This book is the tenth volume in the extremely well written and fully illustrated, Achieving Kicking Excellence? series of books.
This book, like all the other books in the series, goes into intricate detail over all aspects of executing the primary kick, which in this case is the Back Leg Side Kick, and several of its main variations.
Starting with a basic anatomical analysis of this kick, you quickly progress to the basic principles associated with the Side Kick, and then you dive right into learning the proper execution of the primary kick, Back Leg Side Kick.
Once you have finished with this section, you are taken to the variations chapter which builds upon the primary kick, Back Leg Side Kick, by teaching you 10 of its main variations. From here you are taken to the "Training and Practice Methods" chapter for a look at some very simple, yet effective methods for adding speed and power to your kicks.
Your next chapter takes a "question and answer" approach to some of the most common problems people have executing these kicks and the solutions to correct them.
The next chapter in this book deals with a brief application section for each of the kicks previously detailed in this book. Please be advised that a second ten volume series of books is currently being written which deals strictly with the combat and tournament applications of each kick.
The book then gives you a sneak preview of the next twenty volumes in the series, ten of which deal with the combat or self-defense applications of each of the ten primary kicks, and their main variations. While the other ten volumes deal with how to defend against each of the ten primary kicks and their main variations.
Spotlight customer reviews:
Customer Rating: Summary: Another great book in this spectacular series Comment: Shawn Kovacich's next book in the "Achieving Kicking Excellence" is on the side kick. Kovacich is outstanding at explaining precise detail on the method of his kick, which is the more traditional and probably the most taught way of executing this kick. He again writes about what muscles accomplish what, base and support, and how to turn, and most importantly, placements of the legs, knee, feet, at certain stages.
While Shawn's method of performing this kick is a time honored method and works well for many people, I was disappointed, like in his hook kick series, that he did not mention the "Wallace method." Bill Wallace's method, of which Shawn is or should be familiar, is also a battle tested kick and has some advantages over the traditional method (and one may argue there are some disadvantages as well, but I would have liked to see that debate). I think he should have shown both method's or explain why he choose to disregard the Wallace method. Shawn's method takes the added step of coiling the knee at the waist level before swinging up at the midway peak. In the Wallace method, the midway peak is the coil position and therefore, a step is eliminated (and in my opinion, this is generally a benefit).
Some may have suggested that I didn't fault Shawn for not dealing with Wallace's roundhouse kick in that book, since for Wallace, the side, hook, and roundhouse work off the same principle. While the Wallace roundhouse is slightly different, for sport or combat, that kick, unlike the side or hook, does not really need a Wallce method; unless, of course, one likes practicing the triple kick combination, but fo rsport or self defense, that is a poor combination. Both versions of the side kick have adavntages and disadvantages and in such an otherwise excellent book, I think Shanw should have mentioned it, since after all, it is not some unknown method; however, one does get a glimpse of this method photo wise on 164-165.
Besides that criticism, I find his series to be outstanding and I still highly recommend this resource. I spent more time on the criticism, because his book and the rest of the series are really spectacular books and my criticisms have been scant. I think this book on its own still fairs extremely well and is a nice collection to any martial arts library. The photos in Black and White, while lacking a photo-finish quality, do show a quality of martial technique superiority.
His trouble shooting guide is great.
Customer Rating: Summary: The important and difficult side kick deeply explained Comment: Achieving Kicking Excellence
If you are a novice martial artist, a kick-box exercise video nut, or someone who wants to advance their knowledge of martial art kicks, this book looks as if it would be very helpful.
The series of books is organized by type of kick: back, wheel, axe, crescent, reverse crescent, front, hook, hatchet, roundhouse, side kick. Ten books in all.
The volumes are absolutely loaded with pictures of not only kick technique but also of helpful strength-with-weight exercises, especially gym exercises with machines like the hack squat and leg press sled and of course the all-important lunge. So you get not only a discussion of how-to, but of what exercises can improve overall performance by gaining muscle strength. There are pictures with overlays of angles and axes, giving you an idea of proper form, though there is no substitute for a sensei giving you real-time feedback, of course. So these books are a good adjunct to martial arts class in the dojo; something to read and then take to practice and work on with real-time help.
There is a section on sparring--right and wrong. There is a suggested reading list in the back. A very complete series.
The only thing these volumes suffer from is slightly dark and low contrast black and white photograph reproduction due to pictures being on paper stock and not glazed plate stock, in order to keep costs reasonable for publishing. And the cover photo is wonderful but the graphic design (showing the title being shattered by the someone doing the title kick) was a GREAT concept but you can't read the title on the front cover (because it's being kicked to bits!) This is annoying; you have to read the spine to see which kick the book is about. If this bugs you, it's easily fixed: get some stickers or a Sharpie and mark the front cover with something like SIDE KICK VOL 10 or whatever works for you.
Author Kovacich is a black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do (which of course is one of the martial arts for which the kick is the premier technique.) Customer Rating: Summary: You don't use the entire side of your foot when you execute a Side Kick. Comment: Side Kick was another kick that I thought I knew pretty well. But I didn't like to use it because I was always hurting my foot. I couldn't figure out what was wrong because everything looks like it is supposed to. When I read Side Kick, volume #10 in the Achieving Kicking Excellence series by Shawn Kovacich, I learned that I was using the wrong area of my foot to strike my opponent. I was using the entire side or knife edge of my foot to strike my opponent, rather than just the outside edge of my heel.
That made sense to me, so I tried it the next class I had. Not surprisingly, I performed the kick a lot more efficiently and was hitting the kicking bags harder without the pain that I was used to experience in my foot and ankle. There were a whole lot more things that I learned as well, but since this is my last review for this series of books, I wanted to point out some of the great things that are relevant to each kick that are included in each book. Remember that each section in each book directly relates to that particular kick.
1. Outstanding detail and approach to the principles behind the correct execution of each kick.
2. The mind blowing amount of detail that is included in each book is staggering.
3. The format of the each book is the same and very easy to follow.
4. The "Troubleshooting" section was very informative and answered a lot of questions.
5. The breakdown of each kick to its simplest level in order to enhance the learning process.
6. The "Notes" sections that are found throughout the each book are little gems of wisdom in and of themselves.
7. The additional sections on how to improve your kicking skills.
8. The "Applications" section, although brief is very informative and wets the appetite for the next set of books in the series.
9. The author's technical expertise is without question and the thought and care that he put into his books shines through in every way.
10. Finally, the author's style of teaching is very easy to understand and comprehend.
In closing I would like to highly recommend to everyone that reads my reviews on the books in this series to buy a complete set and see for yourself just how fantastic these books really are. You won't regret it! Customer Rating: Summary: A valuable reference for practitioners of most any martial style Comment: This series is a fantastic reference for anyone interested in the finer points of kicking, particularly for those of us whose exposure to this aspect of the martial arts has been somewhat limited. I have been doing this stuff since 1970, for example, yet have focused exclusively on styles that have very little emphasis on kicking applications (e.g., Goju Ryu karate, Kodokan judo, and Matayoshi kobudo). Goju Ryu, for instance, utilizes roughly 70% hand techniques. Don't get me wrong, I have a pretty mean mae geri (front kick) that can rock your world, but there are many other leg techniques utilized by other arts that I am simply not at all expert with--hatchet kicks, axe kicks, and crescent kicks, to name a few.
This is why I was so excited to find Shawn Kovacich's comprehensive "Achieving Kicking Excellence" series. If you are familiar with Kris Wilder's outstanding tome, The Way of Sanchin Kata: The Application of Power, these books take a similarly in-depth yet approachable style. Each volume explores one type of kick in great detail, outlining some 50 or 60 technical points (depending on the type of kick), in an easy to understand and utilize manner. At first blush you might think that it would be tough to devote an entire volume to just one type of kick, yet each offering in this exceptional series runs more than 200 pages and is packed with meaningful information.
No dojo darling, Kovacich really knows what he is talking about. A fourth-degree black belt in both karate and taekwondo, he has competed in full contact sparring tournaments (including the prestigious Sabaki Challenge) and is the world-record holder for both endurance- and high-kicking as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Kovacich has been teaching martial arts since 1985 and this knowledge, skill, and ability really shine through in his writing.
The text is clear and comprehensive, yet written in everyday language that just about anyone can easily grasp. No matter how good the writing, however, this sort of topic needs wide-ranging illustrations to ensure thorough comprehension. Fortunately there are tons of them. Regrettably though, the pictures are quite dark and/or grainy in most places (my only real complaint about the series). Despite the fuzziness of the photo printing, however, the pictures themselves are first rate as are the corresponding illustrations. Most of the pictures not only have captions but also reference numbers that align with the text to assure further clarity. There are separate illustrations that show the appropriate foot position and base of support for each movement too. This layout method is really slick; I like it a lot. There is a pretty good index in the back that supplements the table of contents too, so you can easily refer back to anything you will want to re-read later on (and you'll almost certainly want to refer back to much of this information later on).
While the front and back matter are virtually identical amongst the various volumes (such that each one can stand alone without the rest of the series), the core content is unique for each type of kick. This front and back matter (e.g., warm up and stretching) is a bit cursory too, though that is perfectly understandable given the primary focus of the books; truly nothing to be overly concerned with in my opinion. Each volume in the series is laid-out in an identical manner and includes the following topics:
-- Basic anatomy of the kick
-- Warm up and stretching
-- Principles of the kicking movement (e.g., stability, balance, sequence of movements, speed, accuracy, targeting, visualization, etc.)
-- Performing the primary kick (e.g., fighting position, knee raise, coil, impact, follow-through, recoil, knee drop, return to fighting position).
-- Performing variations from the primary kick (e.g., step, switch, jump, spin, cross-over, etc.)
-- Training and practice methods (e.g., skill, strength, speed, and power training)
-- Trouble shooting the kick
-- Kicking applications against an opponent
-- Author's awards and accomplishments
-- Recommended reading
No matter how well written, you cannot learn martial arts solely from a book, of course, but this series is a fantastic supplement for hands-on instruction. It covers important nuances that are rarely described adequately by most sensei (or sifu, etc.). I have found that, in general, books can reach a level of clarity and comprehensiveness that is simply not achievable with DVDs as well. This series is no exception to that rule. Despite a bit of redundancy amongst the various volumes, the technical merits and detailed analysis of the kicks make these books a stellar resource for any serious martial artist. I'm proud to include all ten volumes in my library.
Author of Surviving Armed Assaults, Martial Arts Instruction, The Way to Black Belt, and The Way of Kata