Thursday, June 05, 2014

Your dominant leg

This year I've taken up karate.

During my last karate class, we were practising a particular type of kick. My sensei said, 'Everyone has one good leg, and one bad leg' and then stopped himself mid-lecture to ask us, 'Why is that? Why do we have one good leg and one not so good'?'

The class offered answers. One student said that every soccer player had a dominant leg for kicking. But then stopped himself when he realized that soccer playing would not explain why *everyone* seemed to have a dominant leg.  Another student suggested it was driving that caused the discrepancy in our leg strength, but our under 16 years olds among us disproved that theory as well.

We did not dwell on it any longer. We resumed our practice.

But I did dwell on it. Why was one leg always stronger than the other?

So I went home and I did some research and it was embarrassing to learn that the answer was so obvious.

A 'dominant leg' is likely the result of the the simple preference of how we walk everyday. "Bone mineral density is higher in the “non-dominant” leg, which specializes in balance and propulsion in walking; muscle mass is greater in the “dominant.”

I was hoping that the dominant leg theory explains why we tend to walk in circles when we have no visible landmarks to guide us, but the sadly facts don't bear out this potentially beautiful metaphor.

So instead I will attempt to draw out a more poetic ending to this writing with two further observations.

First, my sensai has conditioned his left leg to become the better of the two by doing twice as many of his exercises on his left side. 

And secondly, today is Laurie Anderson's birthday.

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