Andy Melville, achieves his 1st Dan in Kickboxing

The long journey and losing the door on basic training has been achieved my Andy Melville of the South West Kickboxing Academy (SWKA). Andy has been training with the SWKA for 3.5-4 years and finally hit the level where he has mastered the basics and now starts on the path of his real learning. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve the level of 1st Dan in any Martial Art.

They say out of every 10,000 people who take up Martial Arts only 10 people get to 1st Dan. It is also a very special achievement for the SWKA club and head coach 4th Dan Steve Lilley. As it is Steve’s and the clubs first ever student in its 8.5 year history, that they have taken a student who hasn’t transferred in from another club and reached the level of 1st Dan.

Andy’s grading took place up at South West kickboxing, where 2nd Dan Mike Rowling successfully passed his 3rd Dan in kickboxing in a joint session between the 2 Martial Arts Clubs, which have a long history together between head coaches 4th Dan Steve Lilley and 3rd Dan Mike Rowling, going back to 2003/04 when Steve and Mike both trained as part of Kicksport UK. Gareth Banner-Taylor also successfully passed his 1st Dan to.

Anyone wishing to take up kickboxing, or has been inspired by Andy’s achievements, they should contact Steve on 0777386358, email, or visit the SWKA website for more details.

July Student of the Month 2015

Our winner of the July 2015 student of the month is our youngest ever student. Courtney Pollard, won the Student of the Month for July, having only just started Kickboxing at the End of June/early July.

Courtney always trains with a smile on her face, which is great to see, she listens well and follows instructions well. She doesn’t get phased by training with people older and bigger than her. She’s always full of enthusiasm for training. All these reasons are why she won student of the month. Were hoping she carries on like this with the rest of her kickboxing training. She’s progressing well like her older brothers Nathan and Joshua, and at the SWKA were looking forward to seeing how they all progress.

What makes a Black Belt or great Black Belt in Martial Arts

A Black belt in Martial Arts is seen by most people as a pinnacle of their time in Martial Arts and a High achievement. For some it is the top level you can achieve but also the time when you stop learning. However, meet any real black belt and they will tell you they have only just started to learn, just because you have learnt all the moves and show some real skill, and now must learn how to adapt your skills, how best to utilise them but also learning when they will and won’t work.

Patience is something it takes not just too get to get your black belt. It takes many years to get your black belt, but also patient is required to learn and start to master a number of kicks and combinations which you will learn. However, the patient is not just in yourself but also that of having patience with others. For example your training partners holding the pads for you, and with others who struggle to pick up skills when learning or to carry out activities.

Attitude of a black belt is very important, a black belt needs to have patients, but also be willing to help others when they are struggling and offer to help when they see newer students struggling. It’s also about following instructions from their instructor, sensei or master, in classes, rather than doing their own thing, therefore, setting a positive example to others in the club. The attitude is also about how they commit to training, by training regularly but also helping other, by putting them before themselves.

Commitment to the cause is also a key aspect, black belts will train regularly when they can, when you run a club it can be difficult to do train, but when your training for your black belt you should be looking for every opportunity to learn from your instructor, Sensei or master to ensure you will be ready for your black belt grading. Whether this is in class or in private sessions this is important to ensure you get all the input you need and ensure you are properly prepared.

Dedication to the art, which is about making sure you master the basics and not taking on to many arts in one go. When your start learning to many arts in one go without mastering anything, everything gets diluted, and they your performance drops.

Putting others before yourself is important, because by the time you are about to reach your black belt or reached it you should know you’re only as good as your training partner. If you don’t help them improve you will stagnate and head backwards. But also if you don’t look after your partner you won’t have anyone wanting or willing to work with you in class. Theirs’s no point in complaining about the standard of others if you’re not willing to help improve those around you and challenge them to become better.

Seeking perfection is about always analysing what you’re learning and working out when it would be practical and when it would not be. Therefore, being able to work out how to tweak things to improve it and what you could do instead. It’s also about constantly setting yourself little challenges to improve yourself, whether it’s kicking a bit higher, jumping higher or not getting hit as much during sparring or a fight.

Self-learning is about trying to identify for yourself were your weaknesses are, is it fitness, if so do you spend time away from your club working on this? Do you identify where you feel your weak, or ask your instructor, sensei or master how can I be better and then follow up on it.

As you can see there are many things to consider when you want to achieve your black belt or get through of as a great black belt by others. Why not find one or 2 black belts whom you look up to and watch the little things they do, and the way they are with others, which may improve yourself as a martial artist.

Why take up Kickboxing

Kickboxing is in my mind a mix of boxing, muai-thai and karate, which started to become to people’s attention during the 1980’s. It mixes the hand skills of boxers, with kicks of Karate but without the more static positioning and often used point scoring by being based on continuous fighting in bouts. With muai-thai skills, without the use of knees, and elbows as strikes.

There are different formats of kickboxing, and when you look at the sparing or fight components in points, semi contact, and semi heavy or full contact. Different people depending on what they want to get out of their kickboxing or their reasons behind taking up of the martial art. Some people are not worried about getting hurt or being knocked out, but there are also those who don’t want to risk concussion, black eyes and injuries which choose to participate in light contact levels of the martial art.

Kickboxing is a great way to improve flexibility, which can lead onto postural changes. Flexibility training is something that instructors take seriously as it helps prevent injury, but also helps participates to be able to kick higher. As the individual becomes more flexible then tight muscles can be lengthened, which can help correct posture.

It helps to improve fitness and change your body shape. Kickboxing is a high energy activity, utilising all of the body’s muscles. Due to it being high energy it helps increase your energy expenditure will help you lose body fat you may be struggling to lose.

Learning self -confidence and respect, but also for others, due to the team work required to look after your partner in class but also seeing improvements in your kicks, and belt progression.

Make new friends, you will meet many people through martial arts not just in the class that you attend but also at seminars and in competition if you decide to compete. You will work with different people in each class, which will improve your self-confidence.

Learning self-defence, by learning how to protect yourself should someone attack you, but also improve your awareness of what’s going on around you to help you prevent putting yourself in a position where you might be at risk.

So having gone through what kickboxing is and its many benefits why not come down and join us in one of our classes. Were a friendly group and everyone’s welcome, so what have you got to lose?

How to kick higher

We all stand and admire those martial art pictures when people kick high. Kicking high takes time and commitment, but also an understanding of how to position the body, to achieve those high kicks, so I have put some tips to help you start to achieve head height kicks.

Firstly spend time every day working on flexibility, whether it is one or two sessions a day. These sessions only need to be 5-10 minutes in length.  To improve your flexibility, you need to be holding stretches for about 1 minute, whether this stretch is held for 1 minute or in short time periods building up to a 1 minute time period such as 3x 20 seconds, etc.

The muscle groups to work on are hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thigh. The quads, the muscles on the front of the thigh. Hip flexors, the muscles which work on the front of the hip. Finally the adductor muscles which work on pulling the legs together. The reason behind the hip adductors is the tighter they are the smaller the angle will be between the 2 legs, the more flexible you are here, the more likely you are able to do the splits.

A key issue I see with a lot of kickboxing students is the knee. Your probably thinking why the knee, so I will explain. There the knee points the toes and foot will go. I see a lot of students lifting the leg pointing the knee down and then struggling to kick high. However, when you point the knee upwards then the toes strike where the knee cap is pointing.

The next issue is balance; the better you are on one leg the higher you will be able to kick. When I talk about balance and being on one leg, it is the ability to transfer your weight around when you try and increase the height of the kick. It you can’t transfer your weight but stay on one leg as you lift your leg higher.

The final one is body position, most students when trying to kick high try and keep their body up right or they try and curl up into a small position which affects kick height. So instead when kicking keep the body straight and lean over, this is where balance and your ability to transfer your body weight around without falling over becomes important.

So above is a number of top tips to increase the height of your leg kicks. So when you train try and consider and act out a number of the points above and you will soon be kicking head height if not higher.