How to Strengthen your Kicks for Martial Arts

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I'm going to show you a kicking drill that is great for your legs.  This will give you more powerful kicks, higher kicks, faster kicks, and better balance.  All of which are essential for a well-rounded martial artist.

This drill doesn't take very long to do; and could even be done right when you wake up or right before you go to bed.  It really doesn't matter when you do this exercise; just make sure you are doing it every day.

For this exercise, you are going to be going through a series of slow kicks with each leg.  You will do one leg and then the other.  Make sure to follow proper form on all of the kicks.

Each kick routine will be going through a series of steps.  There will be a starting position and an extended position.  The motion from starting to the extended position should be done very slowly.

While performing these kick routines, keep your guard up so you are always ready to defend yourself.  This is a good idea when practicing any martial arts drills or movements.

Proper form is essential to allowing this exercise give you the greatest benefits.  Make sure you are following all the tips in the steps listed below.

If you find yourself losing your balance, find a wall or a staff to help you keep your balance.  Do not lean on the wall or staff as that will be counter productive and not allow you to get the full benefits from these exercises.

If you would like more instruction on martial arts, check out these  martial arts tutorials.

Step 1:  Front Kick

  • You will start by bringing your knee up as high as you can in front of you.
  • Hold this position for a slow count of five seconds (one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, etc).
  • After you are done holding this position, start to slowly extend your leg while keeping your knee in the same position.
    • While extending your leg, try to keep your knee in the same position.  This will give you the most strain on your quads.
  • The full extension of your leg won’t occur until after another slow five second count.
  • Hold your leg straight out and in a fully extended front kick for another slow five second count.
  • After you are done holding your kick, bring it back to your starting position in another slow five second count.

Step 2:  Side Kick

  • You should already have your knee up as high as you can in front of you from step 1.
  • Hold this position for a slow count of five seconds.
  • Start to extend your leg to the side into a side-kick for a slow count of five seconds.
    • Make sure to keep your kicking foot parallel to the ground.
    • Do NOT stick out your butt to perform the side kick in order to get more height.  
    • Make sure to keep your upper body straight over your pivot foot; do NOT lean for the kick.
    • Use only your leg muscles to raise the height of your kick.  
    • From your head, through your shoulders, and to your heal of your pivot foot, there should be a straight line.  Make sure your kick is also in this straight line.  If you are not sure, watch yourself in the mirror to make sure your entire body is in line.
      • Another way to ensure you have this form is to put your butt and shoulders up against a wall and perform the kick perpendicular to the wall.  This will keep you inline with the wall.
    • When you are extending your leg, make sure your heal is following the line of your body; as your heal is what you will be striking with for your side kick.
    • You will most likely not be able to kick very high; do not worry about this as you are strengthening your legs.  The most important thing is proper form; this will let you get the most out of this exercise.
  • Hold your side kick out for a slow five second count.
  • Slowly bring your kick back in the same path it went out on for another slow five second count.

Step 3:  Back Kick

  • You should already have your knee up as high as you can in front of you from step 2.
  • Hold this position for a slow count of five seconds.
  • Slowly extend your leg behind you into a back kick position for a slow count of five seconds.
  • Hold your back kick for a slow five second count.
    • Your leg should be fully extended and straight with your heel pointing up and your toes down.
    • You will really feel this in your butt and lower back.  
    • Try to keep your kick up as high as you can without leaning much.  You will have to lean a little to fully extend your leg.
  • Slowly bring your kick back in the same path it went out on for another slow five second count.

Step 4:  Roundhouse Kick

  • You should already have your knee up as high as you can in front of you from step 3.
    • An alternate way to start this is to move your kicking leg to the side of your body.  This will allow you to pivot around and have more of a circular motion.  I would recommend practicing both starting positions.
    • With the starting position in front of you, this will conceal your kick more to your opponent as it will look just like a front kick.
  • Hold this position for a slow count of five seconds.
  • You are going to slowly pivot on your pivot foot 180 degrees while slowly performing a roundhouse kick.
    • Make sure to keep your knee up as you did in your front kick.
    • After your pivot foot is done moving, the heel should be pointing towards your target.
    • While you are pivoting, your hips will naturally pivot which will allow your leg to extend into a roundhouse.
  • Hold your roundhouse kick for a slow five second count.
    • When you strike with your roundhouse, practice using the ball of your foot.  Then make sure your foot is perpendicular to the floor.
  • Slowly bring your kick back in the same path it went out on for another slow five second count.

All in One

Now let's bring all these steps together.  This will give you a better feel for how the whole drill will come together.

Method 1:

One way to perform this exercise is to run through all 4 steps on one leg and then alternating legs.  Perform this whole sequence at least 3 times (3 sets).  You may want to try it this way until you get all the steps down and can balance yourself more easily through them all on one leg.

Method 2:

Once you feel comfortable with method 1, it's time to add more repetitions to each step.  This time, you will perform each step a minimum of 5 times before moving to the next step.  Perform all four steps on one leg before moving to the next leg.  Perform this whole sequence at least 3 times (3 sets).

Conclusion

Do not rush through your kicks.  Make sure to use the full count for the extension and retraction of your kicks.

When you are going through these exercises, try not to let your kicking leg touch the ground until you are ready to move onto the next leg.  This will improve your balance very quickly so you'll be able to go through all of the steps without falling.

For better results, make sure you are doing a proper warm-up before starting this drill.  After you are done with your workout, you should be stretching out your body to loosen up your muscles.

You should start seeing better results in your kicks very quickly if you are following these drills.

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