If you have ever watched any martial arts, whether in a movie or practice or competition videos online, you will have noticed that high kicks are prevalent.
Not only is this a common move in lots of martial arts, but it also looks pretty cool.
As a result, it is often one of the first things that people want to learn when they take an interest in martial arts.
The good thing about high kicks is that it is something that you can practice at home with little instruction and no equipment. So, how do we perform one?
Why Are High Kicks Common In Martial Arts?
Before we get to the step-by-step, we should look at why high kicks are so common a move in martial arts.
High kicks as a combat move are not overly effective, they are a great way to improve flexibility.
This is useful when performing martial arts as it reduces the risk of something snapping or otherwise being injured through hyperextension, both of which are less than ideal.
High kicks do have a place in sparring as a way to show dynamism and skill.
They are also a popular move in arts such as taekwondo, where high kicking and rapid succession kicks are common.
How To Do A High Kick
The process of performing a high kick is relatively simple.
The main concern when trying high kicks, especially if you are new to them, is to warm up properly.
Never skip out on a warm-up, taking an extra 5-10 minutes to avoid a painful injury is worth it.
Warm-Up And Stretch
The first step in any exercise or practice is to warm up.
If you are warming up specifically to practice high kicks, there are a few areas that it is important to focus on.
Firstly, make sure to gently stretch and warm up your spine. Moves such as toe touches and spinal rolls are good for this, as well as many yoga moves such as the cat-cow pose, and sun salutations.
The spine is integral to everything we do when we exercise so even if you don’t think you’ll risk damaging your back, a warm-up never hurts.
Stretch your legs. High kicking focuses heavily on your legs and more importantly trying to keep your legs straight as well as high.
A common injury caused by high kicks is hyperextension, to avoid this, make sure you warm up your muscles and joints properly.
Stretches such as folds, downward dogs, quad and calf stretches, and lunges are great to loosen up your muscles.
Hip opener stretches can also be helpful as a warm-up.
To prepare for a high kick you need to create a strong base.
Stand tall with an elongated spine, keep your chin up and focus on a set point if you are unsure about your balance. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart, in line with your hips, and parallel to each other.
Lift one leg as high as you can directly in front of you. The movement should be fast but controlled.
Try to avoid jerking your leg up to avoid knee injuries.
You should also avoid starting with your kicking foot behind your hips, the swinging motion may help get your leg higher, but you are at higher risk of injury.
Return And Repeat
After performing the kicking motion, return your foot to its starting position, and repeat the process with the opposite leg.
Continue this alternate repetition until you have completed your set if used as a workout.
When performing high kicks, it is important to maintain proper form and posture.
Your back should remain straight throughout the entire movement, your chest should be open with your shoulders back, and remain focused on your fixed point.
Keep your core engaged throughout the movement to help maintain a stable base and to make sure that the movement is smooth and fast.
Remember to breathe during your high kick, it can be effective to exhale as you kick to get more power behind the movement.
How To Improve Flexibility
Flexibility is the key to performing a high kick properly. Some people are naturally more flexible than others, but if you are not one of those people, there are things you can do to improve your flexibility.
This is the easiest way to improve your flexibility. Begin a stretching routine to allow you to kick higher.
Stretches focused on your hips, calves, quads, and hamstrings will be most effective.
These include stretches such as lunges, frog stretches, pigeon pose, heel drops, and forward bends.
Besides stretching regularly, practicing kicking daily can help improve your flexibility.
Getting your body used to the movement involved in high kicks is beneficial in improving the range of your kicks.
This practice can also help to alleviate any anxiety you may have around causing yourself injury through kicking.
This exercise can help you to improve your high kicks in many ways. Practicing the motion of a high kick slowly allows you to control the height of your kick and gently increase the high you can go to.
It also helps you to learn the correct form for a high kick. Once you have practiced leg raises a lot, the form will become muscle memory and will help you kick higher and avoid injury.
While there is no equipment required for practicing high kicks, there are a few things that can help you improve your kicks and flexibility quicker.
Resistance bands can help you get a better stretch in some moves and can be useful if you are starting with very little flexibility.
Resistance bands can also be used to help condition your core and leg muscles which can improve the power and control of your kicks.
Yoga blocks can help you with stretching when you are just starting.
If you are struggling to complete a stretch, the clever positioning of a yoga block can help you get there without increasing the risk of injury.
High kicks are a great move to learn to improve your flexibility and introduce you to martial arts.
Remember to always warm-up and stretch properly before attempting high kicks to avoid injury.