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by Meowaffles

No, I haven't forgotten about the comic. Yes, it's late. Sorry guys.

For the past few weeks I've been busy learning the ropes of my new job. It's actually kinda fun working at a ridiculously huge multinational company but I did have some trouble traveling all the way from Makati to Libiz and back for a week of job training while trying not to neglect my tai chi chuan training while fixing a few financial issues.

I think most everything is in order now. I have my ID, ATM card, and access codes; I can walk to work (My actual assigned workplace is a few blocks from home); I'm almost 2/8ths done with the 108 step tai chi chuan form; and things are looking up in the financial department.

So now I'm back and currently working on the comic. I'm hoping to update around the fourth of July.

What about kicks?
by Meowaffles

I suppose it's about time I make another blog entry regarding martial arts. I really have to apologize as I've been quite busy. Again, I'll do all I can to keep the comic and this site going as regularly as possible.

As I've already written an entry about the basics of punching, I decided to make one about kicking this time.

For some people, kicks come naturally. For others, they are a completely counterintuitive practice. That's how I felt on the first day I started taekwondo classes. I was never very flexible as a child. After painful stretching exercises I found I could very easily slam my body backwards into the ground by attempting to make a very basic high-kick. Sure I played soccer but I was no Pele and never kicked much higher than a foot off the ground. Essentially, I was drastically changing the position of my center of gravity and risking a very bad fall to deliver an attack at a target I could more easily hit with my hands. Some martial arts styles don't even teach much kicking or any kicking at all and here I was, Mr. inflexible, learning the most kick-intensive martial art available. Eventually, after a great deal of time and effort, I learned to do the more difficult and complicated kicking techniques. While I never made it to black belt and am actually having to relearn my kicking techniques, my experiences in studying taekwondo have helped to make me a much better martial artist (and a much better person in general).

My kick training taught me that great change can be achieved by slowly and carefully preparing one's self consistently over time. I learned how to slowly ensure that my muscles and tendons could eventually stand up to the strain of kicking and I learned that all I really had to do to get results was stick to a proper training method even if I couldn't yet see progress. This is true for many things in life and especially true for any technique in the martial arts; but it was made more obvious to me by my constant (and generally secretive) attempts to emulate my movie idols.

Training to kick improves one's balance very quickly. It forces increased flexibility and control over leg muscles. Learning complicated high kicks that push the limits of your capabilities often ensures that your more practical kicks and techniques can be done with that much more control, strength and precision. Good kicking skills double the number of effective weapons you have in your martial arts arsenal. The kicks themselves can potentially bypass many effective defenses with at least twice the force of a punch and considerably more range. I got through a few sparring match without taking any hits at all by simply kicking at the opponents legs every time he would come close. Kicks can be effective if you know how to use them and a good kick to the head will take the fight out of most any opponent you are likely to meet.

As usual, I have some tips and safety reminders for people who want to learn how to kick.

1. Make sure to perform proper stretching and warm ups before attempting to learn how to kick. Make sure to stretch your entire body. If possible, try to work on every joint you have... but be careful. Stretch your limbs. Don't tear them with over-enthusiasm.

2. Star slowly. Do not try to do the most difficult and flashiest looking kick you saw in a movie the first time out. Try a basic high-kick up to the point your tendons allow. This will likely not be a very high high-kick. You might find yourself staring at the ceiling if you overdo things. Once you can do a normal high-kick, try variants of the kick and then work your way to the other techniques.

3. Once you can sort of do a kick, try to do the kick slowly. This is much much harder than doing the kick at regular speed and will strengthen and train your muscles to give them the proper tension during even the wildest and craziest kick maneuvers.

4. Balance is the key to good kicking. Learn to keep your balance by standing on one foot with your other leg in various positions (In front of you, to the side, behind you etc.). Then try resting your weight on each point of your foot on the ground (Heel, instep, outside of foot, ball of foot, toes) throughout each of these exercises.

5. Once you can perform a few useful kicks, practice for speed and power. Also, make sure you work your kicks into your typical freeform fighting style so that you can easily follow up your kicks with other strikes and your other strikes with kicks. The less predictable your attack patterns are, the greater your chances of success in a fight.

Anyway, be safe everyone and try not to practice kicking without an instructor or at least someone to help out just in case you manage to injure yourself. Take care.

Wish Me Luck
by Meowaffles

Been pretty busy. Trying to get a nice Monday to Friday job at IBM. If this pushes through I'll have both a good enough salary to find lots of research material for this comic and enough time per week to work at it comfortably. For now, I'll try to release as many comics consecutively as I can. I still owe you guys a few pages.

New Update Day?
by Meowaffles

Hi everyone. With my current and upcoming changes in schedule I think I will have to change the day I update my webcomic. Most likely Tuesdayish with the way things are going but that could change. Don't worry though; I plan to release 2 pages on my next release so that you guys won't be losing a page even though I push the release day around 4 days forwards. I'll update the sign in the upper right corner when I'm pretty sure my updates will fall regularly on Tuesday. Take care.

How to Throw a Punch without Hurting Yourself
by Meowaffles

While the best defense is not being around when someone wants to attack you and the second best is having something between you and your attacker, like maybe bullet proof glass or a police officer, there might come a time when you find yourself unable to flee or call for assistance when beset by a hostile individual who is not easily dissuaded from acts of physical violence. In most cases, things should be settled in a calm and reasonable manner, but not everyone in the world is reasonable and it's always best to know how to take care of yourself in case of emergencies.

If you can't avoid a fight via running away, de-escalation, or calling the authorities, the first thing you should probably know is how to throw a punch and it's a bad idea to start learning this in the middle of a fight. A fight can end after a single punch and all the blocking and dodging in the world will do you no good if your defenses are not made alongside some attacks. While kicks can be more effective than punches, they are much harder to learn and are especially risky for the untrained practitioner.

The one thing I've noticed about people starting in any martial art is that they often hurt themselves when they first try to strike a person who is used to blocking or taking blows. So without further ado, here's how to throw a punch without hurting yourself for the beginner.

1. Before anything else, try throwing an experimental punch or two in the air. Do not make any exaggerated movements. Just try to throw your fist as quickly as possible at a point in the air in front of your face. Resist the urge to punch a solid object. Find out where to position your arms and body so that you can make the quickest possible punches in the air one after the other. While different schools have different ideas about stances, your arms should be more or less conveniently located to deflect most attacks to your head and upper body with minimal movement while allowing you to easily throw quick punches. Never let your guard down, even in practice. It'll get you used to guarding your head and it'll prevent you from lowering your arms unintentionally in a fight. While these won't be the strongest punches you can do, you won’t always have the luxury of the optimal position for a strong punch. Throwing a quick punch at the right location might have to do.

2. Now, you'll have to condition your hands for punching. Some schools of fighting, particularly karate, prefer the first 2 knuckles as the point used for striking; others prefer the whole fist or even other parts of the hand. Whatever the case, if you've never hit anything hard before, close your fist making sure to keep your thumb curled up out of the way beside but not held by your other fingers (you could break your thumb if you punch with your thumb in your fist). Now punch something very very lightly, preferably a solid smooth surface and gradually increase the strength of your blows until it hurts a bit but not hard enough to injure yourself or to even leave lasting pain. This should give you an idea of how tough your fists actually are. Once you have an idea of how tough your fists actually are, try hitting a somewhat softer object, like a punching bag or a sack of loose sand or a pillow with a wooden board behind it. Punch harder, but make sure not to injure yourself with extreme enthusiasm. Alternate punching solid objects with only light force and softer objects with greater force. This alternation allows you to toughen your fists while cultivating the habit of making stronger punches. Toughening your fists is not just a matter of pain tolerance. You literally increase the density of your bone by creating microscopic fractures that eventually heal into tougher material. Do not rush the process; it may take a month to get anywhere and maybe years for optimum results. I estimate about a month or two before you can get seemingly rock hard knuckles. Most people can get by in a fight after considerably shorter training.

3. So which parts of your hand can you strike with? In my opinion, the whole hand should be useable as a weapon. Now there are notable differences if you punch in different ways. Generally, the smaller the point of contact with the target the more concentrated the shattering blow of your force is. Punching with 1 or two knuckles is done for shattering force but can be strenuous on the hand and wrist. A wider area, like all four knuckles or the palm makes for very stable punches that more easily push the opponent back. They seem better for disrupting balance and a bit safer for the hands. Ridge hand chops are a nice balance between the two and finger strikes are not to be attempted without some training. You might accidentally break your fingers against your opponent's skull or he might grab and twist them if you don't know what you are doing. Get a feel for what the best punches are for you.

4. Now, that you have most of the basics down, you'll want to know how to punch really hard. There are several ways to get a really hard punch and you can combine as many as possible for the best results.

-Obviously the faster and heavier you punch, the stronger the punch. Also, the tougher and more pain resistant your hand, the harder you can punch without getting injured.

-If you punch as if you were striking something an inch or more behind your target, your punch will have more power and driving force.

-Some people claim pulling back or withdrawing your fist at the proper moment after a punch facilitates a transfer of force. This is hard to really verify without willing volunteers. Whatever the case, it makes your hand harder to grab after a punch. Rolling your fist when you punch can also make it harder to deflect your attack.

-Try to put your entire body weight behind your punch. Punch with your whole body moving in unison so that your entire weight is added to the mass of the blow. Some people try to run or jump to do this but that's not necessary and makes it hard for you to stop or make last minute changes to the direction of your own punch.

-Twist your waist and upper body to get extra torque.

-Finally, use your legs to push against the ground to add power to your punches.

-There are other more advanced techniques to get stronger punches but these involve more specific motions and actions that are often taught in certain martial arts or boxing schools. They are probably best taught by those schools themselves and might be too much for the beginner who's never thrown a punch before.

5. Finally, when practicing to punch work on your accuracy. You don't want to cut your knuckles on someone's teeth, however tempting that target might be. Figure out how you'll punch someone in the stomach, head, face, or wherever seems appropriate without inviting easy counterattack. Practice with a partner to get a realistic feel of how someone might try and counter your attacks. Spar a little.

With luck you'll never get into a real fight, but if you do, you can try and end the fight with a few swift and solid blows. Just make sure that you're in the right, that you don't start these fights yourself, and that you do what you can to avoid actual fights as much as possible. Have a great day :)