I read a really good post recently about how “movies lie to you.” It covered a variety of things we see in the movies that generally wouldn’t be genuinely possible in real life. Things like drawing a long sword sheathed on your back, gunshots or explosions throwing people across the room or getting that zwing! Sound when drawing a sword from a leather sheath were some of my favourites. It was a pop up story on my Facebook feed, so I unfortunately don’t have a link to share, which sucks because it was a pretty good article. The one thing they brought up that caught my attention was actually something that I’ve written about before: kicks.
Do I study karate? Yes. Yes, I do. Do we practice kicks in karate? Oh, most certainly. But here’s the thing: high-flying or flowery kicks are all but useless in a real fight. Movies and television shows make a pretty good show of having martial artists duke it out with each other and there’s no shortage of kicks and it usually looks all cool and stuff. But all those high-flying kicks can leave you extremely vulnerable and standing on one foot is never a promising endeavour when you’re squaring off against an opponent.
I usually like to think, and I know some of my martial arts counterparts would agree, that any technique has its place. Some techniques are taught and practiced solely for the purpose of increasing flexibility and mobility and to develop that whole thing that if you want to kick to a certain extent, you should train further. But in actual real-world applications, it would never do to try and use a high kick against an opponent.
Not only do high kicks expose your groin and various other areas that one would rather not have struck, even a practitioner who’s trained and or acted certain kicks ad nauseam will find their balance precarious during an actual fight. One can easily make the argument that during training, you’re in a controlled environment where if you do nothing more than block, there are certain safeties in place that’s don’t exist in a real fight. When “fight or flight” kicks in, keeping your balance and composure can be challenging, despite muscle memory.
My style of karate basically includes front kicks, roundhouse kicks and blade kicks with an occasional sprinkling of back kicks. But with the exception of doing it to increase flexibility, all of our kicks are generally focused no higher than the belt line or floating ribs. I’m usually dependent on my hand strikes and blocks, since most real-world scenarios won’t involve a great deal of distance between you and your opponent. And honestly, if there IS that much distance, there would potentially be opportunity for you to simply reposition and walk away. Food for thought… ☯️