Sunday, May 13, 2012

540-degree reverse hook kick

While roaming online martial-arts sites recently I came across an excellent demonstration of a 540-degree reverse hook kick, performed by Master S.J. Woo.  Master Woo has a long list of video tutorials on YouTube, and I highly recommend that you check them out sometime.  His lessons range from the basic -- how to punch, how to block, and such -- to the highly advanced.  The 540-degree reverse hook kick is definitely one of the latter.
     For those of you who have never seen, much less attempted, a 540 reverse hook kick, here's a simple plain-English description.  You spin your body 180 degrees toward your opponent, thereby generating momentum.  As you complete the 180, you leap high into the air and execute a 360-spinning kick to the opponent's face.  And, yes, Master Woo makes it look easy.
     Since I'm the author of "Seniors in the Martial Arts," you have probably figured out that I'm a certified senior -- a few weeks away from 66, according to my Medicare card.  What you may not know is what would happen if I attempted a 540-degree reverse hook kick.  Basically I would be fine with the 180-degree spin, which I routinely use for spinning back kicks on my kicking dummy.  But then it would get tricky.  The part about leaping high in the air is problematic for seniors who, like me, have become what I suppose we could call "gravity challenged."  Although I was a high jumper on my high school track team about 50 years ago, I now consider "a jump" to be anything that gets me high enough off the ground to allow a thin sheet of paper to slide between my feet and the floor.
     My "high into the air" isn't the same as Master Woo's.  Thus I would never complete the 360-degree airborne spinning kick.  Instead, I would would hit the ground somewhere in the middle of the kick, and that's when I would begin the countdown to my trip to the local hospital's emergency room.  There's simply no way of knowing exactly how many muscles I'd tear or how many body parts I would lose before crashing in mid-kick.
     But since I have no plans to attempt this particular kick anytime soon, here's the good news: senior martial artists can be highly successful when it comes to defending themselves and staying in shape even if we can't execute the same techniques that we were able to manage 30 or 40 years ago.  When it comes to self-defense, the most important techniques are strong blocks, a punishing groin-high front snap kick, and powerful punches or hand strikes.  You won't win a sparring tournament with this small arsenal of techniques, but you can definitely put down an attacker.  And in terms of staying fit, every element of your martial-arts workout -- stretching, punching, kicking, practicing forms, and sparring -- will do more for your mind and body than, say, logging 30 minutes on an exercise bike.
     With age comes wisdom, and it's wise for a senior martial artist to recognize that he or she should resist the temptation to play at being 20 or 30.  It was great to be there, but that was then . . . and this is now.  Whether you're 50, 60, 70, or older, your goal as a martial artist never changes: do all you can with what you've got.  If you just do that, you'll always get back more than you put in.  Martial-arts training is without question one of the best investments of time and energy you'll ever make.
    

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Many thanks for sharing your comments with Seniors in the Martial Arts. Best wishes for continued success with your training.

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