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Putting the "Inside" in the Jump Inside Kick (FHPW p. 59)
In martial arts, people often unintentionally focus exclusively on the delivery of a technique, trying to make it as fast as possible. However, the delivery of a technique is only part of the story. What if it misses? Or what if it doesn’t affect the opponent enough to stop them from reacting? Recovery from a technique is just as important as the delivery, if not more. Plus, a fast recovery also looks better.
For example, let’s take a look at Tae Kwon Do and kicking techniques, something that martial art is famous for. If you watch the masters along with the somewhat less experienced practitioners, you will notice that the latter tend to have very powerful kicks, which get to the desired target very quickly (e.g. kicking target or punching bag). However, there is often a lack of a snap of the leg back to the ready position. The leg is often left in an extended position after the kick, and slowly dropped down to the ground or brought back, making it an easy target to grab. This leaves the person in a vulnerable position for a longer amount of time then necessary. On the other hand, watch the masters and you will see that they whip the kick to the target just as fast, but after impact, they snap the leg (and body) back to the ready position rapidly, minimizing the amount of time they are vulnerable. Their kicks are just as powerful, if not more, but look a lot faster, and with a lot more control, which they do have. That’s why they are masters of their art.
The same principle applies to Wushu techniques, whether they are punches or kicks, on the ground, or in this case, in the air (while trying to spin as much as possible). On the Jump Inside Kick, many people focus on the takeoff and the initial part of a kick when they are practicing. However, those aspects are only half of the technique. You may have gotten to the “top” as fast and accurately as you could but you still need to get “down” just as fast if not faster, without messing anything up. One must always remember to return the body to the optimal position after a kick. In a spinning air move such as the Jump Inside Kick, that means getting into the air back spin position (see FHPW p. 34, 68). After your right leg kicks up and makes contact with the target left hand, you must SNAP it down as fast as you can so that is vertically below you (see FHPW p. 67-68). If you leaned your upper body backward or forward to make the kick easier (even though you know you shouldn’t have – see FHPW p. 68, 72-73), make sure you undo that movement so that your upper body SNAPs back to a vertical position as well. These movements return your body to the “ready” position, just as you would have done if you were executing a kick on the ground. This is what it means to put the “Inside” on the Jump Inside Kick.
While we explored this concept in the context of the Jump Inside Kick, it applies to the other jump kicks as well. Just the other day, I was discussing Wushu jumping techniques with some Wushu professionals from China, one of which was a coach for the Beijing Wushu team. And they said… (any guesses?) …the exact same thing about snapping the leg down after kick impact. So, always remember to recover from a kicking motion at least as fast as you deliver the kick. Also, keep this concept in mind when you are practicing your Wushu basics as well – never forget the martial background behind Wushu and you will keep getting better!
People are always looking to push the frontier of performance. What was once considered “amazing” soon becomes “common” all too soon. Before you know it, that once-amazing move is a “required” move. In the quest for performance, one should remember to focus on fundamentals. Without a solid foundation, it will be difficult to achieve high performance on a consistent basis. It is a good idea to take a step back every so often, to practice the fundamental movements of a technique. This will give you a chance to review and see if you developed any new bad habits (usually from “cheats” and “quirks” to get more performance).
A good example of this being applied to Wushu is going from a 360° Jump Inside Kick (360° Xuanfengjiao or XFJ) to a 720° Jump Inside Kick. This transition is nothing more than cleaning up your jump and spin mechanics and then putting a bit more effort into it. For many athletes, the lure of the 720° move is so great that they skip over perfecting their mechanics for the 360° first. This causes bad habits to be formed, which greatly hamper the progress to the multi-rotational moves. If you take a look at good professional Wushu athletes, their 720° moves look quite effortless. Even the 900° and 1080° look quite “easy”. This is because their mechanics are solid and pretty much quite near perfect (at least the top professionals). All of the extra effort they put into the move is channeled properly into the desired movements (rotation and jump height). For people with less sound mechanics, much of the extra effort put into the move is wasted trying to accommodate and correct for the poor rotational and jump mechanics.
The higher rotation techniques are more difficult because of the decreased tolerance for sloppiness or errors. This decreased tolerance is dictated by physics. You can’t change physics, but you can improve your technique and your consistency. However, doing so takes considerable effort, dedication, and…going back to basics. This is the reason why the book is titled “Fundamentals of High Performance Wushu…” and not just “High Performance Wushu…” With that said, remember to constantly work on your fundamentals! If you ever develop a problem with a technique after you have “mastered” it, look at your basics. You will often find the answer to your problem there.
Observation Methods for Training
The first step to learning is to learn what is correct and what is not. It doesn’t matter how hard you train unless you are practicing the right stuff. As the quote goes, it’s not “practice makes perfect” but “PERFECT practice makes perfect”. So, before you learn a new move, make sure you learn it from someone or something that can show you the correct way to do the move.
Once you know understand the correct technique, how you train, as opposed to the 5 W’s (where/who/what/why/when), is the next crucial aspect to improvement. You need to know what you are doing whenever you are performing a move. You need to know what the ground feels like under your feet, what happens to your shoes, how the parts of your body are positioned and what forces are pulling/pushing on them, what you see with your eyes, what direction your vestibular system (balance system) tells you you’re facing, what the colors of the walls/ceiling/sky are, the location of the lights, etc. And then you need to correlate that with what somebody else sees. This is important because what you see and feel from the first-person point of view (POV) can be completely different then what is actually happening. I’m sure you’ve had experiences where you thought you were doing something right but your instructor kept telling you that you were doing it wrong. And 99 out of 100 times, the instructor was right.
Therefore, it is better if you can find somebody to observe you, whether a friend, fellow athlete, or instructor, while you practice. They will be able to tell you what they are seeing and you can determine if that is what you feel you are doing. However, an even more effective method, which removes inter-observer differences, is to shoot videos of yourself when you train. This way, you can objectively see what the camera sees and correlate that to what you feel. You may even notice errors that other people may not be able to pick up. The camera won’t lie, embellish, or sugar-coat anything…well, unless you set up the camera so it shoots from a special angle…
I highly recommended that you video your techniques on a frequent basis. If not every training session, then at least once every 5 to 10 sessions. You’ll be much less frustrated, and you’ll improve much faster. And, you can take your video clips and show them to people who may be able to analyze them and help you. As a final bonus, if you land something cool, you’ve got it on video as proof and for all posterity to watch in awe =) As discussed below, the High Performance Wushu Training Forums are now online and will provide a medium for fellow wushu athletes to discuss issues regarding techniques. This is the perfect place to put a link to your video (YouTube will work although video quality is poor) and to get help/feedback from other athletes who may have overcome the obstacles you currently face. This forum will be a place where you can get help from people all over the world, athletes and instructors alike – you will no longer be limited to getting help only from the people you know!
Training Forums are Now Online!
The High Performance Wushu Training Forums are now online! These forums are a dedicated place for all athletes to post questions, comments, suggestions, and their experiences regarding Wushu techniques and training. If you are having trouble with a technique, post your problem on the appropriate forum so other athletes can give you a hand. Remember, as discussed above, you should be shooting videos of your training sessions periodically. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth at least a thousand pictures, if not more! This forum is the perfect place to post LINKS to your videos (which you can upload to video sharing sites) so you can get help from people around the world. Let’s work together to help each other improve and to build a valuable training resource for all Wushu athletes!
The Training Forums are separated into two areas – Fundamentals and Techniques. The Techniques forums are self-explanatory. If you would like to post about a technique which does not have a dedicated forum, please post it in the Other Techniques forum. If there is enough interest, a new forum dedicated to that technique will be created. The Fundamentals forums are for general training issues as well as the fundamentals of jumping and spinning. Remember, the better you can jump and spin, the better your techniques will be (and the easier they’ll become). Don’t forget to keep working on the mechanics of your jumps and spins!
To go to the High Performance Wushu Training Forums, just click on www.highperformancewushu.com/forums/phpbb2/index.php and create and account.
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