“Hands up, baby hands up!” what a fun song from Ottawan in 1981, but we are not here to dance just now, we are here to train.
This particular training method is one I have used more than once and only came to light recently, after I began training in Taekwondo in order to work on my kicks. What I discovered is as I was focusing on my technique with my kicking, my hands would slowly creep down. Inside this bothered me as I am or at least try to be an aware person. We are all human and learning holds no bounds as I was been reminded…so it was game on and I armed myself with a tea towel!
Now, I am epic at whipping flies in the kitchen or whipping family members too but this time it’s going around my neck. Here’s what we will do using a tea towel or any towel really for that matter.
The first drill is to grasp the towel with both hands in a basic guard position, note that its natural to hang onto the towel and let your elbows flare out a bit and you can polish this up after. Don’t pull down too much as you don’t want strain on the back of your neck. The key is to grasp the towel lightly and mindful in your hand position as you kick. At first you can just walk around your home or garden or do this whilst cooking, but don’t pop the shops okay. Practice your stance or footwork before moving onto kicks. I would suggest working some knees at first to get used to your balancing without using your arms, remember to some advanced martial artists reading this, this is aimed at starters too away from class. I taught myself this very method although I can’t recall where I picked it up from but I’m sure some of you will recognize it. After you can execute some knees and keep your guard where you want it and then move onto some low kicks. Any kicks you like remember this is about you and no one else trying to rule you. Again I’ve chosen a low sidekick, and as before you can give attention to your foot positioning after. Practice in left and right stances because we usually have an arm that is stronger, so get them both used to being upfront and guarding.
Eventually you can train higher kicks and I love the feel of that tea towel on them high kicks, but above all be careful. Of course lose your towel eventually and hold on to your Gi or neck of your top, before you can hold a guard while performing any kick or movement. If you’re feeling brave, Nunchakus can be used an advanced drill instead of a towel and blend really well into a weapons workout of Budo…and yes be mindful of the chain on your neck. I’ve used all sorts over the years such as wrist weights, dumbbells and weighted rings to train the punching guard including resistant bands, all can help you too and strengthen your deltoids. I wouldn’t recommend trying the spinning kicks while anything is around your neck, just in case you strangle yourself and burn your cooking. You still want plenty of space to be able to move freely and safely.
There is a dual purpose to this drill, you can actually use it to give your hands a rest after a punching workout. This is great as now you can just concentrate on your kicks knowing your hands are chilling out not in the way. I know of some people who clasp their hands behind their backs to kick. Even seen some placing their hands on their head a bit like the Keysi Fighting Method.
“We, like martial art, are like a mirror and need polishing daily so we can be seen clear.”
The good thing about this simple method is that it can simply be revisited over and over if need be, and let’s not forget to have fun in training, and to make the most out of your free time even if that means doing some random acts to improve yourself on any level. I myself for one, have found that during solo training things have a habit of coming out in the wash. By that I mean in class you are being taught and showed a way, in class you might not get it or there is something eating away at you that you just cannot put your finger pointing on? I have always and I mean always worked it out in private, it all irons out and do you know why that is? Your body is key way beyond all the expert advice and guidance, even this column you’re reading now is being absorbed while you’re relaxed? Think about it, in school you produce your creative work alone usually when you relate to the inner YOU for answers. Bit comparable to shadow kickboxing, working yourself out by moving through space and time. I’m not saying you should not receive your proper training and go around messing about with crazy ideas, no, you get your external training through others and don’t neglect yourself over class mates or teachers. Remember to learn we seem to follow, but some just keep following and yes they become great but you are now a copy of them or their way or path. Just look at the potency and ability of Bruce Lee who in fact ironed many creases out in private. You must have that third eye though to realise you will need advice and we can’t do it all without some help. Combine all minds you learn from within just like we all absorb parts of others energy no longer with us.
You should not feel awkward wanting to be your own person, and I’m not trying to be the next coming Jesus Christ or just another finger pointer. Take it from a real life person who has created themselves and sharing it now with you. You are real, what you see and feel and do is real. Look around next time you’re at training and ask yourself…
Do they read as much as you about the art and history or research the anatomy of the human body, or are they just good at the syllabus?
Do they train at home or do anything extra that may help them or do they just train for two hours per week?
(Here’s a good one) Can you relate to them as a person outside of martial art?
Finally I’d like us to recap and now practice all your kicks in front of a mirror and on purpose check my photos…
Are your elbows still flaring out like mine are?
Could you have your hands closer to your chin and maybe pivot your supporting foot more?
Finally you should have attained more of a fun habit and an aid to helping your own development in the martial arts, maybe sharing it with your class mates and who knows…maybe you’ll be the one who knocks?