A View of sparringAt original ITF Magazine, we are always keen to get high profile exponents of the art covered. One of our team contacted one such person and he took the time to give us this amazing article. Those that have been around for many years will know who Lee Hollingsworth is due to his ITF and Kickboxing career – well, in the day, he was a name many knew. Today, he is the chairman of ITF Union England and the instructor of Hollingsworth TaeKwon-Do Here’s the article he gave to Mrs. Tizick VI.

Hi, my name is Master Lee Hollingsworth and my background in Martial Arts is ITF Taekwon-Do. I have been training and learning for around 33 years now. First, here’s a little background on why I started started Taekwon-Do…

As a child I had quite bad asthma and eczema, so the doctor recommended my parents to get me into some form of physical activity to help with my overall health etc. So, as by chance there was a local Taekwon-Do club down the road… I fell in love with Taekwon-Do from the very first time watching it at the back of the Dojang at the age of 4, watching the adults shouting and kicking in uniform, military style.

I remember clear as day walking back home from watching the class, kicking and shouting up the road pretending to be what I just saw… I couldn’t wait for my first Taekwon-Do class. Being small for my age I was always the smallest and weakest of the class, the cute one they called me. In all honestly I wasn’t very good at sparring in my beginning years, I much preferred the patterns and technical side of things… until I hit 13/14 years old.

I participated at the 1998 TAGB World Championships at the Birmimgham NIA. This was by far the biggest competition I had been to yet and really opened my eyes. I lost my first fight, but this seemed to have ignited a fire in me to become a champion, and made me realise how good I really wanted to be.

One of my early TKD idols after watching this Championships was a man called Joseph Schembri… I had never seen speed like it, this guy was rapid… of course I then went away and worked on my speed and movement, using ankle weights whilst training etc… anything to make my quicker and kick as fast as him. Now I’m getting better, starting to win golds, I’m watching the Prince Naseem Hamed on Tele (another huge idol in my teens) copying his style, oozing confidence whilst sparring pretending to be him.

I personally think having an idol or someone that influences you and your training / style is very very helpful and important. Find that person that inspires you! Now I could go on for a while now about where I’ve been, what I’ve won, what I’ve not won etc… to put it quickly I have been very blessed and lucky enough to travel the world competing, winning many International and National titles.

I have also competed in full professional kickboxing in the ring fighting at National Championship level. Now onto my number one favourite technique in ITF sparring or even kickboxing. My staple, bread and butter is the lead leg side kick. Which probably is the most popular of all the sparring techniques used mostly around the world.

The Taekwon-Do club where I’m from was renowned for having good side kicks, as we drilled them until we were blue in the face. So the technique of this kick itself was taken care of, however… most do not understand WHY to use this kick, HOW to use, or WHEN to use. So let’s look into this now.

My own humble personal views: Why to use the Side kick?

  • To accumulate points to the body AND head.
  • To stop your opponent from attacking and getting closer to yourself.
  • It is also a good range finder
  • Can set up other techniques
  • To deceive your opponent
  • A very direct, powerful and effective kick How to use?
  • Start in a half facing guard / Spar[1]ring stance
  • Lift your lead leg knee, chamber as high as you can at a 45° angle trying to keep your knee and shin in line, pointing your footsword/heel towards your opponent
  • We have 3 distances to use cover as an attacking kick (Close, neutral, long)
  • Close – kick out straight away once opponent is in range by only lifting the leg and not moving until kick is executed.
  • Neutral – normal sparring range, sliding / shifting and kicking in one swift action. Be careful not to telegraph the kick by bringing the back foot in first.
  • Long – out of sparring range, we use a double pump side kick with 2 slides/shifts and 2 separate full kicks towards your opponent. If your opponent comes towards you the 1st will land, if they stay – the 2nd will land. If they move, momentum will carry us on to then perform a phase 2 attack. Some key points to help with this kick and the overall…
  • Work on your flexibility
  • Work on your leg strength
  • Learn to kick slowly first
  • A good high chamber is very helpful
  • Try doing a whole competition only using this kick for attack and defence, do not worry about losing. You will learn so much more about the side kick from doing this in real time competition
  • Use some smaller competitions for training, focusing on the big competitions as the end goal
  • Repetition is the art of learning There are also different variations for defensive side kicks as well which we can cover at another time. As a good boxer would work with and off a jab, I believe a good Taekwon-Do fighter should certainly know all about the side kick as our jab… and the best points accumulator in the game!
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