I was wondering if you could provide any advice and exercises to help with balance. I find myself having difficulty with my kicking and not only the more advanced kicks, spin kicks, etc, but also the fundamental kicks as well. I am 38 years old and have been training in TKD for 4 years now. This balance problem along with my limited flexibility is making my advancement difficult.
Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide.
Matt Odishoo, CT
Answer from Sang H. Kim:
Balance is the ability to maintain your body position and equilibrium both in movement and rest. The former is dynamic balance and the latter static balance.
The key to a good balance is in your posture: the alignment of your feet, hips, spine, head and arms. The most important sensory cues are the visual ones. Vision provides your body with a ready means of finding your position relative to the ground.
The second cue is your feet. They relay important information to the brain by sensing the pressure of the ground beneath them.
The third cue is the vestibular apparatus, found in the ear. It makes balance adjustments and controls the righting reflex which takes precedence over other sensory and motor systems during disorientation.
Based upon these theoretical views, you can get some clues to improve your sense of balance.
- Place your head upright.
- Correct your eye direction.
- Check your body alignment.
- Practice a variety of stances for different techniques.
- Pay attention to details while you are moving to eliminate unnecessary motions that hinder efficiency.
- Keep your knees relaxed and flexed - don't lock them out.
- Relax so that you don't overextend the usage of your energy. Focus it on the necessary section of the motion.
- Utilize gravity wisely.
- Maximize the principle of reaction force: left Vs. right; upward Vs. downward movement for balance.
- Always stabilize your initial movement for the best leverage. Then let it go.
For your spin kicks, try to pivot both feet before kicking, chamber the knee, spot the target, keep your standing knee slightly bent, and let the kick be released instead of kicking with a lot of force. At the beginning do it holding the balance bar. Then speed up.
Sang H. Kim