommodate the dietary requirements of the mostly Muslim team members. So far, TT organizers have always been able to accommodate the participants dietary requirements whether they were dictated by religious believes or dietary choice.
The welcome reception began with the official introduction of the TT organizers and a presentation about Korean customs. Then the participants learned about the daily program for the entire week. Toward the end of the reception the TT attendees were divided into two teams that will face various challenges through the entire program and at the need the team that will accumulate the more points will win a price.
The welcome reception concluded with group photos being taken and informal discussion and the introduction of the Malaysian members. Everybody then retired to their rooms to get some well deserved rest and prepare for the next day.

Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 2 (15-Nov-2016)
It was a chilly morning when tt participants left the Baiton hotel in Seoul and traveled to Deoksugung palace to watch and participate in the guard changing ceremony.
On this occasion the organizers were able to accommodate all 5 male members of the tt program to become active participants of the guard changing ceremony. This created history since this is the first time five TT participants could act as generals and palace officials with two of the youngest, at 14 years of age, acting as the TT drummer and as a General officiating the ceremony. Considering the fact that some Hwarang generals were only 15-19 years of age this was appropriate and rewarding.2a
After the ceremony we took pictures with our new officials and moved to the Seoul Mosque so our guests could contemplate and pray, which was followed by a delicious lunch at the restaurant that had provided dinner for the welcome reception the night before. The lunch was very tasty and highly appreciated by the tultourers.
The next location was Dosan Park. It only took us about 40 min to arrive at Dosan park and museum for training. Before training we watched a documentary about Dosan while visiting the museum and then gathered together at the Dosan monument where we spent approximately 1.5h discovering the technical secrets of Dosan tul. The training was conducted by Master Zibby Kruk. At the end of the training the two teams performed Dosan tul with the best team being awarded bonus points. To enhance the experience and enjoyment of the training the application of Dosan tul techniques was performed in an acting/entertaining fashion.
On completion of the training the group moved to a vegetarian buffet style restaurant which provided a variety of side dishes and soybean dishes that were surprisingly tasty.
After dinner, the group made the journey to the Taekwondowon in Muju where we planned to rest before the next full day of activities at the park, but during the trip Master Kruk conducted a quiz that summarized the knowledge about Dosan his life and activity. It was pleasantly surprising and rewarding to see how much information about Dosan was absorbed by the tultourers in such a short period of time. This reflects the educational value of the program that helps the practitioners to better understand the meaning of the patterns when they practice them in the locations closely associated with them.
Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 3 (16-Nov-2016)
Today, most of the day was spent in Muju at the Taekwondowon but even so it was felt that it would have been possible to spend at least another day to be fully satisfied with what the park had to offer. The day started with breakfast being delivered to our accommodation so the participants did not even have to leave their building to walk to the cafeteria for their meal.
After breakfast all participants gathered in the gymnasium to prepare for a 2h “Taekwondo aerobic program” however to fill in time before the arrival of the instructors Master Kruk worked with the tultourers on Hwarang tul, correcting details and explaining technical applications. Then the 2 Korean female instructors arrived and took the team through warm ups and introduced Taekwondo dance routines that were enjoyed immensely by the boys and girls. It took over an hour to learn the moves and coordinate them with both teams at the end performing their routines and receiving bonus points for their TT team competition.
On conclusion of the active program and some refreshment the participants visited the museum where they viewed the portrait of General Choi. Discussions ensued about the recognition of General Choi with Mr Razak, the leader of the Malaysian group who has been involved in Taekwon-Do in Malaysia for a very long time pointing out, that even in Malaysia the WTF instructors and Masters regard Gen. Choi as the founder of Taekwon-Do since they use the oath and the tenets created by the General and recite them at the beginning of every training session. It was felt that it is very disappointing that the some members of ITF family have presented a weak stance on this issue by applauding the recognition of Gen Choi in Muju Park Museum only as the Taekwon-Do name giver.
The time in the museum passed quickly and after some quick shopping in the souvenir shop everybody had lunch and the entire team enjoyed a spectacle performed by the Taekwondowon team. It was very exciting and following the demonstration the participants were able to take pictures with the performers and congratulate them on a excellent and skillful performance.
The afternoon fortunately warmed up, making it easier to cope with the cold November weather in Korea since the Malaysians members are rarely exposed to cold weather in their home country. We then traveled to Gyeongju, and after settling in the hotel and having dinner we moved to Anapchi where the participants admired the beautiful architecture of the location which is a former Hwarang warrior training ground.
anapchi1The group walked around Anapchi pond enjoying the serenity of the location with the small number of visitors at this time of year creating a very relaxing atmosphere. Once time was taken to create these memories we began our revision and practice of Hwarang Tul supervised by Master Kruk. The training concluded after an hour or so and because of the chilly evening the participants were encouraged to wear their TT warm jackets that were presented to them by the organizers. Everybody returned to the hotel at 10pm and relaxed before another busy day ahead. anapchi2

Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 4 (17-Nov-2016)
Today was spent almost entirely in the province of Gyeongju. The weather was very nice and we departed the hotel to the Bulguksa temple that is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and encompasses seven National treasures of South Korea.
The beautiful scenery around the temple, fantastic autumn colors and peaceful atmosphere created a desire to spend more time there than initially planned.
We started our visit by posing for pictures. Since the entire area relates to the Korean monk Wonhyo, the poses and techniques used related to this pattern.
At 10am a professional guide provided a tour for our members to present the beauty of the temple that has been recognized as a UNESCO site.
On leaving the Bulguksa temple we paid a short visit to tomb of Moon moo that is located on the eastern sea. We managed to take pictures and relax a little by the sea.
Our next destination was Golgulsa Temple. We arrived there at mid-day and experienced a temple style lunch. Since it was vegetarian and not heavy we were able to move directly to the temple training hall and start work on Wonhyo tul. The Golgulsa temple is also associated with the monk Wonhyo who dedicated his life to spread Buddhism among the common people during the Silla dynasty.
After an hour and a half practicing, the training continued but this time it was conducted by a monk who introduced the basics of the temple martial art called Sun Moo Do. Our tultourers were taken through step by step instruction on how to perform the first Sun Moo Do pattern.
The program concluded late in the afternoon with the tultourers enjoying a demonstration performed by the monks and being given the opportunity to perform Wonhyo tul as a part of the Sun Moo Do demo.

We then headed back to Daejeon where we had dinner in a sushi buffet restaurant and after settling into the hotel we walked to the nearby foot spa amphitheater where Master Zibby Kruk entertained the participants by playing guitar and harmonica and singing songs. The participants joined in and sang some popular songs as well. Following this entertaining evening everyne visited the office of ITF HQ Korea for coffee and discussions with some individuals purchasing new doboks so they could have fresh uniforms for the next day for training.

Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 5 (18-Nov-2016)
The day started with travel to Hyeonchungsa – Admiral Yi Sun Sin’s shrine. On arrival we visited the museum and watched a 4 D video about the Admiral and his battles. Then we moved to the top of the hill to visit the Yi Sun Sin shrine and practice Choong Moo tul in this beautiful setting with autumn colors. The lower ranked students who did not know the pattern were taken by Mr Razak (a 6th Degree Malaysian instructor and the team leader) and practiced fundamental techniques and elements of other patterns. The training lasted for an hour and a half after which we moved to Seoul for a late lunch. We decided on Indian cuisine and enjoyed spicy delicious food in Insadong.
After the late lunch we moved to a shrine dedicated to Dangun that was located near Gwanghwamun Square. The group focused for over an hour on practicing this pattern. Master Kruk challenged practitioners with different performance styles, such as orientation, speed, or adding kicking techniques. It was pleasant to see the students enjoying their training and showed their technical progress. Fortunately, the students also were greeted by Mr Lee Gun Bong, who is the director of Center, who was kind enough to present the participants with souvenirs of their visit.
It was after 6pm before the group moved to the hotel located in the heart of Seoul and enjoyed dinner delivered by a halal food company. Immediately after dinner we met all the participants in the hotel conference centre and concluded the program. Participants received their tul tour certificates and some also received Dan certificates as they had completed their Dan tests. Mr Hafidz, a 4 Degree Black Belt from Malaysia who was a coordinator of the “Malaysia Inspired” program, was appointed as the Islamic Tul Tour Director and his role will be to coordinate further programs that will be offered specifically for Muslim participants. There are specific religious requirements that need to be observed and fulfilled so it is very important that the TT team closely cooperate with experts who can not only promote the program to Muslim practitioners but also serve as professional advisers.
The evening was designated for souvenir shopping and relaxation. Day 6 is the last practical training day and will cover the remaining 3 color belt patterns.

Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 6 (19-Nov-2016)
I am not sure how many of you are aware about the current difficulty of the political situation in Korea due to presidential problems, this definitely had an impact on this tul tour program. Political demonstrations in Seoul and other Korean cities caused closure of many main roads and places and had the organisers not addressed these issues properly it could have meant that the tt participants could have been stuck for an entire day in a traffic jam.
As always tt organizers take these things into consideration and prepare a backup plan.
In order to avoid any difficulties we moved to the Ahn Joon Gun Memorial Hall first thing in the morning.
received_1205717226154866We toured around the museum admiring the documents, calligraphy work, learning about this brave independent movement activist and took group photos. Then we spent an hour or so working on the details of Joon Gun tul in front of the Ahn Joon Gun monument.
received_1205716919488230Many locals and tourists stopped to watch our training and take pictures. It was great promotion for Taekwon-Do ITF in its homeland. Master Kruk covered many nuances and technical aspects associated with this pattern. As you leave the park there is also a statue of Yi Hwang (Toi Gye) and we took the opportunity to take a few group pictures in front of the statute since we did not plan to visit another location associated with this scholar.
This was just the right time to leave Seoul as demonstrators had only just started gathering on the streets and police were only beginning to close the roads.
We then moved to “Paju” which is a city that Yul gok had a significant presence in the 16th century. He worked there during his adult time and passed away there too.
Upon arrival at the site we had a picnic style lunch at Yulgok park and watched a movie that presented Yulgok’s life and achievements.
Being armed with this new knowledge we walked in the amazing scenery to visit his tomb which is located in the Park. It was the first time that TT members have visited the Yulgok tomb. This time of the year the surrounding area is so colorful and beautiful and because there are not many visitors it is very peaceful as well.
After taking some group pictures we returned to the two large monuments of Yulgok and his mother Shin Saimdang (who is a great figure in Korean history as well) located at the entrance of the park and began Yulgok tul training that was conducted by Master Zibby Kruk.
The participants were able to practice the elements of the pattern for nearly two hours, receiving individual correction and because it was the last practical session Master Kruk provided a summary for each member on what they have to work on. Master Kruk pointed out and personally checked whether students remembered what they had to focus on during their training while back in Malaysia. Also head instructors, Mr Razak and Mr Hafidz had an extended conversation with Master Kruk about future training.
After training, student’s spent some time on their prayer and then moved to a guest house in Incheon located close to the airport. After dinner and making sure that our guests were set for the next days travel home,the organizers farewelled the tultourers and departed to Daejeon.
Our Malaysian guests expressed their appreciation for what they were able to experience and we look forward to meeting again in 2017.

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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.

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.

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.
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.
While the non-kicking leg flexibility can make a kicker look good, it’s the core and kicking leg flexibility that really counts.
• 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.
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.
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.

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 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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The Best Sport for Autism and Other Mental Disabilities

Diagnosed with shingles days after I had won first place at the 2013 USA National Taekwondo Competition (1), I, at the peak of my athleticism, was forced to let go of everything I had trained for since the age of five. For three months, I could not train at the dojo or at home because I was bed-ridden and contagious. After a long summer of recovery, I was able to train again, but I quickly realized that I would never be able to fully regain cardiovascular and respiratory capabilities with time.
This illness helped me appreciate taekwondo beyond the glamorous gold medals. Shingles led me to a route that has fulfilled me in a way I had not anticipated – sharing my skills to help the mentally disabled in my community.

A few days after being informed that students at an institution for the mentally disabled suffered with obesity and other health issues, my sister and I started a taekwondo program. Our class was the first organized athletic program at the institution, American Wheat Mission, but I initially did not care much for it. I was focused on training to return to competing at the highest level as soon as I could, and I agreed to teach the students at the institution once a week only because I wanted to be a good citizen. I thought leading a class couldn’t be too hard, given the experience under my belt, my taekwondo belt, that is. However, I quickly realized that teaching 20 students with mental disabilities and their assigned aides would be no small feat. The students ranged from age 7 to 30, some even over twice my age at the time, and when I first stepped into the room to greet my new class, even introducing myself was a challenge. One student was jumping, another was yelling, another running, the list goes on.

After my sister left for college, I singlehandedly directed the class that had grown to 30 students. In the beginning, I was convinced that the students would not be able to master basic motions. Most of the students were inattentive to basic instructions because of their extreme placement on the autism spectrum, and the rest of the students refused to engage as a result of their Down syndrome. The few individuals who did try could not manage even lifting one leg without falling. Their strongest attempt to break a board was knocking it as if it were a door. However, I refused to give up. I started an additional intensive class, and I spent time outside of class planning long-term goals tailored to each student, choreographing creative taekwondances, and preparing class curricula. And the students did, in fact, improve. Now, in my intensive class, every student completes each stretch, drill, and activity. They maintain silence during meditation and can perform 50 consecutive kicks at waist height. They have perfected both the hammerpunch and the elbow strike to the extent that they can break boards without my assistance. I was not the only one pleasantly surprised by the students’ progress; the students themselves and their parents were astounded by the improvement.

While I was overjoyed to see my students reap benefits from practicing taekwondo, I did not realize until this year that taekwondo specifically is one of the best sports for those with mental disabilities. Contrary to popular belief, only 58 of every 1000 taekwondo students suffer a serious injury, and there is no statistical correlation between martial arts and violence. Surprisingly enough, I found that taekwondo is not only one of the best sports, but one of the best activities for comprehensive improvement in individuals with cognitive impairments.

Neurologists, psychologists and other medical professionals highly recommend taekwondo for autistic children’s healthy lifestyle choices that lead to psychological and physical development. Sports such as taekwondo, as Dr. Fred Volkmar, head of the Yale Child Study Center, puts it, “are very ritualized and predictable, so those sports are good for kids with autism.” Autistic children exhibit behaviors where the same word, phrase or movement is repeated in an almost obsessive pattern, so one might initially think that a child on the autism spectrum should avoid doing repetitive physical skill training, such as taekwondo, and yet scientific studies increasingly prove otherwise, as repetitive practice is the foundation of skilled learning, especially for taekwondo.

The focus demanded from taekwondo can be especially helpful as a supplemental activity for children with autism. According to Erin Carson, a writer for the Livestrong Foundation, martial arts “can turn on a child’s attention system – consisting of the cerebellum, frontal cortex and limbic system – which can affect the parts of the brain responsible for sequencing, prioritizing, working memory and sustaining attention.” Furthermore, exercise increases the brain’s dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. “These chemicals in the brain positively affect the attention system’s ability to stay regular and consistent, which can increase alertness.”

Through taekwondo, the mind develops fundamental habits such as self-discipline. By controlling the autonomic nervous system (fight or rest) while staying in tune with emotions, one also develops willpower. This discipline enables the athlete to not only persist through strenuous training, but also train him/herself in character and performance on and off the training mat. Not to mention, it builds a habit in setting and meeting goals; taekwondo requires memorization of specific forms, and belt promotion is earned by correctly executing the form. In addition, the intense dedication one must exhibit for proficient results in taekwondo builds concentration. In practicing taekwondo, students train their brain to focus, a skill that benefits in learning in other disciplines. Other mental benefits include improved memory capacity, enhanced cognitive functions such as determining right from left, and a heightened self-esteem. Since the structure of taekwondo is based on measurable goals such as breaking boards, winning matches, and being promoted in belt, students have specific figures to point to when taking pride in their feats.JO_16_0129-149-2587

The brain is not the only muscle exercised, as taekwondo also offers various physical benefits. Young people with autism have been statistically prone to obesity. As of 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that autistic children are two times more likely to be obese than children without autism, and approximately 32% of autistic children are “severely overweight.” Taekwondo is one of the most efficient sports to tackle weight problems, labeled the “best martial arts for weight loss.” The Federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion listed the sport as a rigorous activity, and it is one of the top calorie burning cardiovascular workouts. A person of 160 pounds typically burns 752 calories in 60 minutes of training in taekwondo. For a comparative analysis, a person of 160 pounds typically burns 292 calories in 60 minutes of playing volleyball. Taekwondo is especially fitting for autistic children; the CDC reported differences in weight in those with autism than in those without as early as in ages two to five years, and taekwondo is a sport than can and usually is practiced from a young age. Before taught and pressured about health and exercise, children become familiar with an enjoyable schedule that includes beneficial.

A second physical benefit of taekwondo is its ability to alleviate sleep problems, which are reportedly as high as 80% in autistic children. Recent research demonstrates that poor autistic sleepers exhibit more problematic behavior than good sleepers, as sleep problems and insufficient sleep can result in daytime sleepiness, learning problems and behavioral issues such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness and aggression. The most common sleep problems in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are difficulty falling asleep and repeated awakenings during the night. Professionals such as Dr. Paul Loprinzi and Dr. Bradley J. Cardinal in addition to other sources of mounting scientific evidence conclude that the more people exercise, the more people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day. Not to mention, according to Dr. Michael J. Breus, a Clinical Psychologist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, exercise also helps keep body clocks in line with sleep and wake times.

A third physical benefit of taekwondo is the development of important physical habits. Taekwondo nurtures good posture. Today, 3 in every 100 people have scoliosis, including those already diagnosed with mental disabilities. Taekwondo nurtures good posture since every stance and motion requires a straight back. Taekwondo also fosters full and healthy use of the lungs. During a period of meditation, students teach themselves to breathe deeply, allowing oxygen to fill the lower and middle parts of the lungs. During fast-paced drills, students learn to breathe quickly, allowing oxygen to fill the upper portion of the lungs. In taekwondo, breathing engages all parts of the lungs. Though unnoticed, “the way one breathes,” reports Jamie Licauco, writer for Inquirer Lifestyle, “can have either a salutary or deleterious effect on one’s health and well-being.”

A fourth benefit of taekwondo is the development of numerous skills. There are three main events in taekwondo: sparring, form, and breaking. Since most dojangs, institutions where taekwondo is practiced, have inclusive curriculums including all three events, taekwondo enhances a variety of physical skills in trainees, stretching the body’s capabilities in speed, accuracy, strength, flexibility and coordination. Sparring students develop agility and sharp reflexes, quickly evading and countering a kick. Form students develop accuracy and balance, refining their technique by performing choreographed routines. Breaking students develop strength and timing, breaking wooden boards of varying thickness and in different ways. All taekwondo students develop flexibility and coordination.

Autism is becoming increasingly prevalent. According to estimates from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network of Centers of Disease Control (CDC) 2014 report, the number of children identified with ASD varied widely by community, from 1 in 175 children in areas of Alabama to 1 in 45 children in areas of New Jersey. Nevertheless, in the same report, 1 in 68 children in America was identified with ASD. This new estimate is roughly 30% higher than the estimate for 2008 (1 in 88), 60% higher than the estimate for 2006 (1 in 110), and 120% higher than the estimates for 2000 and 2002 (1 in 150). Taekwondo dojangs have also become more ubiquitous and hence more accessible to this increasing population. For those interested in competing, taekwondo is also emerging like no other sport, as one of the two martial arts hosted in the Olympics and in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Whether students train for fun or train to compete, taekwondo’s nature of mutual teamwork and individuality is perfect for autistic students, for students train together and build each other yet perform independently.
My four students who have recently passed their first promotion test to white-yellow belt are working everyday to tie the belt, which represents taekwondo’s central motive. The inner layer of the belt around the waist is representative of the human inner mind, the outer layer is representative of the human physical body, and the tying the two forms a diamond-shaped knot; the balanced collaboration of the mind and body creates a strong and indestructible human like the diamond, an unbreakable crystal. By unifying the mind and body, taekwondo offers both psychological and physical benefits.

(1) Taekwondo is professionally spelt as one word, but the term is also informally spelt as tae kwon do.
(2) Pieter, W. “Injury Rates in Children Participating in Taekwondo Competition.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. July 1, 1997.
(3) Goehner, Amy Lennard. “What to Ask About Autism.” New York Times. April 13, 2011.
(4) Carson, Erin. “How Does Karate Help Kids With ADHD?” LIVESTRONG.COM. August 16, 2013.
(5) Harle, Wade. “Taekwondo Speed Training.” LIVESTRONG.COM. October 21, 2013.
(6) Lakes, Kimberley D., and William T. Hoyt. “Promoting Self-regulation Through School-based Martial Arts Training.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 25, no. 3, 283-302.
(7) “Key Findings: Prevalence and Impact of Unhealthy Weight in a National Sample of US Adolescents with Autism and Other Learning and Behavioral Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 18, 2014.
(8) Wayne, Jake. “The Best Martial Arts for Weight Loss.” LIVESTRONG.COM. January 30, 2014.
(9) Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Be Active Your Way: A Fact Sheet for Adults.” Be Active Your Way: A Fact Sheet for Adults. November 6, 2014.
(10) Dunham, Deborah. “What Cardio Workout Burns the Most Calories?” LIVESTRONG.COM. October 21, 2013.
(11) Mayo Clinic Staff. “Weight Loss.” Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour. December 1, 2011.
(12) Lamm, Carin. “Sleep and the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).” Autism Speaks. N.d.
(13) Loprinzi, Paul D., and Bradley J. Cardinal. “Association between Objectively-measured Physical Activity and Sleep, NHANES 2005-2006.” Mental Health and Physical Activity. 2011.
(14) Breus, Michael J. “Does Your Teen Sleep Like a Zombie? There’s a Reason for That.” Huffington Post. December 1, 2012.
(15) Shah, Suken. “Scoliosis.” KidsHealth – the Web’s Most Visited Site about Children’s Health. January 1, 2013.
(16) Licauco, Jamie. “Is There a Healthy Way of Breathing?” Inquirer Lifestyle. October 14, 2014.
(17) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. 2014.

Christina Cho Profile1 pic Christina H. Cho is a certified fourth degree black belt master by Kukkiwon with twelve years of experience. Since 2006, she has been top-ranked at the USA Taekwondo New York State Championship and the USA Taekwondo New Jersey State Championship in events including individual poomsae, partner poomsae, team poomsae, breaking, and sparring. At the 2013 USA National Taekwondo Championship, she won first place in female partner poomsae and fourth place in individual breaking. She has been an authorized referee for the Pan American Taekwondo Association since 2010, the youngest member of the Tri-State Officials Certified Taekwondo Referees Corp since 2013, and the master of the taekwondo program for students with mental disabilities at The American Wheat Mission since 2013.

Christina thanks her family for their unconditional love and support in her taekwondo journey as well as her adviser Ms. Stanford for her help in writing this article.

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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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