When learning 52 Blocks kicks, start by identifying when the kick would be used (to fend off an attacker who is closing distance, for example). Watch for proper foot positioning. Use the correct part of your foot both when impacting and when kicking the air. When learning the front kick, align your foot with your ankle and curl your toes back. You can practice foot alignment by imagining that you are walking in high-heeled shoes. Get up on the balls of your feet until your instep is aligned with your shinbone. When learning the 52 Blocks version of the roundhouse kick, tuck your toes tightly under with your instep like a springboard. (That is, unless you learn the roundhouse kick with the ball of the foot, in which case your toes should be curled back.) When learning the side kick, curl your toes back and extend the heel of your foot toward the target. Correct foot positioning for the side kick can also be practiced lying on your side on the floor. This training exercise allows you to work on body mechanics without having to concentrate on maintaining balance. Note that many martial arts also teach the knife-edge side kick.

Exercise 1—Targets and Follow-Ups If you lower your hands as a counterweight to balance when kicking, how does it affect your ability to protect your head? Experiment with different 52 Blocks hand positions when kicking and note the benefits and drawbacks of each. Identify targets for the front kick and determine your opponent’s expected reaction. If the kick pushes him back, what kinds of follow-up techniques will you use? If the kick makes him bend forward, how can you take advantage of the situation? What benefits can be gained by kicking an opponent who is on the defensive, such as when he is blocking or stepping back?

Exercise 2—Distance What benefits in distance and reach do you gain by throwing alternating kicks? When closing distance with a kick, how do you prevent your opponent from taking advantage of your advance? What techniques can he use against you? Some kicks can be combined better than others. These include kicks thrown with alternating legs, or kicks that follow the same direction. Identify kicks that you can throw naturally in combinations of three or four. Experiment with keeping your opponent at bay with a kick. Which types of kicks would best lend themselves to this exercise? Why? If you land the kick and your opponent gets knocked back, what type of move would you use next?

Exercise 3—Power Name some situations where you would impact with the knife edge of your foot versus the heel when throwing the 52 Blocks side kick. Which kick is quicker? More powerful? Why? Explore how to close distance with the side kick. Which is faster: stepping with your lead foot first, or stepping with your rear foot first? Why? When throwing multiple kicks with the same leg and planting the foot between each kick, what are the benefits and drawbacks in speed, power and balance? Name some targets and your opponent’s expected reaction to a multiple kick combination.

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