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Preparing for black belt test, one of the items I'm worried about are jump kicks.
I'm a heavier person, and it's harder to stay up in the air compared with the young kids, so less time to perform the kick well.

As expected at this point, I have a good level of technique executing the basic kicks: front, roundhouse, side kick, back kick.

What kind of practice would help me improve the jump version of these kicks?
Maybe exercises to improve jumping capabilities would be part of this.

Again, the goal would be to perform well at a belt test.

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    My TKD test to get brown belt resulted in a total failure to do a non-jumping spinning heel kick speed break to a single board dangled from two fingers. It upset me that I couldn't do it. So I took 6 months "off" from TKD just to practice that kick, and the jumping version of it. I really worked at it and the new forms I had to learn. Then I came back and within 3 months they tell me I'm ready to test for 1st dan. The 1st dan test comes, I was given a 2 board jumping, spinning heel kick speed break. Nailed it! No problem. The boards landed in the drywall. :) My advice: PRACTICE!!! – Steve Weigand Nov 28 at 15:55
  • Will you have to demonstrate/use the jump kicks in sparring sessions? Or are they going to be performed in katas or with a pad holder? – RoundHouse Nov 29 at 8:05
  • @roundhose It should be to demonstrate technique, from still position, with no target. Pad targets could also be used, but no sparring involved for sure. There should be also board breaks, but for those effectiveness is more important that displaying technique. – Daniel Reis Nov 29 at 8:59
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The dreaded jumping kicks, here are some tips from my own experience and teaching club members:

  1. Look after yourself first. If you feel any pain in practice STOP, take the necessary rest and doctor/physio advice before continuing.
  2. Protect your joints - If you can get access to a softly sprung floor (like what is used for beginner gymnastics or freerunning studios) fantastic (just be aware your feet will "stick" in this a little so be careful on rotation). Otherwise practice in well cushioned shoes - some running shoes are ideal for this.
  3. Break down the techniques.
    • most jump techniques require a cycle motion, practice jumping as high as you can by throwing the non kicking leg in the air.
    • pay attention to the way you move in the air and land - for high kicks and twist kicks keep your body straight and land the way you were moving. Turning kicks make sure you get that hip over (throw the non kicking leg slightly outward to aid rotation)
  4. Once happy with the motion in the air - do the same jumps but add a tuck (still not actually kicking). This will make your kicks look more tidy - help you get over people/obstacles (if that is required) - and make you feel like you have more time in the air.
  5. Build up the height and distance as required - My height record is 230cm for jump front/high - that was one afternoon building it up a couple of cm at a time, my warm ups were at 180cm (barely above my head). There is some part of the brain that makes it seem a few cm suddenly feels like a chasm away from what you can do - tackle in as smaller leaps as necessary.

There are lots of little bits of technique that can help - but honestly repetition by making it safe for your body brings the biggest gains in the least time. As for strength and explosiveness for the jumps themselves - variations of squats are the way to go, squat jumps, weighted squats or just a plain leg press at the gym.

Lastly - as you get older these jumps become more hazardous - if you have injuries that can make them worse too - if they are really an issue - focus on the other aspects of the grading and make sure they are strong enough to compensate this part. If you have a medical reason for not being able to jump (bad back?) then write to your examination board - they may allow you an alternative (I had to break more boards with a different kick when I was unable to do long distance side due to a back injury) YMMV.

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