Get A Kick Out Of This Story

Roy Harris coup de pied basHaving been involved in a variety of martial art kicking styles since the middle 1980’s, one of my favorite kicks from Boxe Française Savate is “Le coup de pied bas.” It is a favorite because it is simple, direct, efficient and (with a hard-sole shoe) it is very painful. 

The Coup de pied bas, the Fouette and the “Oblique kick” from Pananjakman are – in my opinion – the three best all-around kicks for keeping punches away from the face. So, I have spent a few hundred hours training to develop these three kicks!

Below is an interesting story of an impromptu sparring match back in the early 2000’s. Here is how it happened:

While cleaning my academy one day, an individual walked into the training area and told me he didn’t think the Jeet Kune Do style of fighting was very effective. Long story short, he wanted to spar with me and find out. I was in an obliging mood, so I told him to sign a waiver, glove up and get ready to spar. I set the timer on 3 minutes, we touched gloves and began.

Within the first few seconds, I slipped, leaned, ducked and fired up his lead shin with coup de pied bas and oblique kick. I also kicked the inside of his lead leg thigh. I kept my kicks low and compact while he tried to swing for my head and belly.

At the end of our two rounds of sparring, I asked him what he thought. He said, “Your kicks aren’t very powerful. They didn’t hurt that much.

I replied, “I wasn’t trying to hurt you because that might cause a lawsuit. Instead, I wanted you to experience that no matter whether you kicked, punched or tried to tackle me you could stop me from kicking your shin and the inside of your thigh.

He countered, “Yeah, but your kicks didn’t hurt!

I countered by saying, “You don’t understand. My kicks with my toes to the inside of your thigh were intentional. I purposely kicked your thigh because I didn’t want to hurt you by kicking you in the groin. And, I’m wearing wrestling shoes. So, my kicks to your shin do not have the same effect as a normal pair of hard-sole shoes. If you’d like, we can spar again. I can put on my normal pair of shoes, repeatedly kick you in the groin, make your shins bleed and hyperextend your knee if you like!

He replied, “Oh…ok. I didn’t know that. Thanks for not kicking my balls or jacking up my knee!

I finished by saying this: “Look! The sportive aspects of our training in Jeet Kune Do are supposed to teach students how to control distance, how to raise their level of awareness to all that is happening around them as well as teach them how to control their emotions. So, when we train and kick lightly, smile and sweat, it is a safe training method that can trained repeatedly without anyone having to go to the hospital. When we put on protective gear and spar harder, we are moving a little bit closer to reality. And when we do scenario-based training with protective gear, we are inching even closer to reality. Does that make sense?

He replied, “Yes!

I continued by saying, “Here is a truth in Jeet Kune Do training that you may not have heard before or may not have been ’emphasized’ to you:

Good Jeet Kune Do instruction emphasizes the importance of intercepting an attack – rather than waiting for it to mature and then having to neutralize all of power that has built up! And, in order to develop the ability to intercept, a specific progression in the training methods must be employed.

What you felt in our sparring match today was an important concept my first Jeet Kune Do / Kali – Sifu Rick Faye – instructor taught me: It’s called,  ‘Injure to degree.’ What this concept means is this: As a practitioner – and especially as an instructor – I must take the time to develop the skill sets so when I spar I can injure the person in front of my to varying degrees. For example, in our sparring match today, because I didn’t want to hurt you I chose to just touch you with my toes and the inside edge of my heel on each kick. I did so because I wanted you to feel that no matter what you did I could find a way to kick your shin and your groin. Now, had you turned things up and gone crazy with me, I would have kick you in the groin or kicked your shin hard and made it bleed. But because you kept things calm, I chose to just touch you.

What are your thoughts now?

He replied by saying, “When can I sign up?

So, I wrote all of this to make two points:

1. Being effective in fighting – whether it’s fun kickboxing or street fighting – is not about learning as many techniques as possible. Rather, it is about having a handful of techniques that you can perform well under stress!

2. There is a lot to the world of low line kicking. I highly recommend getting with an experienced instructor and learning how to kick between the groin and the ankle – or better yet (and more for the grapplers of this world), kicking between the knee and the ankle.

Make sense?

Good training to you,

Roy Harris

P.S. If you have comments about this article, please feel free to email me here!

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