Does age affect kicking ability and flexibility

Discussion in 'General Taekwondo Discussions' started by james driscoll, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. I am 37 years old now and taekwondo has been my biggest challenge yet.......i practice everyday and go to class 4 hours per week and 1 hour a week for circuits....i practice with a chair when doing push kicks and roundhouse and back kicks and my hips just dont wanna do it!........can age be a problem or can i reach that stage of very high kicks and flexibility.....i always fall over when doing the spinning back kick.....cheers.......i want to participate in tournaments.
  3. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member

    One, age does affect flexiblity and speed, but it does not mean you cannot attain it. I am 45 and returned to martial arts (Dec 1, 2012) after 12 years. My flexibility is better than when I was younger. A limitation some do not think of is the hip structure. You may never be able to attain full flexibility. Slow, dynamic kicking will be best. Static stretching (splits, etc) are for the end of a workout, not before, Youtube Bill Supperfoot Wallace stretching and Elastic Steel Stretching. Watch all of those videos and come back with what little questions they will leave you with.
  4. lynM

    lynM Member

    I started TKD at 36 and was not particularly active since college. How strong is your core and general balance? Being comfortable with balance and being able to rotate on the ball of your foot is what helps me to make the high kicks. Keeping a strong core with help with balance too.
  5. Tom.D

    Tom.D Active Member

    Heya James, pleasure meeting you. I'm also 37 and am only at 9'th Kup so far, and originally found the same problem as you, but from my own experience of re-joining TKD in over 25 years, what I have personally found was my stances were sloppy and also, pivoting on the balls of the feet was another obstacle because I was pivoting on one of my left heel, instead of on my toes( that I'm still working on, but improving with over time). I know there is load of videos on youtube that you can study, but what I have found the best trainer was a skipping rope. It may sound stupid, but there is nothing better than a skipping rope to keep you on your toes :D. Another thing I found was, when performing chest to head high kicks, I was trying to stand almost upright, putting more pressure on my lower body, but have now began to grasp the concept, the higher I want to kick, the more you lean away( like a counterbalance) and if you're still having trouble balancing, then throw a punch parallel with your kicking leg, and you will then notice you will be more steady on your standing leg. Another great exercise is performing bending ready stance A( I'm not sure if that is used in WTF, but look it up online) with both legs as it will also be of great benefit to your balance, pivot and strikes :D . I personally feel age is never an issue, but a challenge, but with learning the proper techniques, TKD does become a much easier art to learn. best regards, Tom
  6. John Hulslander

    John Hulslander Active Member

    I am not familiar with Wallace's flexibility theories.
    I am familiar with Kurz's.

    Thomas Kurz is an MD first and a martial artist. He used to have a regular piece in the TKD times magazine.

    His belief is that flexibility is attained not so much through stretching as building strength. He uses stretching as part of his program, but it isn't the most important part.

    He also stresses using dynamic vs static stretching at strategic parts of workout.

    The thing is that most of these methods require time. There is always a cost, and time is most often it. Not only that, but as you get older, you require more time to maintain good physical condition, with the added benefit of needing more time to recover.
    lynM and canadiankyosa like this.
  7. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member

    I cannot find flaws in any of the above. Since I came back to training, my stances and kicks are better than 11+ years ago. In Stretching Scientifically (video), Kurz says an individual may obtain full splits in 6 months if applied diligently each day. I am starting to believe it (when the time and effort is made). Following the three individuals mentioned, I do light, cold stretching while watching tv or any other time I am doing something not requiring movement.

    For Original Poster:

    Another very important thing to note about stretching: do exercises (with or w/o "weights") to evenly strengthen the aductors, abductors, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back/abdomen/obliques, etc so that the joints stay strong for healthy skeletal support. A note: situps are frowned upon. Do crunches for the abdomen and lower back. Situps work the hip flexors more than anything.
  8. Gazzer

    Gazzer Active Member

    I started when I was 37-38 and yer its hard but it all takes time, I think getting the stances right is the main thing in not falling over and not hurting your self (hips) but honestly if you think you are gonna get really flexible and all those high kicks are going to be easy...... then forget that idea.

    Just keep training and keep stretching as best as you can do, if you push it to hard you end up injuring your self and then you will probably want to give up :(
    In the one step and two step sparring, if there is supposed to be a kick to the head I don't do it, I cant, I was told its not important, just do something else :)

    As I said, keep training, dont give up and your stances will improve.
  9. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member

    Many trainers abhor skipping ropes and riding bicycle for martial arts training. The reasoning is that you do not use the full range of motion for the muscle and that tends to actually make stretching much more difficult for a martial artists because the exercise is shortening the muscles you are intending on stretching. Jogging and, especially, slow/fast kicking, slow stance movements with no attention to the hand motions are good for excellent balance and toe pivoting (depending on when the occurrence is because it was not stated).

    On high kicking, start as high as you can kick 8-12 times slowly without losing balance. I suggest knee to waist level first. When you can do this over and over, go a couple inches higher and work your way up. Also, DO NOT lean back on any kick. It will knock you centre of gravity and balance off. Also, when kicking, there will be a tendency to bounce off of your target when leaning over as power is lost.
    lynM likes this.
  10. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member

    You got it. Go to your ability, not what is expected from a "perfect" martial artist standpoint. Kick as high as you can while keeping proper form. Remember that you can practice 10o kicks 1000 times or 1 kick a thousand times, but make sure the 1 kick is done as close to perfect as possible. Otherwise, you will be wasting time practicing something improperly.
  11. Gazzer

    Gazzer Active Member

    Funny, it seems to be happening a lot but people are answering this (and other) questions on facebook.... not on the forums.
  12. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say:

    Try the high kicks.

    By that, I don't mean sacrifice technique for height. I mean kick as high as you comfortably can, maintaining the correct form and posture. The attitude of insisting on continuous tiny (almost imperceptible but you can feel it) increments of improvement is very important. Measure your progress in weeks, not hours.

    Practice slow kicking, it will build balance, hip flexor and core strength, and will force you to focus on operating only the muscles that go into lifting the kick.

    For us mid-30's people, often perceived lack of flexibility is caused by overall tension as we try too hard.

    Focus on lifting your leg using only the muscles required to lift, and keeping the inner muscles relaxed. This takes practice.

    Also, be aware that the angle that your pelvis forms with the thigh of your standing leg is a major factor in how 'open' the kicking hip will be. Aim to lift the kicking hip socket high if you want to kick high. I see a lot of people trying to kick high with only just more than their normal standing angle between the standing leg and the pelvis, and they wonder why they can't get above chest height.

    Be aware of the effect that hamstring inflexibility has on your ability to tilt your pelvis forwards. Don't just aim to develop flexibility in one direction. Aim to strengthen everything.
  13. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member

    As a footnote here, watch any instructional videos of kicking by Superfoot Wallace. He has great examples of how to stretch, plus how chamber and execute slow and fast kicks. He did not have huge, muscular legs, but he had the core strength, speed, and power. Take his tips to heart with Tom Kurz and you can have flexibility in 6 months, if your physiology favours you. 6 months at 45 years of age and I have added. at least, an inch a month more to my flexibility. And that is cold stretching (while doing things like watching tv). If I was really warmed up, my muscles would be much more pliable and I would have improved 2-3 times as fast. Cold stretching is okay to do, but do it very slowly, carefully, and the stretch will not cause any harm.

    Keep in mind that to get the knee high and tucked in for a side moving kick (round, hook, side, etc), the main muscle to stretch for chambering are the glutes, not the quads (same as the front directional kicks such as crescent, axe, etc (and the hamstrings here)).
  14. Blue_Knight

    Blue_Knight Active Member

    Age is never an obstacle. Only physical injury and improper stretching/conditioning will hinder flexibility. If you are a beginner student (or just getting back into training) be patient and give it time. Anyone can achieve flexibility to the point of doing the splits in time with correct training. The body is designed to adapt, grow and stretch to its daily use - - regardless of age.

    Both static and dynamic stretching are important, and I recommend doing small segments of each at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of each work out session. Your balance on your spin kicks will come with time, and proper instruction from your teacher.
    Leaning your body up to 90 degrees during kicking when you are not yet flexible is perfectly acceptable. You will be able to keep upright more as you gain both flexibility and strength in each of the key muscle groups. Kicking low (knee to abdomen) in the beginning is fine, and training with placing hands on support and leaning to get kicks head level will help.

    Don’t push too fast, but make small, incremental progress weekly. Ask your instructor for guidance.

    Blue Knight
  15. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member

    I could not do a sidekick above the knees ever. Since I have come back after 11 years, I have been stretching, It took me under 2 month to be able to kick with proper form at waist level and not allowing to torso to lean more than about 15 degrees back (it strengthens the obliques and adds power) and I could never accomplish that in my early 30s as easily. A note is that the body is not kept up by leg and hip strength, but by the obliques and abs. If you work the kicking stretches, the obliques will not prevent the kicks from going higher.

    Original poster:
    I would suggest watching the prior videos I mentioned. Another one that is very, very good is Taekwondo - revolution of kicking. These go into jumping kicks and why it is important not to allow the trailing leg to hang down like most kicking "masters" do. The things they do not mention as a reason for tucking the leg: it blocks the groin and prevents sweeping the leg.
  16. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    I think it was Steve Maxwell (Former BJJ world champion and current world class strength and conditioning expert) that said we do not become less flexible because we are old, we become old because we are less flexible.
  17. Blue_Knight

    Blue_Knight Active Member

    This is true - however you have to be careful you don't tuck the trailing leg so fast and tight that you kick yourself in the groin! :eek: :D
  18. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member


    Well, I have seen black belts of all almost all levels kick themselves with many of the related front-directed kicks (crescent, etc) and did not understand why. :)
  19. John Hulslander

    John Hulslander Active Member

    One of my Third Dans kneed herself in the head as a ninth gup while doing a front kick. That was actually kind of awesome.
  20. canadiankyosa

    canadiankyosa Active Member

    That is exactly what I was referring to. Then, they wonder what happened (scrunching up and on ball of a foot to kick highe).
  21. Ivor

    Ivor Member

    I'm 45, been training since i was 18, i've got to 4th Dan now and still dont have what i consider as satisfactory flexibility - i'm about 1 foot off the floor in the box splits and 6 inches off in front splits. at some point you will reach the limit of your flexibility, i think this will be related to your lifestyle early on, i have a young student who plays a lot of football, cycles and runs alot, but his flexibility is absolutely awful and just doesnt show any improvement at all no matter what we do!

    your balance is the issue with the spinning kicks (yeah i know you worked that one out already - my daughter would tell me "No Sh1t Sherlock!" if i said that to her), there are a number of ways to improve that;
    1. try keeping your core more upright and the arms in close - both common causes of the problem.
    2. perform the kick slower to practice the technique and sharpen it.
    3. stand on one leg with the knee flexed, chamber the other leg, shut your eyes and hold the position for 10 seconds, then swap sides.
    4. shut your eyes and slowly move your head to the limit of its extension in each direction and hold for 10 seconds (you may feel a momentary dizzy sensation - this will indicate the problem is here
    your balance mechanism is in your inner ear, shutting your eyes whilst moving helps the brain to work out your position in space from your inner ear without the aid of sight, i know it sounds nonsense (it did when the Physio told me to do it!) but it does actually help over time (the doctor also had my wife doing number 4 because she had a serious inner ear infection that affected her balance for years).

Share This Page