SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

The Hook Kick

March 25th, 2022
How to throw a basic hook kick and one drill to help.

Learning to kick is a daunting skill in martial arts, particularly if you’re not a young and limber child. Like most of the work to be done in training, it should be approached with the long game in mind. Take your time. Learn your basic kicks before you move on to the fancy stuff. Kick low with accuracy and strength before you bother messing with head kicks.

With all that preamble, what if you want to learn a hook kick? Well, you should probably already be somewhat proficient with the front, side, and roundhouse kick before you venture near the hook kick. This doesn’t mean you need perfection in those other kicks first, no way! Perfect is the enemy of the good. Don’t wait until you’ve “mastered” a skill to move on to the next one because if you do that, you’ll never move on. Instead, press gently at the margins of your competency.

The hook kick is basically a side kick that is thrown about 45 degrees off target and then pulled through at the hip. The big thing to avoid is simply “flippering” the shin. This is what happens when you try to kick too high too soon. Watch the video for the “wall” drill and practice kicking low for a few weeks until you feel comfortable, then gradually lift it up.

Good luck on your kick journey, and if you get past this one, it’s onward to the spin hook kick! Fun times.

Stringing Together Hang Power Cleans

March 4th, 2022
Stringing together hang power cleans for CrossFit

If you find yourself doing a workout that calls for hang power cleans or hang power snatches, check out the downward path of your barbell. Is it close to your body? Does it glide smoothly back down to the hang position?

Odds are pretty high that if you’ve never drilled multiple reps of your hang movements with smoothness in mind, you’re probably curving the bar away from yourself on the way down, smacking your thighs, and wasting precious seconds.

Some folks will claim that the bar is too heavy for them to have a smooth downward bar path. My polite answer is that if you can’t achieve a smooth downward bar path, then the weight needs to drop down until you can.

Watch the video. Get smooth.

The Shoulder Roll

February 27th, 2022
3 different ways to learn the shoulder roll

If you’re planning on learning martial arts, you’ll want to know how to fall and roll safely. Even if you’re not doing a grappling or throwing focused martial art, at some point, you’ll throw a high kick and fall, or someone will hit you and knock you over. It happens. Like all things, it’s better to have prepared in advance rather than face the situation with no idea how to keep yourself safe.
The shoulder roll is, in my opinion, the easiest entry point when it comes to learning how to tumble safely. Watch the video and see which, if any, of the three rolls comes easiest to you. If none of them are easy, pick the least difficult one.

The Lead Hook

February 12th, 2022

The lead hand hook is tough to learn for a lot of reasons, but the piece that seems to burn most beginners is the pivot. To generate the most power, it is important to shift your weight from the front foot to the rear foot as you throw the punch. The most efficient way to do this is to pivot your feet. Learning the strike from stationary helps. Start with the majority of your weight on your flat front foot. Be up on the ball of your back foot. Then, as you punch, pivot. After striking, you should be up on the ball of the front foot and flat on your back foot. Practice this a ton from stationary first, and then when you feel like you’ve got it, add in some footwork.


An Introduction to Falling

January 30th, 2022
How to fall safely

Falling is one of the most practical skills you gain from training martial arts. It’s not particularly glamorous, but you’re much more likely to slip and fall than you are get into a fistfight or a grappling match out there in the wild world.

So what about folks who want the benefits of learning to fall with all that extra martial arts business? Can you extract the practical falling techniques without having to learn all that other stuff? Of course. Help yourself to the video.

It’s easier to learn to fall if you already know how to squat and have a soft floor but having neither of those things won’t stop you if you are determined and patient.