Basic Taekwondo Kick a Misnomer

The term 'basic' when used to describe a 'Basic Taekwondo kick' or one of the few simple kicking techniques is a misnomer. Basic kicks are typically undervalued short range kicking techniques found in low level Taekwondo patterns. Talk about basic kicks would probably include the front kick and the roundhouse kick.

Short Range Taekwondo Kick

A front kick is done on a vertical plane where the roundhouse kick is done on a horizontal plane. The short range kick done either on the horizon or the vertical line 'compresses' the body, generating power because the upper body and the lower body crunch closer together - using many more muscles to generate power for the kick and using the body as a relatively stable counterweight.

When I think of short range kicks, I think of the kicking tool in complement to my hands. I am grabbing on to the attacker AND kicking him. I am trapping his hand AND breaking his knee. I am in a clinch and attacking his shin without letting go. In this way, the full power of the kick goes into the attacker's body ... rather than be deflected by a body that is freely moving in space.

The long range version of these kicks seem to be valued more because they are flashier techniques taught at more senior levels. Beginners might use them to keep a non-compliant attacker at bay. More advanced students use long range kicks to 'score' points on opponents.

Long Range Taekwondo Kicks

Long range techniques require an expansion of the body - meaning both the upper body and lower body travel further away from each other in contrast to short range kicks. In the case of the long range roundhouse kick, the body generates power in a pendulum swing - using the upper body as a counter weight that swings away from the leg, and the hip as a fulcrum. Power is generated by the acceleration of the leg. In my mind therefore, there is an upper limit of power that is more easily reached by long range technique - where short range techniques may have better upper limits because they use the body as a closed system to translate more muscle strength into kicking strength.

Improving Your Understanding of Taekwondo Kicks

The vertical and horizontal plane establish the outer parameters for these two kicks. Each slice between zero and ninety degrees are legitimate kicks.

Two exercises that allow a practitioner to explore the versatility of kicks are 1) exercises to challenge the practitioner to land the technique on a small target and 2) exercises the challenge the practitioner to be aware of the flight path of the technique whilst landing the strike on target

Landing the technique through obstacles and weaseling the foot through three dimensional space forces the practitioner to rotate the hip on the vertical and horizontal and extend it sufficiently for it to land on small targets on the opponent's body. Understanding the flight path of a kick allows you to take advantage of blind spots from the opponent's point of view (e.g. under arms, behind shoulders, or under outstretched legs.)

Last Words

I urge all practitioners not to devalue the short range Taekwondo kick - it is a devastating part of your arsenal and has to be the cornerstone on which all kicks are based. 


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SooShimKwan said…
Yes, this is terribly important: "to be aware of the flight path of the technique". I have often found that once students truly understand the angle at which a technique penetrates the target, their technique improves noticably.

I agree that the turning kick (roundhouse kick) travels on a horizontal plane, but I'm wondering however about the front kick's path. Do you really think it travels on a vertical plane only? This is definitely the case were the kick targeting the groin or under the chin, but usually we use the front kick for attacking the ribs, lower abdomen, solar plexus. In these cases the kick reaches the targets perpendicularly, i.e. on a horizontal plane. Or are we doing our front kicks a little different?
Colin Wee said…
I think it depends if you're talking about a short range (front snapping) or a long range (thrusting) front kick. The short range kick is great for when you've dragged the opponent halfway bent over by the hair, and you're kicking upwards into the chest region. The thrusting kick, is as you say applied to the ribs and lower abdomen whilst he's standing and requires the leg to travel and punch out in a straight line from your hip to the targetted area. If however you look at all options available, the front kick can come upwards vertically (behind a blocking arm), then make a detour towards the opponent through the thrusting of the hips and flexing of the ankle. Something for you to try ... get your opponent to hold out a lower block somewhere around his hip about one fist away from his body. Use a front kick and try to sink power into the ribs. Let me know how it goes ....

I have always had a problem with kicking since I have a medical problem with my hip. But I am going to try some of the suggestions in the blog to see if it helps.
Colin Wee said…
What exactly is the hip problem you have Kenneth?

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