THE ART OF STRETCHING!
“The Discipline of Stretching… Stretching for Technique”
Excerpts from Mr. Davis’ Official IKF Kickboxing Training Manual.
Preparing your muscles for the strenuous kicks and exercises that Kick Boxers endure is no easy task. However, one of the most important things one can do to prevent unnecessary injury is properly stretch his or her muscles. Stretching comes very easy for some and very difficult for others. I was one of those people that stretching did not come easy for. I clearly remember a period when it was Difficult for me to touch my toes. I quickly realized that I wasn’t inherited with the “natural stretch,” I had to work extra hard at it. In the beginning stages of my Karate training, my instructors put me on an extensive stretching program. I increased that program to one even more rigorous. A good stretching program should be done at least five days a week ( if not every day) and three times a workout . The results were rewarding for me. More flexibility increased my power, speed and focus. Here is a portion of my stretching routine that provided me with the flexibility I enjoy today.
General Stretching Tips:
* Stretch at least five days a week, if not everyday.
* You should hold stretches, not bounce or jerk.
* Do each stretch with an eight or ten count. This will give you consistency in your routine.
* You should hold until the stretch is slightly uncomfortable. You should not feel a burning sensation.
* Stretch before, during and after each workout.
* Neck and Spine should remain aligned in most if not all of your stretching.
1. Standing head to knee stretch. (A) Standing with feet together toes even- bend forward and grab ankles with both hands, pull chest toward knee until slightly uncomfortable. (Remember to keep neck aligned with spine.) (B) Hold this position with a ten count. Release and repeat.
2. Cross leg stretch: (A) Standing, cross right foot over left, keep toes even. (B) bend forward and grab both ankles hold with ten count.
2b. Hip rotation: Legs should be approx. two shoulders widths apart. Feet flat on floor and pointing forward. Hands on hips. Push hip to right and in full circle, repeat on opposite side. Note: you should feel this stretch in the hips and inner thighs.
3. Straddle Stretch (A) Spread legs approximately two to 2 1/2 shoulders widths part, keep toes even. (B) Bend towards leg- grab ankle (C) Head to knee hold and ten count.(D) Repeat with opposite leg. (E) Grab both ankles and pull to center ( neck and spine straight.)
4. Side Stretch (A) Repeat Ill. A in frame 1. ( B) Right foot at 45 degree angle and bend knee towards direction of foot.(C) Bend your upper body back towards the extended leg. Note: You should feel this stretch in your inner thigh area. This is a great stretch for the side kick.
5. Side Heel (A) Repeat Ill. A in frame 1. (B) Turn left foot on heel – point toes upward. (C) squat in sitting position, putting most of your weight on right leg. (D) Repeat with opposite leg. Remember to keep extended leg straight. note: This is a great stretch for muscles used for the front kick.
6. Side Toe(A) Repeat Ill. A in frame 1 (B) Turn left foot on toes – heel upward. (C) Bend right leg, slightly lean forward, tilt upper body back slightly.(D) Repeat with opposite leg. You should feel this stretch in the extended leg/ thigh area.
7. Standing Straddle (A) Begin with legs approx. two to two and half shoulders widths apart (B) Grab right ankle- hold for 10 count and repeat to left and center holding both ankles.
8. Sliding Straddle (A) Slide leg apart until it is comfortable to put both hands flat on floor (B) continue to slowly slide them apart until it becomes slightly uncomfortable (C) Hold position with a ten count. Note: The angle of your foot (soles or heels) will greatly determine what part of the legs will receive the greatest benefits.
THE ART OF CONDITIONING!
Excerpts from Mr. Davis’ Official IKF Kickboxing Training Manual.
Exercising for proper conditioning is critical for fighters but even more so for the fighter who is engaged in using the upper and lower body as weapons of offense as well as defense. Such is the Kick Boxer. Enough can’t be said about a fighter getting into the best conditioning possible. I have seen a lot of fighters with excellent techniques, but unfortunately because of poor conditioning they were unable to finish the bout and, or would be so dead tired they could not properly defend themselves and would be knocked out. I’m reminded of a then well known fighter out of North Carolina. He processed some of the best kicks I have ever seen, one who truly had world champion potential. In fact, he taught me a great deal about using my kicks more effectively. He always talked about becoming a world champion kick Boxer. Unfortunately, He liked to party and loved beautiful women. This combination often spells tragedy for the professional athlete. I remember once assisting him with training for an (ESPN) televised fight. I was trying to get him to focus on my program (discussed in this manual.) He only wanted to “literally” dance (something he was good at) through the entire workout. He felt that high impact dancing would give him the total body conditioning he needed to successfully defeat his opponent(s). Needless to say, he lost that fight, mainly on his poor conditioning. He slowly faded into the twilight zone and his dreams of becoming a world champion never materialized.
Fortunately, conditioning has never been a problem for me. I simply loved to workout. However, there are other ways that your conditioning can fail you and that is through improper dieting. We will discuss this later in another chapter. Here are a few tips that will help you obtain optimal conditioning.
There are many exercise routines you can do. However, you only want to concentrate on those that enhance your Kick Boxing skills. For example, running 10 and 15 miles a day will make you a good runner and will probably increase your endurance. Unfortunately, it may not do much for your punching and kicking conditioning. We will now discuss some of the exercising routines you can do to enhance your strength, stamina, and endurance. Later, we will discuss methods of better conditioning the areas that you will use most as a Kick Boxer.
Push ups are great for upper body conditioning, Push Ups will give you the firmness in your arms, especially in the triceps area, which play a large role in your punching power.
Push Ups: hands should be flat on floor – shoulders square – feet together – on toes – keep head in upward position. Starting with your body approx. 2 inches from the floor – (at a moderate pace) begin pushing upward until your arms are extended – repeat. Note: Push Ups should be done in variations such as; feet inclined, hands close together and far apart etc…. Each of these positions will strengthen different part of the upper body. I recommend that they are done in sets of 20 or 30 and only about 3 to 4 sets a day. I mostly did my sets after my morning run, before, during and after my midday workout. Remember you’re not in a push up contest!
Sit Ups or Stomach work Start with your knees pointing upward – soles of feet flat on floor – lying flat on your back – neck aligned with spine – forefingers on temple – bring chest toward thighs – at moderate pace repeat from floor. Stomach work should also be done in variation to condition different areas of the stomach. Some will concentrate on the lower part of the abdomen and others on the middle and upper abdomen. Stomach work such as V-ups, leg lifts, crunches etc. all provide you with the proper stomach conditioning needed for the grueling sport of Kick Boxing. Another note is that the stomach muscles play a major role in kicking. Four sets of 50 a day were sufficient for me while training for fights.
This is a great tool to condition your abdomen. The impact of the ball also prepares you for the shock of kicks and punches you will receive in a match.
This is a great stamina builder. It also helps with footwork and overall conditioning of the body. Start by having a rope that suits your height. Here is a chart that will help you find a rope right for you.
Height, Length up to 5′-5″: 7 1/2 ft.
5′-5″ to 5’8″: 8 1/2 ft.
5′-8″ and up: 9 1/2 ft. (chart available through Ringside Products)
For the Beginner
Start out by holding each handle of rope in each hand. Rope should be held slightly below the waist line. The rotation of the rope should come from the wrist not by swinging the entire arm. As you bring the rope behind you and above the head, anticipate its pace by preparing to jump. The beginner can start out by jumping with one foot at a time and change legs at 5 count. Shortly the five will become easy, than move to 4, 3, and 2. The lower the counts between jumps the more it will increase your stamina, footwork, timing and conditioning. I recommend that you jump rope in 3 minute rounds, and no less than 1 but not more than three rounds per day. Jumping Rope also should be done in variation. You can run in place, double and triple skip it etc. be creative.
Running is one of the most important exercises a Kick Boxer can do. However, for me it was one of the most dreaded deeds of my entire routine. During most of my life as a professional Kick Boxer, I lived on the East Coast. In my opinion, if you want the absolute worst weather in the world live on the East Coast. Either is was too cold or too hot. This made it very difficult for many outdoor activities. However, discipline prevailed. I put myself on a pretty tough schedule. Inspired by the Rocky movies, I would wake up at 4:30 a.m. sharp for my early morning run. I found this time to be very pleasant and serene. It offered me the “Quit Time” I needed to concentrate on the upcoming fight.
Proper Dress while RUNNING
Wearing the proper attire is most important while running, much of what you will wear come from simple common since. Shoes: Wear a shoe that gives you great support at the arch of the foot, as well as one that has good shock absorbency.
Pants vs Shorts
Whether you wear shorts or sweats is really not that important. However, I found that the sweats pants allowed my legs to perspire more which kept them trim for fast kicks. Occasionally, I would wear the leotard tights underneath to induce sweating.
You would obviously want to wear the proper clothes for the weather. Especially in cold weather, it is important to wear warm clothes and a sweater hat and, or hood to hold heat that is released from your head.
Other Tips for road Work
Run fast for stamina Long distance for endurance Mediocre distances at a fast pace for stamina and endurance. Punch while running for better coordination and conditioning. Make a fight out of your run, practice slips, weaving and bobbing, balance etc. Remember: Your not a runner, your a fighter!
THE ART OF DEFENSE!
“PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES“
Excerpts from Mr. Davis’ Official IKF Kickboxing Training Manual.
A strong defense is a precious thing. There are few fighters able to obtain a level of seemingly unbreakable defense. I’ve heard the saying that a strong offense makes a strong defense. In some ways, this is true. If your offense is strong enough, you won’t allow your opponent an opportunity to get into the fight. However, I’ve seen many fights and can’t recall one that a fighter did not get hit …YOU WILL GET HIT! The less punishment you take, the longer your career. You must create a strong defense!
Frankly, I hated getting hit! This is why it was imperative for me to have a defense I could depend on. My length in my kicks often kept me out of striking range. But as I became more confident in my boxing, I did more inside fighting. Yes, I made mistakes and paid for them, but as a result, I developed a pretty good defense.
Note: If your opponent can’t hit you clean…it decreases their effectiveness and chance of winning.
I used a special defense style I called Flicking. Flicking is deflecting blows with the gloves and forearms, knocking them off course. Boxers will relate this to “parrying“, it sort of like catching blows in the palm of the glove. Flicking also allows you to reset quickly without risk of a successful counter. You use only what’s necessary to deflect the blow. I see fighters that stay in the “two arms protecting body and head stance” concentrating on blocking only. If one arm is free, you should use it to counter. The best time to counter is when your opponent is throwing a technique. It’s not my philosophy to allow opponents to beat up my arms. The flick motion tightens the muscles at the point of impact. The “flick” or twisting of the arms will also allow more opportunities to get on the inside of your opponent’s defense. As you bob and weave, slip and turn your body, you will find openings that would not normally be seen in an upright defensive posture.
Finally, understand you will stay behind your basic defensive posture. I’m not suggesting that you fight with your guard at your waistline. However, you will only block blows that come within the danger zone (blows that will hit you if not blocked) Move behind your defense! You don’t want to block a fake blow and get hit by the intended one. Create a stonewall defense. It’s vital to your progress in the fight game. It’s great to have a strong offense but without the value of the defense, its just a matter of time before you’re caught. Take the referee’s words literally when they say “protect yourself at all times“!
Defense Tips to Remember:
- Guard will always remain right above eyebrow and temple.
- Your head is rarely not protected by at least one arm…always move your head!
- Learn to move your head as you punch. Keep your chin down.
- Keep elbows close to your body, not completely against.
- Use forearms and gloves to block most blows.
- Keep your eyes focused on your opponent…don’t miss opportunities.
- The shin portion of the leg can be used effectively for blocking many kicks thrown at the body. For some styles, the shin is the primary blocking tool for leg kicks.
FIVE BLOCKS TO CREATING A STRONG DEFENSE
- Forearm Block: Great for blocking kicks and punches to head. (repeat with left arm side)
- Cross Forearm block: For blocking uppercuts and other blows while inside fighting.
- Double Forearm: For blocking body shots from hands or feet, also works well for techniques coming up the middle of your body. Good for protecting head as well.
- Forearm/Shin Block: Great reinforcement block for strong kicks thrown to body.
- Left and Right Back Hand Blocks: Great for blocking single punches to head area.
Note: There are other styles of blocks that can be used. However, these will get you started in developing your Stonewall Defense.