After 45 minutes or so of sparring with Den yesterday he finally broke down for me what I was doing wrong with my attempts to land kicks on him. (I landed maybe 5 in that time, although I was able to affect him with my punches when I charged in with flurries; I’m much more comfortable with punches because of my balance, I think.)
Den has told me before to shorten my kick because the loping round kick is too slow and easy to see coming, so he just moves out of the way of the kick and then counters or kicks my standing leg out from under me. The problem I have with even getting myself to do this shortened kick is that you have to be closer to your target for it to land in the first place. Closing distance has been a focal point in my training for the past month and I’ve been using deep steps or even hopping in on my back foot to cover that distance. The ladies I’m fighting out here basically stay away from me and counter, so covering distance on my part is a necessary strategy to be able to score any points and pressure my opponents.
What Den shows in this clip is an incredibly simple and beautiful way to cover distance without really stepping far or even crossing much ground at all. It’s in his hips – no surprise there for anyone who has paid attention to my training with Master K over the years – and how he moves them forward, getting them in front of his standing leg (and kicking leg) and creating a whip with the kicking leg. He shows how I’m kicking, which is basically turning on one spot and all the opponent has to do is move a few inches. Then he shows how to move the hips forward with the kick so that the leg has reach that can be negotiated based on where the opponent goes. He still pivots on his standing leg and turns his heel almost completely 180 degrees, but he remains totally balanced and in control of the kick. It’s amazing, really.