Side Kick

A taekwondo Side Kick

See Category:Kick for a list of taekwondo kicks included in this wiki.

As a martial art, taekwondo is characterized especially by its kicking (chagi in Korean). Taekwondo is known for its head-height kicks, jumping kicks, and spinning kicks. 

Arc Kicks vs. Linear KicksEdit

Most kicks in taekwondo travel in an arc toward the target. For example, in the Front Kick, the knee is raised to point at the target, then the foot travels in an arc to the target using the raised knee as the point of pivot. The arc-like motion of most taekwondo kicks is even more apparent in kicks such as the Roundhouse Kick, the Crescent Kick, the Axe Kick, etc.

In comparison, only a few kicks in taekwondo utilize a linear, thrusting motion. Examples include the many variations on the Side Kick and the Back Kick. In ITF-style taekwondo, linear kicks are sometimes called piercing or thrusting kicks.

Interestingly, the Side Kick is strongly associated with taekwondo, to the extent that it's often used in taekwondo logos, even though it is a linear kick rather than the more common arc-based kicks.

Variations of KicksEdit

Most kicks can be varied in fairly standard way to form new kicks. In some cases, the name of the new kick will not necessarily indicate the basic underlying kick. For example, there are many variations of a Tornado Kick, but the most common variation involves a 360 degree pivot preceding a Roundhouse Kick; the name tornado does not hint at the underlying basic kick, roundhouse.

More often though, the name of the variation references the basic underlying kick. As a simple example, a Jump Front Kick is a Front Kick in which one jumps during the kick. Some common modifiers for kicks include:

  • Jumping - usually used to indicate that the performer jumps during the kick, in order to increase the height of the kick.
    • Note that jump kicks can be broadly categorized into two groups, those in which the kicking leg is also the jumping leg (i.e., you jump off the foot that you kick with, as in a Jump Front Kick) or those in which the off-leg is the jumping leg (such as with a Jump Side Kick).
  • Flying - like a jump kick, but usually involving a running lead-in so that the jump travels horizontally as well as vertically.
  • Spinning or Reverse - usually used to indicate that the performer spins during the lead-in to the kick, so that the kick will gain additional force via increased angular momentum. If the spin is performed so that you first turn away from the target before kick, the kick might be called a Reverse kick.
  • 360, 540, or 720 - an additional modifier applied to spinning kicks to indicate how many times the body rotates during the kick 
  • Fast, Leading, or Skip - usually indicate that the kick is performed with the leading foot (rather than the rear foot) in order to increase the speed with which the kick is executed. Fast/Leading kicks usually deliver less impact, since the foot has not had a chance to develop much momentum. Fast/Leading kicks often require a skipping motion off the rear leg, so they are also called Skip kicks. For example, a Roundhouse Kick where you kick with the lead leg might be called a Fast Roundhouse, a Leading-leg Roundhouse, or a Skip Roundhouse.
  • Low, Middle, High - like strikes and blocks, the height of a kick is often specified by modifiers such as Low, Middle, and High. High usually means about head-height. Low usually means below the belt.

The names of the basic underlying kicks generally correspond to a direction of motion. For example:

The above list is by no means exhaustive. When combined with the aforementioned modifiers however, it results in a dizzying array of possible kicks. See Category:Kick for a list of kicks described on this wiki.

Striking SurfacesEdit

Kicks can also be characterized by what part of the foot strikes the target. Typical striking surfaces include the top of the foot, the inside edge, the outside edge (the "blade"), the balls of the toes, and the heels. See main article Striking Surfaces for more detail.

The striking surface of any particular kick is usually implied by the name of the kick. For example, Side Kicks strike with the outside edge (the "blade") of the foot. For some kicks, however, the striking surface depends on the style of taekwondo. For example, ITF-style taekwondo strikes with the ball of the foot in a Front Kick, while WTF-style taekwondo strikes with the top of the foot in a Front Kick.

Variants: Forms vs. Sparring vs. BreakingEdit

The striking surface of a kick can also depend on whether the kick is being performed for formssparring or breaking. For example, in Kukkiwon/WTF-style taekwondo, the Front Kick is normally performed with the toes fully extended so that the top of the foot forms the striking surface; this extends the reach of the kick but provides a relatively weak striking surface. For that same style of taekwondo, however, the Front Kick is performed with the toes pulled back when performing forms.

Also, when performing taekwondo forms, each unique kick typically has its own unique chamber. When sparring however, giving each kick a unique chamber is considered a poor practice, since it telegraphs to your opponent the kind of upcoming kick to expect. For this reason, it is more common in taekwondo sparring to see a more "neutral" chamber for taekwondo kicks, as competitors try to mask from their opponent the kind of kick being performed.

Kicking CombinationsEdit


An example of typical kicking combination drills for color-belts

In taekwondo schools, it is commonplace to also drill on kicking combinations. In other words, you practice perform a prescribed sequence of kicks in order to (a) better learn how to transition from one kick to the next, and (b) develop muscle memory for combinations that might be useful in sparring or self-defense.

See Also Edit

References Edit

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