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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