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Yes, I have read the other kick balance thread but I've tried the wall side kick, repeating slowly many many times, and the other drills but my balance issues don't arrive until I'm recovering from a hard kick, not initiating it.

I'm about 5'9" and 150 lbs,around 4% body fat. I've been in various sports such as football and track, so I'm pretty confident in my overall muscle strength despite my light weight. Especially my legs, I ran sprints in track so I know they are fairly strong and quick. I'm also confident in the strength of my abs, back, and obliques.

I have a background in tae kwon do, karate and muay thai, but I never took classes for more than a couple months at a time. Whenever I'm repeating a muay thai round kick or a TKD back kick, I never land gracefully. I'm always taking a step to the side to re-balance myself. Even if I exaggerate lowering my center of gravity, as soon as I put power into a kick it's like the recoil of my own move throws me off balance. I do emphasize hitting completely through a target, but I still believe I should be able to control my own body posture throughout the move.

I have noticed that on the bottom of my feet, my weight distribution rockets to the side during a kick, and that is the direction my body moves towards. But I'm always keeping my heels off the floor and bouncing on the balls of my feet.

Here's an example of what happens, I'm standing in a typical TKD stance with my left foot forward. I twist my hips and initiate the back kick, and as soon as I "snap" the kick and tuck it back down, my new front foot(right) has to step off my center line towards the right. So how would I train to have a swift, graceful balance that lands on my center line after a kick without sacrificing power?

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Are you training under a coach currently? Video could also help greatly. –  Dave Liepmann Apr 17 '12 at 20:46
    
No, I just read books and watch videos and train alone at home. I'll ask around to borrow a camera and upload a video to youtube. –  Thumbtack Apr 17 '12 at 22:16
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5 Answers

If training with a sensei is not an option at the moment, understand that it limits both your knowledge and what it takes to self-correct. A trained eye can see where you are having issues. Since that has been harped on with just about every answer, I'll move on to the technique.

Use a Heavy Bag

Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between striking a target, and performing a technique in air. There is a lot you can learn about small deficiencies in your technique from actually striking an object. This is where the heavy bag becomes your friend. All you need is a 50lb bag, nothing too heavy.

Just by striking the bag, you can feel the impact on your foot. When the foot is a little off, it just doesn't feel solid. Also, by having a visible target it can improve your accuracy. The energy of the kick should transfer into the bag. If you have noticeable push back, you could have a couple problems:

  • Timing: releasing the kick too soon or too late either results in missing the target completely, or not having the center of gravity driving into the planted foot.
  • Commitment: you have to commit to the kick and trust that it will do its job. If you don't, you won't use the proper amount of force which will result in balance problems.
  • Aim: if you aim too high or too low for a technique, you will be off balance vertically instead of laterally. Any side kick is designed to work from the solar plexus to the belt level.

These are things you can never tell by simply striking air, or a target that doesn't have any weight. Once it feels good and solid on the bag, you can go back to doing it in the air. The kick should feel a lot better.

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Ah I've been looking for materials to construct a kicking bag. Thanks a lot I will definitely keep this in mind. –  Thumbtack Apr 18 '12 at 16:11
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Coming from a taekwondo background, I see a lot of balance issues come from "banana" alignment. When you strike with your back-kick (or more commonly, side-kick), you want your body to be in a straight line from heel through your hips to your head, but it's very common for people to lean forwards to look around their body, which will lead to over-balancing in that direction.

You need to sight your target by rotating your head to look over your shoulder or narrowly along your body ("under your armpit" sometimes works), rather than bending forward at the waist and moving your whole torso off-centre.

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Tanner's Law

The number of people who can self-teach martial arts is terrifically small. These people do exist. They are generally genetic freaks, established extraordinary athletes in another discipline, and/or have an unusually dedicated group to train with. This is called Tanner's Law, after one such impressive individual.

It is of particular importance that you realize that a couple months each of a smattering of different striking arts is not going to produce optimal soil for self-training.

Get Coaching

Your best bet is to find a good coach--whether Muay Thai, karate, or tae kwon do--and train diligently under their guidance. Three orders of magnitude less productive than that solution would be posting video and getting it critiqued over the internet. Describing the problem with words? I can't imagine it will be at all productive.

On a totally unrelated note, please don't say you're at 4% body fat unless you have a DEXA or bod-pod report saying so. If you do, I am very impressed. I don't think many people can stay at 4% for any substantial length of time. Bodybuilders hit 4% for competitions. As for your level of strength, I recommend using objective measures like how much you can squat or deadlift, instead of subjective measures like "I feel strong" or "I used to run track."

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Well if you put it that way, the machine my coach used to test all his athletes read me as 4.1%, I didn't go see a specialist or anything. Sorry I didn't mean to imply I'm some kind of super-athlete, but whether it's correct or way off that's what I was told. I've always been underweight and I max out 235lbs on bench so I like to believe my body strength is some-what decent compared to my size. Yes, I realize I can only learn so much on my own, but I just don't have the money to pay for a membership. This is just a hobby to keep my busy during college. –  Thumbtack Apr 18 '12 at 5:04
    
That's impressive. What kind of machine? –  Dave Liepmann Apr 18 '12 at 12:48
    
It was just a gadget that looked lot like this one. encrypted-tbn2.google.com/… Again, I don't have a certification proving it and I know I'm no Tanner. –  Thumbtack Apr 18 '12 at 16:08
    
@Thumbtack I'm sorry if I came across as hypercritical about the BF%. Now I'm interested in that machine. :) Good luck with your practice. –  Dave Liepmann Apr 18 '12 at 18:01
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I hate to say it, but you probably do need to train with a coach to show you why you are pushing your weight off centre.

For a straight kick, you should be pushing through your centre of mass to your anchor foot - it sounds like you are aiming incorrectly, or possibly twisting your body incorrectly, but it would need someone to watch you to help you correct this, I think.

For any kick where you spin, you need to know where your weight is going - a good test is to try a 360 spin while jumping on a trampoline. If you can land exactly back on the spot, then your balance is working. Try the same with a kick and watch where you move.

At the end, though - you need a coach for martial arts, otherwise you just teach yourself bad habits.

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man I would love to take classes if I had the money. But straight kicks are no problem, such as a stamp or side kick. It's only on kicks where I swing my body for momentum, such as a round house or a reverse hook kick. –  Thumbtack Apr 17 '12 at 22:15
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Go slowly. Go through the motion really slowly. And while you're doing that, pay attention to where your balance is going. When you're done with the extension, bring your leg back. Really slowly. And pay attention.

This will teach you what you need to know.

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Okay, do you think I should be practicing outside on cement like I usually do, or would it be better to practice barefoot on carpet where it's much easier to keep my balance? –  Thumbtack Apr 18 '12 at 16:04
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@Thumbtack - practice on cement. You have better grip on cement than carpet. Landing wrong on concrete might hurt more, but use the pain as an aversion mechanism and avoid it. –  slugster Apr 18 '12 at 23:47
    
@Thumbtack If you're worried about falling, you're still moving too fast. –  Trevoke Apr 19 '12 at 2:08
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