Today’s class will begin to introduce Shaolin’s wide array of kicking methods, beginning with four of the most fundamental kicks, known as Tī Tuǐ (踢腿). These are divided into Straight Kicks (正踢腿, Zhèng Tī Tuǐ), Outside Kicks (外摆腿, Wài Bǎi Tuǐ), Inside Kicks (里合腿, Lǐ Hé Tuǐ) and Side Kicks (侧踢腿, Cè Tī Tuǐ).
Leg technique is an important part of the basic skills of Shaolin Kung Fu, and it plays a key role in laying the foundation for martial arts and fighting skills. Practicing Tī Tuǐ can improve the flexion and extension of the legs whilst also providing superb control of the hips and core, which are vital attributes required for fighting movements. As with the stances learned in previous classes, these kicks are fundamental training methods practiced in isolation to produce a solid understanding of body awareness, body control and body abilities. In addition, Tī Tuǐ training helps lays the base for further fighting movements with the legs such as kicks and sweeps, which will form an integral part of your long-range attack and defense.
Practicing today’s material seriously will help progress your training in the following ways:
Improving the flexibility of the ligaments in the legs and opening the three meridians on the inner thigh.
Stretching your leg muscles and bringing an improved range of motion to the hip and knee joints, helping to avoid injury as well as countering the tightening of your joints which often occurs with increased age.
Increasing the strength capacity of your joints and leg muscle groups, providing a solid “base” from which to execute technique as well as helping to maintain healthy and functional legs in older age.
Promoting blood flow to your joints and muscles, improving the health and functionality of your hip, knee and ankle joints in particular.
Helping to achieve weight loss. These kicks engage the core, glutes and legs, helping to improve muscle tone in these areas and lose excess fat accumulation in the lower abdomen and legs.
Combating soreness, pain and stiffness in the waist, back, shoulders and legs caused by long-term sitting and a sedentary lifestyle. By improving your circulation and removing stagnant blood, this training can help prevent arteriosclerosis, with regular practice also helping to relieve the numbness of the hands and feet.
Follow the kicks in today’s class, placing correct technique and posture as priority. Ensure your hips remain square and tucked back rather than pushing them forward or out of alignment as you kick, with your supporting heel planted firmly on the floor. It may be tempting to sacrifice proper technique in order to kick higher, however this will negate the positive benefits of the practice and reduce your chances of success when it comes to further Kung Fu training.
Once you’re comfortable with each movement, try following the below plan:
10 Straight Kicks
10 Outside Kicks
10 Inside Kicks
10 Side Kicks
Then rest and repeat for the duration of your training session according to your ability. Good luck and see you for the next class!