3 Common Kickboxing Mistakes

It takes a long time and a lot of practice to learn to control every part of your body, and use it in a way that is condusive to hard, accurate strikes. While beginners come in with varying physical fitness and experience in martial arts, there are a number of common errors that most beginners make due to inexperience. These are usually quite easy to correct and don't worry - eventually they will come naturally to you!

Striking with the wrong part of the body
This seems to be particularly prevalent with roundhouse kicks - a lot of beginners (especially juniors) tend to kick with the inside of the foot rather than the top, which makes it awkward, risks knee and hip injury and means you can't hit as hard. One of the worst things you can do during a kick is striking with your toes instead of the proper part of your foot - they break very easily.

When you're practicing these techniques, just run through them slowly a few times to get your body used to the correct movements and how you need to lean back to balance, or turn your hip slightly to get your foot into the right position. Your Sensei will always tell you which part of the foot or hand to strike with.

Lowering your guard
Your guard is there to protect you - use it! A lot of beginners (and sometimes more advanced grades) forget to guard their chin - particularly when you have to move the other hand to guard it during strikes from the back arm. One of the easiest ways to knock somebody out is a decent hit to the chin - in a competition, the fight's over. In a streetfight, you don't know what will or won't happen once you're unconscious - just make sure nobody manages to knock you out.

A lot of beginners also forget to protect their ribs during kicks - just because you are striking, it doesn't mean you can't be hit. Protect yourself at all times.

Not using the whole body
You don't just punch with your arm - it would be practically impossible to get a decent amount of force into a punch if you did. You move your body weight, you turn your hips, you push your shoulders into it. A punch actually involves your entire body. Kicks and knee-strikes are the same - you need to push your hips through to extend fully. It can take a while to get used to it.

Breathing: How To

 It's something that's reiterated in the dojo over and over again, and something that's essential to your existence. It seems strange that something so basic can be done wrong. In martial arts, correct breathing is the difference between being winded and not being able to continue fighting, and just having a punch bounce off. In self-defense, not breathing correctly can result in serious injury.

Breathing is something that beginners need to actively control when they are practicing - correct breathing will come naturally to advanced grades who have practised properly during training sessions.

How to breathe
You should breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Ensure that you are not simply breathing with your 'upper lungs' - you need to breathe as deeply as you can to get as much air as possible into your lungs. Ensure that your stomach is moving in and out when you are breathing, and that your ribs move up with you inhale and back down then you exhale. Pay attention to these movements and ensure you are doing this with every breath.

When to breathe
In order to maintain rhythm and ensure that your entire body is united when expressing a technique, you need to exhale when striking. Vocalisations help with this, as you need to exhale sharply to make a noise when striking.

You should apply this concept to all aspects of your training; exhale when performing the harder part of each exercise (i.e. the upwards motion on a push up or squat). This will get your body used to inhaling and exhaling at the right times, and will ensure healthy blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen transfer when exercising or fighting.

Effects of not breathing correctly
Taking a punch to the stomach can wind you if you are not breathing correctly. However, you can seriously injure yourself even if you have not been hit. If people have weak cardiovascular or respiratory systems, and frequently hold their breathe while contracting their abs and diaphragm or exhale sharply while constricting the glottis, they can induce black outs or even strokes. In order to perform techiques safely and effectively, it's essential that you learn to control your breathing.

Thanks to Chi Liu for the image. 

Get More Out of Your Workouts: Perfect Your Technique

A lot of people miss out on getting the full value from their exercises because of their form - a few simple changes to how your do your exercises can increase muscle growth and strength. 

A mistake that a lot of people make is trying to bend their legs to crouch down. Instead, try to imagine sitting down on a chair - keep your shins as vertical as possible, and counter the imbalance by leaning your upper body forwards, but keep your body straight and your abs engaged throughout the exercise. When you come up. pop your hips forwards to complete the exercise. Look straight ahead throughout the exercise.

A lot of people transfer the idea of squats and leaning forward to lunges, which is a mistake. Keep your front heel down, and do not lean your body forwards over your knee. You should not be able to see your front foot. Keep your body straight and vertical, and your abs engaged. Try not to rest your hands on your thigh, and look ahead throughout the exercise. The motion of the back leg should be a controlled bend, not just sagging down.

Push Ups
Instead of simply concentrating in moving up and down, you can improve this exercise by adding a little push to the end to increase the shoulder and back workout. After you've bent your arms, and when you've straightened them back out, try to push your upper back towards the ceiling a little more. Ensure that it is a slow and controlled push. So the movment is not simply up-down, it is up-push further up-down.

For more ways to make your exercise more effective, check out 5 virtually instant ways to improve you workout.

Thank you to Yelkaim for the image.

Photos from ECKA Full Contact Fight Night

There were some fantastic fights at Fight Night on 7th May - spectators were treated to a mixture of ECKA kickboxing, MMA, K1 and boxing, as well as a capoiera demonstration during the interval. A massive congratulations to our sister school in Enfield, who now has their first female full contact champion!

One simple trick to staying on your diet

It's week 4 of the diet, and both I and Jim are probably going to extend it further as it's going so well. I'm in the process of writing an ebook with plenty of recipes and tips on how to follow the diet. If there's one tip I had to give for staying on diets, it would be this: buy your food online.

Meal planning
To ensure that I didn't get sick to death of the food, and that I wasn't constantly nipping to the supermarket, I've had to plan meals for the entire week - shopping online really helps get everything together quickly and easily, and I can look up recipes depending on what was on offer there that week, which also helps with budgeting. Meal planning is a pretty integral part of sticking to any diet - if you fail to do this, you may well end up having to rely on takeaways or grabbing a bite to eat from the local cornershop (which isn't going to stock fresh sandwiches and fruit).

Resisting temptation
This is the biggest reason I tried not to venture into supermarkets this month; it's all to easy to accidentally wander into the biscuit section, or the bakery, or see the offers on the end of the aisles and just 'accidentally' buying it. It sounds odd. but I manage to get a lot of confectionary without meaning to if I'm not concentrating (damn that sweet tooth!). Without the temptation of BOGOF offers, the smell of freshly-baked croissants and the lure of the chocolate section, keeping healthy is a lot easier.

Cutting out additives, simple carbs and adding in more lean meat, fish and fresh fruit/veg/nuts is surprisingly expensive. Online shopping just helps to keep an eye on the price for the weekly shop without having to put too much effort into it.

Thanks to Phenuncle for the image


Stretching is an incredibly important part of exercise, and something that you should do regularly throughout your life as it helps minimise muscle tightening and restricted range of movement as you age. Stretching not only increases your flexibility and reduces the risk of injury - it also reduces muscle tension, helps circulation and increases energy levels.

Always warm up and stretch before undertaking any exercise, but it's also a good idea to stretch regularly even if you are not exercising. You naturally get the urge to stretch in mornings or when you're tired - why not simply do a range of stretches that work your entire body, instead of just your spine?

How to stretch safely
  • Do not bounce in your stretch
  • Make sure that increasing your stretch is a gradual movement
  • Take breaks between stretches; do one stretch, then move to another, and go back to the original one again. You should be able to stretch further than the first time you did the exercise.
  • Exhale when pushing further into the stretch
  • A stretching/burning pain in your muscles is ok, but if you start getting a sharp pain or any pain around your joints, stop immediately
  • Don't force your body to go too far - stretching involves pushing your body a little bit each day. Do not get frustrated and end up injuring yourself. 
Different stretches 

This diagram shows a range of stretches for your whole body.

 1) Chest: Clasp your hands behind your back and hold them to pull your chest apart. Raise your hands up (still clasped) as far as you can.
2) Upper back: Clasp your hands on front of you and keep your arms straight, raise your hands up to chest height and pull your shoulder blades apart.
3) Triceps: bend one arm and put it down the middle of your back. Either push near the elbow (not on) with the other arm, or bring it up the back and try to join your hands.
4) Calves: Stand in the lunge position - instead of bending the back leg, keep it straight with the heel on the floor.
5) Hamstring: Either lie on your back with your legs bend, and raise and straighten one leg, pulling it towards your chest with your arms (keeping it straight), or stay standing and put one straight leg on a chair (heel on the chair) and push down a little).
6) Quads: Stand up and bend one leg - using your hands, pull it up and towards your body. Keep your knees together.If you have balance problems, you can do this lying down.
7) Outer thigh: Lie on your back, with both legs bent and in the air. Cross your legs over, using the upper leg to push the lower leg to the opposite side.
8) Inner thigh: Stand with your legs just over shoulder-width apart. Bring your bodyweight over one foot by bending the leg, which stretches the opposite thigh.
9) Inner thighs: Lie on your back, bend your legs and bring your feet together, letting your legs fall apart. You may want to push a little near your knees (not on)
10) Lower back: Either lie on your back with your legs bent and let your lets fall to one side, and keep your shoulders flat on the floor and point your hands in the opposite direction to your legs, or lie on your back, bend your legs and clasp your hands behind your legs (you can do this with both legs together, or one by one).
11) Torso and quads: Sit up straight with your legs out straight in front of you. Bend one leg and bring it over the other. Look over the other shoulder, and use the opposite arm to the leg push it further across.

Make sure that you stretch both sides equally, and do not push on joints.

Do you have any other stretches that you do regularly?

Photos from the ECKA Tipton Open Tournament

A huge congratulations to Isabella, Sezer and Archi, who took home first, second and third places in light and semi-contact fights this weekend.

Here are some photos of the action: