Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘west coast swing’

Kicks; Front, Side, Back

Posted by terrepruitt on March 1, 2014

Here is where it is obvious that the moves we include in the 52 Moves of Nia are not unique to Nia. Kicks are part of many dances, martial arts, and movement forms. Kicks can be done in many different ways. They are great for many things. In Nia while we dance we often do kicks. We count each kick as a separate move so the Front Kick, the Side Kick, and the Back Kick are three of the 52 Moves of Nia moves.

I know that we did kicks in country line dancing and in West Coast Swing.  They kick in ballet and jazz dance.  We all know they kick in all types of martial arts such as karate, jujutsu, and kickboxing.  Kicks are even a part of exercise routines and sports.  I know they do kicks in Jazzercize and Zumba.

Each kick requires balance, and that is one of the things that kicks are good for.  The act of kicking helps improve, helps challenge, and helps retain balance.  One must be on one leg and/or foot in order to kick the other leg.

With a Front Kick, in Nia, we balance on one whole foot, we lift the other thigh so the foot is off the ground.  We keep our alignment of our three body weights.  We use our arms to help maintain the balance.  The leg we are standing on is firmly rooting to the earth yet the knee is not locked.  Then we extend the leg of the foot that is off the ground, allowing the shin and foot to move forward, away from the body.  We look where we kick.  We kick at our own level.  It could be that you are able to lift your thigh so it parallel to the ground or possibly your knee is higher than your hip.  Remember it is your kick so it is your balance practice.

The Side Kick starts as the front kick, on one leg, the we lift our thigh, but instead of sending the foot forward and away from the body we shift our hips so the one that has the leg lifted it higher than the other one and our knee crosses the midline of the body, the we push our foot out to the side of the body.  The same side as the foot that is lifted.

The Back Kick has the same start as the front kick and side kick.  Stand on one leg and lift the other thigh up.  As with the front kick your body is in alignment.  The we push the leg that is lifted, back, as if we are stepping on the wall behind us.  For an additional challenge to balance you can look behind you.

Just like all the 52 Moves in Nia, while doing these kicks in our Nia routines we often modify them a bit.  Sometimes the kicks are slow and powerful.  Sometimes they are fast and done with a bit of ease.  Sometimes the choreography allows for the foot to rest on the earth before rising again to kick, sometimes not.  Sometimes the kicks are done in a fast repetitive fashion.  Sometimes they are meant to be done low, sometimes they are meant to be done high.  But all kicks are meant to be done in your own body’s way.

In addition to balance, kicks help with strength.  Both legs, the standing and the kick leg get the benefit of that.  Also kicking is good for exercising your coordination, especially when there is travel involved and/or arm movements.  Kicks are a great addition to many dance modalities and exercise forms.  I would bet you are familiar with kicks.

Do you do kicks in your cardio dance class?  Do you include kicks in your workout routine?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Faking It Is Easy

Posted by terrepruitt on August 28, 2012

My husband and I used to dance.  We danced “Country Western”, we did the two step, the cha-cha, the waltz, and the west coast swing.  We liked to dance.  I sometimes would fake it though.  Yeah, I would.  We would go to a lesson and they would show us a move.  We would practice it during the lesson then usually there was a dance party after.  We would join the party.  My husband would always DO THE MOVE WE JUST LEARNED.  I would say, “Ack!  You’re doing the move we just learned!”  And he would look at me with a look that said to me, “Of course, Silly Woman, that is why we are here.  To learn stuff and then actually DO IT.”  But for me the time spent in the lesson was never enough to actually learn it.  Even though the leader’s part is much more difficult than the follower’s, I still couldn’t get it in one lesson.  So a lot of the times I would fake it.  And by fake it I mean, that if you were to look at my feet and KNOW where there were supposed to be, you would know my feet were not correct.  I could move in a way that if you were just casually looking you would think I was doing it right.  I would always make sure I was facing the right direction so you wouldn’t really know my feet were not doing the move correctly unless you knew the move yourself!  Since most people don’t stare at your feet the entire time I often got away with it.  I was good at faking it.  Faking it was easy in the fast songs.

Eventually I would learn the move correctly, but there were some moves that took me a long time to get.  Then somewhere along the way we decided to compete.  I mean, competing really is the only way to know if you are really improving and to spend all that money on lessons and not improve can be a silly thing.  So we decided to compete.  Do you know what that meant?  No more faking it.  I mean the whole point of competition is to have someone look at you and judge — among other things — your feet.  So I had to stop faking it.

I am learning a lot as I sub for different exercise classes.  I recently subbed a class and I was reminded of the faking it.  It is easy to fake it in some classes.  Let’s say Zumba for example, I’ve posted before about how Zumba is all agility (I have since learned otherwise, but I will reflect on that in a post at a later time).  Zumba is the fast start and stop.  Move stop the move and move the other direction, move stop, move stop.  The full range of motion is usually not achieved, you are moving to another move before you really get to finish the first one.  Start, stop, start, stop, start stop.  It is easy to fake.  The fast dances were always easy for me to fake. The good thing about faking it is you are still moving and that is good in a sense.  Even if you are not doing the move correctly you are moving and burning calories and often it is so fast the casually observer or someone standing next to you is not going to notice.  I think this is one of the things that people like about Zumba . . . you are moving and dancing even when you are faking it.

It is the slow dances that are difficult.  With Nia it is not as easy to fake.  With Zumba a move could be hopping from one leg to the other.  With Nia we might actually balance on one leg.  No speed to it, just lifting one leg off the ground and standing on one leg.  Strength and stability.  No faking.  I always invite participants to use a chair, a wall, the barre, or even their other foot, but either way you cannot FAKE standing on one leg.  Sadly, I think for some, not being able to fake it keeps them from joining in the joy of Nia.  The judgment from themselves is so great that they can’t let go and just do what they can because what they can do is not blurred by the start and the stop.  What they can’t do is not blurred by speed.  And they don’t give themselves the chance to learn how to do the moves.  They don’t allow themselves the time to get the muscles in a condition where they can move slow and controlled.  Faking it is easy, it is actually doing a move slow, controlled, and correctly where the difficulty comes in.

When I take a Zumba class I know I fake it often because I don’t know the move so I concentrate on being at the right place and/or facing the right direction at the right time.  Eventually I get the moves . . . well, most of the time.

I know this is my opinion, I don’t really KNOW, but it is coming from a place of judgment based on some things I have seen and heard.  You know I am always trying to figure out the differences between Zumba and Nia and why people like them.  And recently this was a thought because of something I heard and observed . . . the speed, the faking, the judgment.

Do you fake until you make it in your exercise class? 

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »