Taekwondo Side Kick of Won-hyo
The Taekwondo Side Kick is the second kicking technique appearing in Traditional Taekwondo. It appears in Won-hyo and is called yoko geri in Japanese. If the front kick is a kick known for its ease and speed, the Traditional Taekwondo side kick should be known for its power and penetration. One of my martial arts instructors said that the side kick is the most difficult to perform of all the 'non-gimmicky' kicks. He was right.
There is more than one side kick in Taekwondo's Won-hyoThere are two side kicks that appear in Won-hyo Hyung! It's true! One requires you to take a step back and prompts you to think about it as a defensively applied side kick in response to an opponent's attack. The second one is an offensive penetrative side kick going forward.
The kick from won-hyo we practiced last was a basic side-on side kick. We stood the students facing 135 degrees away from the target (pointing bodies to 8 0'clock or 5 O'clock), raising their knees at about 90 degrees away from the target and then firing the blade of the foot at their targets. We started with the motion in the air, then progressed to working with an opponent (holding hands for stability), and then worked on the kick shield.
Maintaining dynamic balance with the side kickCOG for the side kick has to be between the support foot and the target, and should tend towards the striking area. Not to do so is a mistake a lot of beginners or non-kickers make. Such kicks look great in the air but rarely do much of the damage that side kicks are capable of. Also to the the foot rotating in the right direction, there needs to be some vertical rotation in the hip (bearing about 135 degrees away from the target) - so that the kicker's gluteus maximus moves toward the target area. (If you have problems with your side kick, you should look at my post Calibrating the Side Kick.)
Maintaining control means not locking out the legs while doing the side kickAnother critical success factor for the taekwondo side kick is to remain level whilst kicking or drop the support leg lower (allowing the knee to maintain some bend). Standing up or tensing the shoulder muscles whilst kicking AND straightening the support leg reduces maneuverability, and doesn't allow for dynamic support. The base leg has to be involved in the entire movement. The kicking leg goes forward, and thus the support leg has to move in the opposite direction based on vector forces.
Which part of the foot to use for the side kick?Blade or heel of the foot? I didn't stress much on this last night. Typically I kick with the blade of the foot - but lately, with suspected joint inflammation/arthritis developing in one of my hip joints, I've opted to reduce as much torque on the hips as possible. So I've been experimenting with focusing power into the heel and adding a little more 'snap' in the leg extension - so the lower leg travels faster. This seems to increase power and keep my joints happy.
We'll talk about this image in later posts.
Targeting the Opponent with the Side KickThe side kick is 'punched' out from the hip to the opponent in a straight line. If we are not discussing tactical advantage, the best way to launch this kick is when it is fired parallel to the ground. This achieves the longest reach and allows the kicker to generate a good amount of power. This is counter intuitive for Taekwondo practitioners - raising the side kick reduces its power, decreases it's reach, and opens your groin up for counters. Tactically it is most sound to raise the knee to chamber but fire the kick downward to the thigh or knee or even apply it as a foot stomp to the shin or instep.
For a comparison of the basic side kick, check out Taekwondo Side Kick: Yul-guk v Won-hyo. The post compares the side kick as it is introduced in Won-hyo and later how it is practiced in Yul-guk. The following video compares this side kick from Won-hyo to a thrusting side kick - a variant we practice for close quarter encounters.
- Won Hyo: Deflection of the Side Kick
- Calibrating the Side Kick
- Shotokan's YOKO GERI KEAGE
- Okinawan Sokuto Geri
- Back to the Roots 3 - Bending Ready Stance, sidekick
- Side Kick Essay
- Side Kick Striking Surface
- Taekwondo Kicks for Real Fighting
If you liked this post, check out Roundhouse Kick Muay Thai v Taekwondo and if you want a combo to make an offensive side kick work nicely, check out Nat's post High Low Combination Jab - Side Kick. Don't forget to read through the comments on the end of this post - some are quite good.
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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