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, author of Ultimate Flexibility and Martial Arts After 40:
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 caution. Side kick, for instance, should be rather practical: you do not need to kick higher than the stomach with your side kick. However, if you want to improve the height of the kick, here are my suggestions:
1) Do horse riding stance in a comfortable position - 1 minute
2) Do horse riding stance in a deep stance (as deep as you can 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) Rest for 30 seconds - walk around while breathing deeply. Shake your legs and ankles occasionally to loosen up the muscles and joints.
6) Hold a stable bar, chair or table, and do slow raising right side kicks. Hold your leg extended in the air as long as you can. Repeat on both sides-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 want to keep a journal and see what you accomplish in 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