In fighting, it is best to keep the feet connected with the ground the entire time.
The feet serve as the fulcrums by which the centre levers us around.. to move around between opponents or in dealing with one opponent the feet must connect with the ground. The stability of our structure also is much enhanced with having two feet on the ground or very close to it, able to connect and be rooted in an instant. Hence, kicking is inadvisable.
Having said that, there are some excellent kicks in VTK, and all specialised to suit a particular situation or purpose. We don’t know beforehand what a fight situation will present us with, so we train for all eventualities.
Our kicks are often used in response to the opponent’s kick, to disrupt their motion or damage the kicking leg, or to attack their standing leg.
We have three main kicks in our chum kiu form, the front kick with the heel, the snap kick with the knife edge of the foot, and the turning side kick. They are all trained and developed further in the dummy forms. Most of the kicks are used to strike the opponent’s knee, and this is how we train those kicks in the dummy forms. We need to program our neuromuscular system for the actions required, not some vague approximation which uses a completely different set of nerves and muscle fibres or even a different muscle group altogether. What we program in is what will happen in the fight when there is no time to consciously drastically modify the movements. There’s a perfectly good knee on the dummy, so we kick that.
In the chum kiu form we train these kicks at hip height, so they may be used this way if the situation demands, eg if the opponent is good with their arms a kick can be used to distract or open them up and create an opportunity to finish with the arms. Sometimes our kicks are aimed to the groin or the inside of the thigh, usually while the opponent is launching their own kick.
The final kick in chum kiu is a turning side kick done behind. It requires a heel pivot to turn the right foot on the ground through 90deg while the kick is being executed. The body turns with the pivot and the leg drives the foot in a straight line to the chest height. The knee bends early in the movement to achieve this, and straightens at the end of the movement. The purpose of this kick is to deal with an opponent who may be approaching from behind, while we are busy with other opponents. The kick rises up very suddenly and seeing this the opponent may well stop.. thus we have bought our time. The kick may land on their chest, which will also stop them. They will feel as though they ran into the branch of a tree. Because the foot is traveling on a straight line up and behind, it doesn’t matter where it makes contact on the opponent, eg their shin, knee, groin, belly or chest. The objective is to stop them for a split second, buying us time to avoid being hit and move to finish both or all opponents. It is not a demolition kick. There is a danger they may grab our foot, and the following movement in the form is to use our shifting to pull the foot back towards us and down. This movement has surprising force, and will either pull the foot out of their grip or pull them off balance towards us and place their head in a very opportune position for us to strike.
The ascending heel kick is a demolition kick, especially when landed on the inside of their knee, or the outside for that matter.
The snap kick with the knife edge of the foot is also a demolition kick, designed to break the knee in a particular circumstance.
The ascending heel kick is practiced in a number of ways, with various arm combinations and with turning &/or sinking actions.
Another side kick driving with the heel is also practiced in the 4th section of the dummy forms. This kick must be done to the knee height because in the circumstance it is used, the knee is the only viable target. We must train it this way, at knee height for it to be successful in a fight, so we kick the dummy leg at the knee point.
For the ascending heel kick, executed with the front foot, we point the back foot towards the target. The back foot should always be pointed at the target anyway, whenever possible. This greatly enhances the structure of the core and increases power in the kick. It also allows the kick to redirect very effectively. In the chum kiu form, when we turn to perform this kick, we turn through the complete angle to face the direction of the kick properly. In the fight it is unlikely we will need to turn and kick like this. It is the principle of overtraining, so common throughout VTK.. make it difficult in the training so it will be easy in the fight.
The snap kick requires a toe pivot on the back foot to drive the kicking foot further and with more power. We assume that we are facing the opponent before launching the kick.
The turning side kick to the knee, performed with a quan sau action to deal with an opponents round kick, also requires a toe pivot to lauch the kick effectively. The pivot also serves to drive the quan with power to the angle.
This is quite obviously not the same kick as at the end of the chum kiu form.
Each of these three kicks we train to the knee on the dummy leg, so that they will work in a fight. What we put in is what comes out.
The pivot helps to drive the power of the snap kick and the side kick, and to face the centre of the incoming force ie the shin and the instep of the foot respectively.
Which kick is used is dependent on the range. The best response to an opponent’s round kick is to move in and punch them, but we cannot always achieve this.
If the kick is almost about to land on our head, we only have time to turn with an aggressive quan sau and simultaneously kick their back knee. May as well, it takes no extra time!
If we have had a little more time to respond and move in, we will be taking their shin with an absorbing quan sau and the snap kick reaches their knee nicely. The pivot is less in this instance to facilitate the quan going more forward, to drive the snap kick also requires minimal pivot and also so that our facing is not lost so much, considering we are getting in closer range now.
The final instance is when we have been able to respond by moving in almost to punching range but still need to deal with the kick first, in which case we keep our facing ie no pivot, use the high gan sau to intercept the kick just up their leg from the knee and use the ascending heel kick to take out their vulnerable back leg.
If we can respond sooner and move in any further than this we simply hit them. This will ruin their kick anyway.
We train all these three ranges on the dummy so the appropriate kick will automatically launch, and in the air dummy so they will be delivered with power and in timing with the appropriate arm movements.
A great benefit of our kicking training is to improve our structure and the strength in the core, which directly benefits our stance and movement.
In fighting, it’s best to keep the feet on the ground, so we kick only when necessary. Of course in such a situation we are relying on our kick to work, hence we put a lot of work into our kicks.
There is nothing in the system that is there for nothing. It all requires constant work to maintain and improve.