Roundhouse Kick: Muay Thai and Taekwondo

Muay Thai Roundhouse Kick versus Traditional Taekwondo Roundhouse Kick

I actually embedded a clip talking about the Muay Thai roundhouse kick but it seems to have been taken down. So I've searched for a new clip from youtube and came up with this one. First off, I really dislike it that he calls it a 'damn foot'. Second ... I think that floppity foot shows an amateur technician. But saying that, the following text refers to the previous clip - which isn't there anymore, and I apologise for not yet updating this information. But it is still pertinent.

***old discussion on Muay Thai Roundhouse vs Traditional Taekwondo Roundhouse***

This is some random martial arts video I picked up from youtube searching for 'Roundhouse kicks'. The guy is not an unskilled kicker - though he seems to like the sound of his voice. He may benefit from some instructional skills. But not a bad attempt at all.

I'd just like to go through what he says about the roundhouse kick.

First up, he says "round kicks in general ..." and I like that because the basic roundhouse kick I was taught and continue to teach in Traditional Taekwondo hits with the ball of the foot rather than the instep as he says. I have learned that long range instep roundhouse kick variety and also use it to great effect in sparring, but that's beside the point.

Ours is a very conservative roundhouse kick done on a horizontal plane, and does not require the practitioner to lean back to extend the kick out far. In fact the roundhouse kick is more like a front kick done on a horizontal plane. The abs and obliques are tensed (or utilised) in order to generate power without a lot of extraneous movement. If the opponent were standing side on to the practitioner, the kick would hit the opponent straight from the front or the back. It is not angled upward nor would it have a tangential angle of entry. Check out my response to Mireille's post on topic of roundhouse kicks.

The roundhouse kick that he represents as being a Taekwondo roundhouse is a modified variation off the basic traditional roundhouse kick that we learn. When I started it was called a 'turning kick,' but irrespective of the name, this is the roundhouse kick that we learn in our 2nd kyu pattern Hwa-rang (that's one away from black belt). It is still kicking with the ball of the foot but leveled on a target directly in front of the practitioner. Meaning if the opponent is side on to me, I'd be kicking him in his ribs.

If you were going for an instep roundhouse kick, I'd assume you'd want to snap the kick like he says. In fact, in general, all kicks should be snapped. Funakoshi Sensei, the Father of Karate, says that all kicks should come back as fast as they go out; this covers all of the basic kicks from my style. However, whether you'd choose for the kick to be a light jab or gap closing type of kick, or if you want it to be a more powerful penetrative one depends on the situation at hand.

He says that Taekwondo roundhouse kicks are now done for speed and are more like "half roundhouse" kicks. I teach that the front kick describes a vertical angle of entry and the roundhouse the horizontal angle of entry - and that all slices between the two are legitimate kicks that are applicable dependent on the target available. So the weapon is chosen for the target, rather than for the pure objective of speed.

I also think that it is strategically more sound to be able to modulate the kind of power (see Power Generation and Common Sense) used in the kick throughout the cycle of the kick. What I mean is in direct regard to the Muay Thai roundhouse he is demonstrating. He says something like "unlike the snap or whip of the Taekwondo roundhouse, the Muay Thai kick is more like a baseball bat". My opinion is that the person using kicks in actual combat or self defence needs to be real smart about the kick; kicks are risky, they open you up, and you have a high chance of missing. So any kick that requires you to wind up and then power through is only great for one thing - competitions.

I would also add that most of the kicks he is performing, both representing his idea of Taekwondo or Muay Thai styles would benefit from him bending his support knee just a little more. It's fine to do what he's doing on the mat - straight support leg. But if you're in combat mode, I'd be choosing control over how I extend my leg and retract it. The bent support leg makes for better overall control of body dynamics - though it looks much less glamorous.



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