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Ask the Author: Sang H. Kim,
instructor of Ultimate Flexibility

Question: I just received an issue of Impact, what a great newsletter. I hope I continue to receive it. Master Kim's book on Martial Arts over 40 has been a great help in my sparring. I have a question for the Author: I am 53 years old and am currently a Red Belt in Taekwondo. Can I still achieve flexibility in my hips, without causing hip problems later in life? My front kick is well over my head, but my side kicks are only waist high. Hugh from MO

Answer from Sang H. Kim:

Dear Hugh,

I am glad you enjoy training in Taekwondo. It is normal that your front kick goes higher than the side kick due to the structure of human body. After 40, I usually recommend, practicing with cautions. Side kick, for instance, should be rather practical: you do not need to kick higher than the stomach with your side kick. If you want to improve the height of the kick, here are my suggestions:

1) Do horse riding stance in comfortable position - 1 minute

2) Do horse riding stance in a deep stance (without knee pain) - 2 sets of 30 seconds

3) Squat down and hold your ankles breathing deeply - 2 sets of 30 seconds

4) From #3 posture, put both hands on the floor in front of you, slide your right foot to the right all the way and stretch your right leg, then bring back the right leg and repeat to the left with your left leg - 2 sets of 30 seconds each side

5) Have a rest for 30 seconds - walk around while breathing deeply. You may shake your legs and ankles occasionally to loosen up the muscles and joints.

6) Hold a stable bar, chair or table, and do a slow raising right side kick. Hold in the air as long as you can. Repeat the left side the same way-minimum 3 sets of 15 seconds on both sides.

7) Finish by practicing your normal side kick in the air or to a heavy bag.

I recommend doing the above 3 times a week for 12 weeks. It is important to know your limits and progress from there. Monitor your progress weekly. You may keep a journal and see what you accomplish in about 3 months.

Along the way, you will find your own variations that work best for you. You may be able to expand your training program beyond what you can imagine now. I hope this helps you.

Wishing you all the best!


Sang H. Kim

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sang H. Kim is an internationally respected author of 13 martial arts books, including his new book Vital Point Strikes and the best sellers Ultimate Flexibility, Ultimate Fitness through Martial Arts, Combat Strategy and Teaching: the Way of the Master, and star of over 100 martial arts instructional DVDs and video downloads programs including Self-defense Encyclopedia, Knife-defense, Power Breathing, Junsado Training Series, and Complete Taekwondo Series. He won the 1976 Korean National Championship and was named Instructor of the Year by the Korean government in 1983. As a special agent during his military service, he developed tactical combat methods for hand-to-hand and hand-to-weapon combat for covert operatives.

Related Articles:

Improve Your Flexibility
How Stretching Works

Related Books and DVDs:

Martial Arts After 40
Conditioning for Combat Sports book
Ultimate Fitness Through Martial Arts book
Complete Kicking book
Ultimate Flexibility Book

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