Chambering The Perfect Side Piercing Kick
by Stuart Anslow
My instructor (Master David Bryan) had a great way of getting students to try and achieve a good chamber position. He would tell them to try and touch the knee of the kicking leg, to their opposite shoulder. An impossible thing for most to actually achieve, but in trying, it forces the student to chamber nice and high, brings the knee to almost the correct position, whilst helping align both the hip and ankle, as well as maintaining that 45 degree angle - try it!
The foot positions through out the kick - 1. At the start (note, this can turn outwards slightly as we raise the knee). 2. At the chamber position. 3. As we fully extend the kick.
The final part of the kick is the extension itself. If the chamber has been done correctly it will be much easier to extend and fully lock your hips into the technique. From the chamber position, without dropping your knee, simply straighten your leg towards the target, whilst pivoting another 90 degrees on the support foot, again maintaining your Footsword, with your heel higher than your toes. (left pics).
Do not lean back to far as you do this, as apart from being unbalanced, you will actually take power away from the kick - so no more than roughly 45 degrees with your upper body.
The target should be hit whilst there is still a little bend in your kicking leg, allowing you to kick through your target as you lock your leg straight and lock your hips fully into it.
You will notice that from the start to the end of a Side Piercing Kick we have pivoted our support foot almost 180 degrees, so it is facing the opposite way from which we started. This is vital as it is the only way to achieve maximum power as it allows you to fully lock your hips into the technique. It is also vital for correct body alignment, as, though some super flexible students can throw this kick out without locking their hips, look closely and you will see that their body is not aligned properly and would actually have more power if they did, as they are not using their hips as they should.
The Final Bit - The Whole Kick
Remember, for a beginner, junior or anyone struggling with this kick, break it down into the 3 parts and ensure each is executed correctly. Once that is done, work on executing the 3 parts as one complete technique, in a smooth flowing manner. Do not be hasty in trying to execute it too fast - good technique comes first, then speed will come, which in turn will generate power. A poor technique, whether executed fast or slow will always be a poor technique and lack true power.
Common Errors Due To An Incorrect Chamber Position
If the hip and ankle are not aligned properly (as mentioned earlier), without re-adjustment, the kick cannot be executed correctly. If the chamber isn't aligned correctly we are forced to bring our kicking foot round/across (like a Turning kick) as we extend it out. Or, if the chamber wasn't at 45 degrees, we are forced to flick our foot upwards, instead of thrusting outwards as we should (see left pics).
Now, whilst errors may go unnoticed or uncorrected in line work, patterns or even pad work, a poorly chambered Side Piercing Kick is really telling against a live opponent. The difference being that a live opponent actually moves, unlike your ‘imaginary’ targets, and thus the kick needs to be effective, whether at full distance (See left pic) or from any point between the chamber position and the final end of the full extension (even if not at full power), should your opponent close in on you (See right pic) and this will only happen if the hip and ankle are aligned with the target immediately.
If we have chambered incorrectly, for example, with our shin in line with our hip instead of our ankle and the opponent rushes in, he or she can easily jam the kick as we try to throw it out. (See right pics). Or, if we have chambered too vertically, the opponent cannot only jam the kick if they rush in, but will likely topple us over as well. (See pics below).
Other Things To Note
It should be remembered, that throwing this kick (or any technique that locks your joints out), over time, into thin air, at full power, will likely cause your own body a lot of damage in the future, due to hyper-extension of your joints. Always keep a little ‘bend’ in your knee, instead of fully locking out when performing line work or patterns practice. However, when hitting pads, opponents or breaking boards, you can (assuming your distancing is correct), safely execute the kick at full power.