Hello, my name is Ragnar and I'm from Iceland. Just about a month ago or so I begun training Karate. I've bought the Ultimate Flexibility: For Martial Arts video already and have found it really helpful as I've never really been very flexible. I am now training for about 40 minutes per day at home (at least) using the Easy/Moderate Workout and often the flexibility for kicking part. I also tend to add a few stretches with a partner (when possible) which I learned in my Dojo and well, after such a short period I already feel much better. I was wondering if you might have any tips on how to train my balance and such? I have found that when kicking I could have a lot better control over for how to land and such and be able to improvise my control over the leg while it's in the air. I am really dedicated to studying this and have/will continue to spend a lot of time doing so. I was also wondering if you would have any suggestions of which videos to buy in order to be able to practise more at home?
Answer from Sang H. Kim:
Congratulations on your determination to train.
Tips on how to train balance: There are three things that need your attention for balance: correct head position, eye direction, and body alignment. When moving pay attention to little things like how you move your legs (crossing or natural), knees bent or stiff, small and quick footwork or long strides. Always fix your eyes on the target you are moving toward.
Keep your head upright. Relax your shoulders and arms for additional support and natural rhythm in motion. Lower your center of gravity so that you feel comfortable and secure. The most important thing is to center yourself at all times. Do not overextend your body.
For side kick for example, hold a table or stretching bar, and raise your leg to the side and close your eyes. You can internalize how you feel by doing this. Balance, after all, is internal feedback of your movement for external correction. When you become good at one technique, try to practice with your eyes closed (in a safe place).
There is a growing population of Home training martial artists today. In the old days, there were not many training materials but today we have plenty of books and videos plus the Internet for information. You can surely train at home, but if you can, find a good instructor and learn directly from him or her, at least until you get solid foundation.
To supplement your training, the Ultimate Flexibility book is more thorough in describing techniques than the video. There are various sample exercises for variety of situations such as flexibility exercise for kickers, boxers, grapplers, high-kickers, etc. It's an excellent companion for the video.
The Vital Point Strikes book is geared to studying by yourself or with a partner. If you practice alone, you may try finding the points on your own body and see how they work. You can practice on a heavy bag or other target as well. Practicing in the air facing the mirror is also a good way. Use your imagination.
I hope these answers are of help to your training. Wishing you all the best in your training!
Sang H. Kim