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High Performance Wushu
E-Newsletter

Issue No. 1 | May 4, 2007

Contents

Introduction
Jump Kick-Height Requirement Change *** IMPORTANT! ***
How to use the QRTG
Upcoming Issues/Improvements

Introduction

Welcome to the High Performance Wushu Newsletters! They are designed to supplement and update the material presented on the High Performance Wushu website (www.highperformancewushu.com), including the book Fundamentals of High Performance Wushu: Taolu Jumps and Spins (FHPW Book). Wushu is rapidly evolving, with new rules and requirements being instituted, and new barriers being constantly broken. Despite these changes, the fundamental mechanics of the techniques remain the same. The techniques will be reviewed periodically and important aspects will be highlighted. When new training exercises are available, they will be explained in these newsletters as well. With that said, the first topic is about the jump kick height requirements and how they affect (or shouldn’t affect) your technique.

Jump Kick-Height Requirements

The required height for the kick in several of the jump kicks has changed (and they may keep changing!) Be that as it may, not everybody is following the kick height requirements… Regardless, to make sure you are well prepared to handle any changes, let’s go over how the current requirements will affect your technique. The two main requirements which have changed are the kick height for the Jump Front Kick (Tengkong Feijiao or TKFJ) and the Standing Jump Outside Kick (Standing Tengkong Bailian or sTKBL). The regulations state that the kick has to reach at least shoulder height or higher, or else “a deduction shall be made”. Fortunately, if your technique is sound, these modifications should have little, if any impact on your performance.

Jump Front Kick - Tengkong Feijiao (FHPW p. 45)

If you follow the technique described in the book, you will not need to make any major changes in your technique. The key to kicking up to shoulder height properly is flexibility. If you are not flexible enough, you’ll be compensating by rounding your back during the kick. As discussed in the text, this doesn’t look good and more importantly, it can lead to some serious landing consequences. So first of all, make sure you are flexible enough to kick up to your shoulder height without rounding your back. If you’ve been practicing Wushu for a decent amount of time, this shouldn’t be all that difficult as the movement is similar to that of a Front Slap Kick. If not, keep working on your flexibility, making sure that you have proper body position during all of your stretches (so you stretch the right muscles).

Next, since you are kicking higher, you may need to push forward slightly more in the upper body to provide adequate counterbalance. This should be only a slight change, just enough so you don’t tilt backwards from the higher kick. Make sure you do not push forward so much so that your body tilts forward and down – that would be counterproductive to everything you were doing earlier during the approach and takeoff (see FHPW p. 46-49 to review the approach and takeoff). Remember to keep the lower part of the left leg tucked tightly below the left thigh.

Finally, since your kick is moving through a greater distance (larger swing arc), you will not only need to kick up faster, but DOWN faster as well. Remember, there is a distinct “snapping down” of the kicking leg after impact with the hand is made (see FHPW p.51). This contributes greatly to the cleanliness and contrast of the move. It’ll also help your landing leg come down earlier so you can land safely. This is especially important if your jump vertical is not very high.

Overall, the modifications are fairly simple and straightforward to implement. With some practice, your Jump Front Kick will be ready for competition, whatever the regulations are!

Standing Jump Outside Kick - Standing Tengkong Bailian (FHPW p. 97)

Similarly, if you follow the technique described in the book, you will not need to make any major changes in your technique. The only thing you need to do is kick higher with the right leg, up to your shoulder height, without rounding your back or leaning forward too much. To do that, you will need to make sure you have enough flexibility to kick properly. Remember to stretch while focusing on your body posture to ensure that the proper muscles are stretched.

The most important aspect to this requirement change is kicking your right leg up quickly AND snapping it down just as fast, if not faster (see FHPW p. 99-100). You want to minimize the time your leg is extended far away from your spin axis. The more time it hangs out there, the more time you will be spending rotating more slowly. Get that leg up there quickly and then snap it down even faster. After snapping the leg down, get into your optimal spinning position and ride the rotation the rest of the way down (see FHPW p. 100). Try not to round your back when you kick. Doing so may have an effect on your spin axis if you are not careful. If you do end up rounding your back a bit during the kick, be sure to neutralize it as you snap your kicking leg down. You want to make sure you are spinning with your body in the most vertically extended position possible.

There is one other remark, unrelated to the kick-height requirement, that I would like to mention about this kick. You want the kick impact to happen after 180 degrees of rotation, if not more. However, you do not want it to happen too late (e.g. at or after 360 degrees). The best looking part of this technique is the rotation after the kick. Just watch the videos of the professionals doing it and you’ll see what I mean. If you rotate too much in the beginning, you’ll only have a little bit left to rotate afterwards, reducing the amount of the “good-looking” portion of your move. The other reason is that you want to maximize the time you spend in the optimal air spin position. Doing so will increase your total amount of rotation. The initial portion of your takeoff and spin is far from optimal. Your arms are just beginning to pull in and your legs are just recovering from the push off of the ground. If you enter your spin position here, you’ll have to break out of it to kick and then re-enter the spin position, resulting in wasted air time. However, if you kick before you enter the optimal spin position, you can “overlap” those two non-optimal-spinning-positions (i.e. the take-off and the kick). For most people, optimal spin position isn’t reached until about nearly 360° of rotation. Therefore, you don’t want to kick after one full rotation.

That’s pretty much it! If your spin axis is established correctly and you can get back to your optimal air spin position quickly, this higher kick height requirement should have next to no impact on your performance.

How to Effectively Use the Quick Reference Training Guide (QRTG)

So you got your copy of the Quick Reference Training Guide. Now what? The most effective way to use the QRTG is to bring it with you to practice. Before practicing a particular technique, look through the training guide to review the Key Aspects. Visualize yourself doing the move perfectly. Then look at the Common Errors and your personal notes (if you took any) and review what not to do. Visualize yourself doing the move perfectly again, making sure that you are not committing any of the common errors. Now go practice the move. If you need a warm-up, do some of the Training Exercises listed for that technique. They will help prepare your body for the movements necessary in the technique itself. After each attempt at the technique, review in your mind what you just did to find out what you did wrong, and what you could have done better. Be sure to get feedback from an observer, whether another person or video footage from the camera. Now go back and try to perform the technique again, this time with the changes/improvements. Rinse and repeat.

If you need help or a reminder, take a look at the QRTG. If there is any concept or error you don’t understand, look in the FHPW book (page numbers are located after each entry) to review. If you are having repeated difficulty with a concept or error, try one of the training exercises designed to deal with that issue. If you are having multiple errors at the same time, try to correct them one at a time. Eventually, you will have them all corrected. Remember, it is better to work smarter rather than harder. It is very important to find out why something isn’t working and then fix it. This is infinitely more effective than trying the same (wrong) thing over and over again. There is a saying that goes “Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”

Keep practicing smarter and soon you’ll be ready for prime-time!

Upcoming Issues/Improvements

Stay tuned for the next issue of the High Performance Wushu Newsletter which will have more training tips including "Observation Methods for Training" and more! Make sure to check the website www.highperformancewushu.com for new features such as:

  • International Orders
    An international order inquiry form has been added so there is no need to manually e-mail international order requests.
  • Links Page
    A “Links” page will be added so sites related to Wushu and training can be posted as another resource for you. If there are any sites that you would like seen on the “Links” page, please e-mail them, with the subject line "Links" to comments@highperformancewushu.com for review.
  • Training Videos
    In the upcoming months, training videos will be put together to illustrate the concepts described in the FHPW book, and to demonstrate the training exercises.

If you have any questions or comments, please send them to comments@highperformancewushu.com. And if you have any success stories, I’d love to hear them!

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