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Taekwondo practitioners demonstrating a roundhouse kick.

Japanese name Kanji: Hiragana: Korean name Hangul: ?? ?? ??

In martial arts, combat sports or violence, a kick is a strike using the foot, leg, or knee (also known as a knee strike). This attack is often used in hand-to-hand combat, especially in stand-up fighting. Kicks play a great part in many martial arts, such as Taekwondo, Kung fu, Wushu, Karate, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Capoeira, Silat, Sanshou, Vovinam, Kalarippayattu, and Savate. Some arts do not utilize kicks at all, such as judo and boxing. Other arts limit the use of kicks to attacks on the legs and lower body, while some sport martial arts tournaments only allow kicking above the waist. Various types of kick are described below, but the names used to describe a kick may vary between arts

Basic kicks
Front kick
In Japanese, mae geri; in Korean, ap chagi. The Front Kick is considered the simplest of all kicks, but it also has wide variety in ways of execution. Delivering front kick involves rising a knee of striking leg to the position in which desired point-of-impact, one’s

foot and pelvis are on the same line. Then, one should straighten striking leg quickly and make contact with a target area. Generally, one will want to retract one’s foot quickly by bending knee again, to prevent opponent from possibly grappling one’s striking leg. Depending of fighter’s tactical needs, front kick may involve less or more overall body motion. Thrusting one’s hip forward in a short, powerful rotating motion is common method of increasing both reach and power of the kick. The front kick is typically executed with upper body straight and balanced (compared to, e.g., side and hook kick, where leaning back for balance is somewhat natural). The actual strike is usually delivered by using ball of the foot (while pointing the foot toward the target area and keeping toes up to prevent injury), by heel or by entire foot when footwear is used. Using ball of a foot is preferred in Karate. This method demands more control of one’s movement and sometimes tempering one’s striking surfaces, but allows for narrow, penetrating strike. TKD practitioners utilise both heel and ball of the foot for striking. Various combat systems teach ’general’ front kick using heel or whole foot when footwear is on. For example, martial art systems employed by military assume that a fighter wears heavy footwear and is generally less mobile than typically assumed in competition martial arts. Properly executing a fast ’snap’ front kick while controlling one’s foot direction may be difficult in said conditions. Less technically demanding kicks utilizing the soles of heavy footwear as a striking surface are easier to execute. Front kicks are typically aimed at targets below the chest: abdomen, thighs, knees or lower. Highly skilled martial artists are often capable of striking head-level targets with front kick, but rarely consider this practice viable. A well-developed front kick is excellent asset in both offence (e.g. as an opening attack that forces the opponent to dodge or deflect the kick, thus creating opportunity for punch) and defence (e.g. as a tool to keep the opponent from punch range, or to inflict


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heavy damage when the opponent is closing the distance while maintaining upper guard).

stomach, jaw, temple and chest. The side blade is more suited to the softer targets such as the knee and neck. Muay thai uses the side-kick in a smaller manner by using it as a damaging attack only when striking the knees of a high-kicking opponent when one wishes to destroy said opponent. Otherwise, it is mainly used in a pushing role. The reason this is stems from the fact that the most viable targets for a sidekick are the lower abdomen (Below the belt) and the face, which is a risky venture. Side kicks require less flexibility to reach head height than any other standing kick. However, they need much greater strength and precision to be used effectively in anything but a rough, pushing strike such as that employed by other push kicks. In capoeira the side kick is known as chapa or pisao.

Roundhouse kick
In Japanese, mawashi geri (????); in Korean, dollyo chagi (?? ??). Also called a round kick, snap kick, or turning kick. The attacker swings his/her leg sideways in a circular motion, kicking the opponent’s side with the front of the leg, usually with the top of the foot (called the instep), ball of the foot, toe (if careful), or shin. Also performable is a 360 degree kick in which the attacker performs a full circle with his/her leg. The striking surface is generally either the instep, shin or ball of the foot. A simpler version of the kick is performed by starting as a straight kick, but turning the hips sideways so the kick is snapped sideways (called a point kick). It is called Martelo in capoeira. This is the most commonly used kick in kickboxing due to its power and ease of use. In most styles, the instep is used to strike, while in Shotokan karate when it was first introduced to the curricula in 1950, used the ball of the foot. In Kyokushinkai, this was changed to the instep and then, due possibly to encounters with Muay Thai practitioners, included use of the shin. Muay Thai has used the shin for its entire existence, seeing the use of the foot as being too open to being damaging to the small bones contained within, while the shin delivers much more power than the foot.

Reverse side kick
In Korean ban dae yeop chagi (?? ? ??) or momdollyo yeop chagi. Uses more of a spin in its delivery than the back kick, allowing the hips to turn over more. The kick begins from a high chamber as opposed to the straight through motion of a back kick. Can use either the heel (dwi kkumchi ???) or footsword (balkal ??) as the attacking tool. Although not done entirely the same way, the capoeira kick Chapa Giratoria looks very similar to the reverse side kick.

Back kick
In Japanese, ushiro geri; in Korean, dwit chagi (? ??). Also called a donkey kick, spin kick, mule kick, or turning back kick. This kick is directed backward keeping the kicking leg close to the standing leg and using the heel as a striking surface. Most often, this kick is delivered with a spinning motion in tournaments. It can be highly damaging due to its power and Benny Urquidez stated once in his book, "Training and Fighting Skills", his belief in it being the most powerful kick in karate. The back kick is a powerful kick used in Taekwondo.

Side kick
In Japanese, yoko geri; in Korean, yop chagi (? ??). The Side Kick refers to a kick that is delivered sideways in relation to the body of the person kicking. There are two general ways in which a side kick can be delivered. The first involves chambering the kick by bending it and cocking it back (recoiling it, in other words) before you kick.[1] The second involves shooting the leg forward as you would in a front kick and then pivoting and turning so that you actually deliver a side kick. In addition, there are two areas that are commonly used as impact points in sidekicks. The first is the heel of the foot and the other is the outer edge of the foot(this is sometimes called the side blade kick, "ashi-gatana" or "sokuto" in Japanese). The heel is more suited to hard targets such as the ribs,

Advanced kicks


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jumping spin roundhouse kick into a spinning hook kick, all in one jump and one spin. First practiced in Chinese martial arts, the butterfly kick, or "xuan zi," is widely viewed as ineffective for actual combat. Attempting to use this technique to actually attack an opponent could result in leg injuries. However, its original purpose was to evade an opponent’s floor sweep and flip to the antagonist’s exposed side.

Axe kick (hammer kick/stretch kick)
In Japanese, kakato geri; in Korean, chikyo chagi or naeryo chagi (?? ??). An axe kick is characterized by the straightened leg coming down on an opponent, like the blade of an axe. The starting phase involves the foot being moved in an arc up and forward, like a crescent kick. The arc motion is stopped, and the attacking foot is brought down to strike the target from above, in imitation of an axe. The arc can be performed in either an inward (counter-clockwise) or outward (clockwise) fashion. In some styles, this is known as a downward kick. Axe kicks must be practiced carefully because they can very easily be used to accidentally injure one’s sparring partner. One of the most famous proponents of the axe kick was the late Andy Hug, the Swiss karateka that won the 1996 K-1 Grand Prix. He won countless fights with this kick, and it was in fact called the "Andy kick" in some circles.

Calf kick
This kick strikes with the backside of the calf. A variation which is known as the jumping calf kick is when the user jumps before performing the kick.

Crescent kick
In Japanese, mikazuki Geri; in Korean, bandal chagi (?? ??). The crescent kick, also referred to as a ’swing’ kick, has some similarities to a hook kick, and is sometimes practised as an offtarget front snap kick. The leg is bent like the front kick, but the knee is pointed at a target to the left or right of the true target. The energy from the snap is then redirected, whipping the leg into an arc and hitting the target from the side. This is useful for getting inside defenses and striking the side of the head or for knocking down hands to follow up with a close attack. In many styles of Tai Chi Chuan, crescent kicks are taught as tripping techniques. When training for crescent kicks, it is common to keep the knee extended to increase the difficulty. This also increases the momentum of the foot and can generate more force, though it takes longer to build up the speed. The inward/inner/inside crescent hits with the instep. Its arch is clockwise for the left leg and counter-clockwise for the right leg. Force is generated by both legs’ hip adduction. The inward variant has also been called a hangetsu geri (Crescent moon kick) in karate and is employed to "wipe" an opponents hand off of one’s wrist. It can quickly be followed up by a low side-blade kick to the knee of the offender. The outward/outer/outside crescent hits with the ’blade’, the outside edge of the leg. Its path is counter-clockwise for the left leg and clockwise for the right leg, and force is generated by both legs’ hip abduction. This is similar to a rising side kick, only with the

Butterfly Kick

Butterfly kick
The butterfly kick is done by doing a large circular motion with both feet in succession, making the combatant airborne. There are many variations of this kick. The kick may look like a slanted aerial cartwheel, and at the same time, the body spins horizontally in a circle. You would have to jump with one leg while kicking with the other, then move the kicking leg down and the jumping leg up into a kick, landing with the first kicking leg, all while spinning. It may also resemble a


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kicking leg’s hip flexed so that the line of force travels parallel to the ground from front to side rather than straight up, beginning and ending at the side.

towards the center of the body. The kick is then directed outward from a cross-leg chamber so that the final destination of the kick is a target to the side, rather than one that is directly ahead.

Hook kick
In Japanese, ura mawashi-geri; in Korean, huryeo chagi (?? ??) or golcho chagi.

Reverse roundhouse/heel kick

Low, middle and high Reverse roundhouse kicks performed in succession Steven Ho executing a Jump Spin Hook Kick The hook kick strikes with the heel from the side (or flat of the foot in sparring). It is executed similar to a side kick. However, the kick is intentionally aimed slightly off target in the direction of the kicking foot’s toes. At full extension, the knee is bent and the foot snapped to the side, impacting the target with the heel. Practitioners of jeet kune do frequently use the term heel hook kick or sweep kick. It is known as Gancho in capoeira. Spinning hook kicks can be seen used by Bruce Lee in all of its flashiness in Fists of Fury (The Chinese Connection in America). Lee also used the move in Enter the Dragon, where he used it several times to knock out opponents. Bill Wallace was also a great user of this kick, as seen in his fight with Bill Briggs, where he KO’d his opponent with the clocked 60mph kick. The Jump Spin Hook Kick was popularized in the mid-eighties by Steven Ho in open martial art competitions. In Japanese, ushiro mawashi geri (??????); in Korean, bandae dollyo chagi (?? ?? ??), dwit hu ryo chagi, nakkio mom dollyo chagi or parryo chagi. This kick is also known as a heel kick, reverse turning kick, reverse round kick or spin kick. This kick traditionally uses the heel to strike with. The kicking leg comes from around the kicker’s back and remains straight, unlike a reverse hooking kick. See above for more on hook kicks. Variations exist for low, middle and high height. Spinning and leaping variations of the kick are also popular, and are often showcased in film and television media. A different kick that is similarly named also exists. It is literally a roundhouse kick performed by turning as if for a back straight kick and executing a roundhouse kick. It is known as a Reverse Roundhouse Kick because the kicker turns in the opposite, or "reverse", direction before the kick is executed. This kick strikes with the ball of the foot for power or the top of the foot for range. A version performed by WWE Diva Mickie James is called the Long Kiss Goodnight because it is preceded by a kiss, then performed. In Olympic format (sport) taekwondo, this technique is performed using the balls of the feet, and in a manner similar to a back

Twist kick
In Korean, bituro chagi. In Okinawan karate, it is sometimes called a dragon kick. The twist kick begins as would a front kick. However, the practitioner, beginning as with a front kick, allows the heel to move


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thrust, rather than the circular technique adopted in other styles/Martial Arts.

brings both in as a take down (as the name states, leg motions are like that of a pair of scissors). The scissor kick in Taekwondo is called kawi chagi. In capoeira it is called tesoura (scissors). Scissor kicks and other variants are also commonly applied in Vovinam.

Flying kicks

Vertical kick (thrust kick/push kick)
The vertical kick involves bringing the knee forward and across the chest, then swinging the hip while extending the kicking leg outward, striking with the outside ("sword") edge of the foot. It can deliver a considerable amount of power. This is called a yoko geri keage in karate. In Taekwondo, the vertical kick is called sewo chagi, and can be performed as either an inward (anuro) or outward (bakuro) kick.

Flying back kick. Note: The running-up part of the flying kick sequence is cut off in this animation, so you only see the jumping component of the kick. A flying kick, in martial arts, is a general description of kicks that involve a running start, jump, then a kick in mid-air. Compared to a regular kick, the user is able to achieve greater momentum from the run at the start. Flying kicks are not to be mistaken for jumping kicks, which are similar maneuvers. A jumping kick is very similar to a flying kick, except that it lacks the running start and the user simply jumps and kicks from a stationary position. Flying kicks are often derived from the basic kicks. Some of the more commonly known flying kicks are the: flying side kick, flying back kick and the flying roundhouse kick, as well as the flying reverse roundhouse kick. Flying kicks are commonly practiced in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Wushu, and Muay Thai for fitness, exhibitions, competition, as well as self defence. It is known as tobi geri in Japanese martial arts, and twimyo chagi in Taekwondo.

Multiple kick
In Japanese karate, the term ren geri is used for several kicks performed in succession. Old karate did not promote the use of the legs for weapons as much as modern karate does, seeing them as being too open for countering. However, in modern competitions, the ability to use multiple kicks without setting the foot down has become a viable option, not only for effectiveness but also for stylish aesthetics. In Taekwon-Do, three types of multiple kick are distinguished: Double kick (i-jung chagi) - two kicks of the same type executed in succession by the same foot in the same direction. Consecutive kick (yonsok chagi) - two or more kicks executed in succession by the same foot but in different directions, or with different attacking tools. Combination kick (honhap chagi) - two or more kicks executed in succession by both feet. One such Multiple Kick commonly seen in Taekwondo, is a slightly complex Side Kick where a High Side Kick is followed by a Low Side Kick which is in turn followed by a more powerful Side Kick. This combination is done rapidly and is meant not for multiple targets but for a single one. The Multiple Kick usually targets the face, thigh, and chest, but in turn can be a multiple chest attack which is useful for knocking the breath out of an

Scissor kick
Several kicks may be called a scissor kick, involving swinging out the legs to kick multiple targets or using the legs to take down an opponent. The popularized version of a scissor kick is, while lying down, or jumping, the kicker brings both legs to both sides of the opponent’s legs or to their body and head, then


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attacker. The Multiple Kick is usually done in the "second" style described in the Side Kick article which "involves shooting the leg forward as you would in a front kick and then pivoting and turning so that you actually deliver a side kick." That style "has far less power but is much faster and more deceptive", which is what the Multiple Kick was designed for. The Multiple Kick, unlike some Side Kicks or "side blade kicks", never uses the outer edge of the foot; it’s intended solely for the heel to be used as the impact point. Depending on the strength and skill of the attacker and the attacked, the combination can be highly-effective or highly-ineffective when compared to more pragmatic attacks. In some encounters with highly trained and conditioned fighters, multiple side-kicks have seen disastrous results against the abs of their targets.

are primarily performed for conditioning or aesthetic reasons. The proponents has viewed that some high front snap kicks are effective for striking the face or throat, particularly against charging opponents, and flying kicks can be effective to scare off attackers. Some contrasting views have stated that high kicks are completely ineffective as it would be much quicker and more probable to be able to strike the throat, nose or face with a palm strike for the face or a claw hand to strike at or choke the throat. It has been noted that high kicks(and other complicated kicks for that matter) can be almost impossible to perform in an actual confrontation due to the adrenal shock that one experiences in a stressful situation. This "adrenal dump" as it is called by some experts, causes the body to lose the ability of fine motor control, which is what many traditional high kicks require to perform. Additionally, high kicks nearly always expose the groin, inviting a swift kick to the area from an agile opponent. As a result, the utilizing of high kicks in defensive situations is considered risky at best for anyone but highly skilled martial artists. The general consensus is that for most defense and combat applications, simple kicks aimed at vulnerable targets below the chest may be highly efficient but should be executed with a degree of care. Thus, the fighter should not compromise his/hers balance while delivering a kick, and retract the leg properly to avoid grappling. The front kick could be aimed at the groin/pelvis area, knees and shins, inflicting respectable damage. The defensive side kick is a great move for stopping a blitzing opponent. The roundhouse kick performed at low level may be effective due to its power, since attacking leg muscles will often cripple opponent’s mobility, however the technique still throws a fighter’s balance off and leaves them vulnerable. It is often recommended to build and drill simple combinations that involve attacking different levels of opponents. A common example would be distracting an opponent’s focus via a fake jab, following up with a powerful attack at the opponent’s legs and punching.

Practicality of kicks
The usefulness of kicks in self-defense and actual combat has been debated. Some, like Bruce Lee, have commented that the leg, thanks to its size and weight, is a more powerful weapon than the arm. Because the leg is longer than the arm, kicks tend to keep an opponent at a distance and to surprise him or her with their range. Many have reported successfully using kicks in real-life self-defense situations, and some modern combat systems such as Krav Maga, intended primarily for self-defense and combat, have incorporated kicks.

A sensei execute the flying side kick to his partner On the other hand, the high kicks practiced in traditional martial arts or the flying/ jumping kicks performed in synthesis styles

See also
• Dynamic stretching


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New York, NY, USA: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.. pp. 37–40. ISBN 1-4027-2707-0.

[1] Lee, Soon Man; Ricke, Gaetane (1999). Official Taekwondo Training Manual.

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