I often hear the argument that high kicks are impractical and don’t work. I say, kicking high and going for the head is only impractical if you don’t possess the skill to pull it off… and not everybody does.
If a person hasn’t got the flexibility, strength, balance and technique, then of course that person will not be able to pull it off successfully. Lack of training kicking high will result in not being able to kick high. We become proficient and skilled at what we train. Just because a particular person does not possess the ability to pull off a technique, such as a high kick, does not mean others can’t. Often people, who cannot do, feel the need to break down and diminish what others can do. They try to justify themselves by convincing themselves that they are right due to their inadequacies.
“It isn’t natural to our bodies to kick high”, “It is bio-mechanically incorrect”, “You are off balance with your leg up there”, “It’s too slow”, blah, blah, blah.
If we wanted to be able to do things only natural to our bodies’, we wouldn’t need to train. We could just sit around like lazy slobs and be comfortable with only being able to lift our legs to hip height. I don’t believe in working with what I’ve got. I believe in creating a way to achieve what I haven’t got. We have to be able to make what is unnatural to many the natural to us. This comes through training.
With training we change our bodies – they become flexible, strong and balanced – with training, our bio-mechanics become enhanced. Instead of being average-Joe’s, we utilize our bodies’ mechanics to their full extent, their full range of motion instead of to our perceived limits. It is only difficult to envision kicking high with speed, power and balance if you have shut your mind to the notion of it. This is often caused by a bad mindset being instilled by yourself or others (i.e. instructor/coach), and this, in turn, leads to a lack of training in that that particular skill.
The key reason why many are against kicking high is a lack of confidence. Like with anything else, the more you practice and train to do something, the more familiar you become with the skill. The more familiar you are with it, the more confidence you will have in that particular skill. Whether it is head kicks, low kicks, punches or any other technique – if it is thrown without confidence it will not work. There must be total belief that your technique will work. If there is total belief, and intent behind what you are doing, then it will work. But, like I said, to have belief, one must have confidence. And confidence comes from practice and training.
A person who has trained to be able to kick high will generally have more flexibility, agility, versatility and balance than a person who has not. The training involved for high kicks can and should improve your entire martial arts game, whether for striking or grappling.
Those who say head kicks are too slow are just kidding themselves. High kicks can be extremely quick if practiced correctly. Again it boils to time spent practicing and training. Any technique practiced enough can be effective given the right circumstance. That said, more important than the speed of a kick is the timing of it. Whether hand or foot, speed becomes irrelevant if it is thrown at the wrong time. Even people with slower techniques can make them useful and effective if they know when to throw them.
People who insult high kickers often go on about how ineffective it is. For the given situation, you want to use the appropriate attacking tool for the correct vital spot. Just because a person can kick high doesn’t mean that he is going to randomly be throwing high kicks and hope that something hits. A technique is only thrown when it is relevant to the situation, be it hand or foot. If a situation calls for a high kick, then throw a high kick. If it calls for a punch, throw a punch. If it calls for a low kick, do it. Much to some peoples disbelief and dismay, people who can kick high can also kick low, or any range in between. A person who can strike and grapple is more versatile than a person who can do only one or the other. Likewise, a person who is able to kick high is more versatile than those who are only able to kick low.
Besides all else, when it comes to any physical ability, I’d rather be able to do it, than not. Sometimes practicality is not what is important. Sometimes it is about challenging yourself and having fun. Kicking high is fun. Jumping kicks are fun. There has to be a bit of light-hearted enjoyment in what we do, too.
If we work only to what our bodies can do, then there would be no need to train. Just because the average person can’t kick above there waist doesn’t mean we should accept that it can’t be done, or that it isn’t effective. With training it is made to be effective. If we did only what was deemed “natural” to our bodies, as human beings we would not have accomplished much. We would be just like any other animal in the zoo.
Be content with your own training. You obviously took up the fighting style you do because something about it drew you to it. Just because your style does things a particular doesn’t mean that other styles are wrong. Gain confidence in what you do, believe what you believe, and don’t criticize others. Critics are people who are actually trying to convince themselves that they are right. They are not truly confident in what they do – there is a seed of doubt. The more people they convince into believe their nonsense, the better they feel about the junk that they perform – they gain the wrong type of confidence by having company. Swimming in a cesspool with a bunch of other weak minded “wannabe’s” and convincing yourselves that it is better than swimming in a fresh mountain spring is typical of this sort. They are normally below average specimens who are jealous of those who can perform what they cannot. People who are confident in what they do have no need to insult or convince others that they are correct, they simply get on with their lives.
Every person has a degree of ability. Some people’s abilities outweigh those of others in some respects. This could be due to genes, physical disability or (most often) mindset and heart. As martial artists, we train our bodies to do things that the average person cannot. We stretch and strengthen our muscles in order to better perform the movements we intend to use. We practice and repeat movements to achieve grace, fluidity, speed and power – always in the search for perfection. We practice to be able to utilize these movements in our training, in the ring, and most importantly, on the street. Just because your body or mind does not allow you to perform certain techniques, don’t think that the same applies to others. There are many techniques that I cannot perform, but it doesn’t mean that I will allow my own restrictions/lack of interest to influence others.
So to all of the high kickers out there, don’t believe the “Kick high, you die” theory. It is made up by those who are inadequate in that sphere. Don’t let others’ limits influence yours.