IntroThe front kick is the easiest kick to perform and it is usually the first kick taught new students, so it’s the first kick discussed in the Kicks topic.
The front kick is relatively simple to perform, but it’s a widely used, effective, and versatile kick. I once had a Korean instructor who would fire a front kick toward your face, let his foot drop down to your chest, use his toes to grab the front of your uniform, and then pull you in range for a series of hand attacks. He could use his toes as easily as you use your fingers.
Many of the things discussed in the front kick are also applicable to the other types of kicks so it is discussed in greater detail.
Front snap kickThe kick is used to strike the head, torso, or groins or to set up a hand attack.
- Foot position. The foot is angled forward, with the toes curled backward.
- Striking surface. Strike with the ball of the foot.
- Kicking movements
- Chamber the knee high in front of the abdomen with the foot pulled backward, keeping the leg inward toward center line to protect the groin. The kick is straightforward from the knee so raise the knee so that the knee and thigh point at the target.
- Keep the guard up and avoid hunching the shoulders or allowing elbows to move away from the body.
- When chambering the kick, begin by lifting the kicking foot by raising the heel first and then springing the foot upward off the ball of the foot. The springing action quick and it sets the correct foot shape for the kick.
- As you kick, the support foot may remain stationary or twist into the kick. The kick is more powerful without the twist, but the twist adds range and presents less of the body as a target.
- To increase range, you can allow your supporting foot to be dragged forward by the force of the kicking action. When kicking a heavier opponent, this forward movement may help resist the recoil from the impact more effectively than would kicking from a rigid stance.
- Keep your center of mass over the support foot. Power comes from the thrusting action, not from a forward movement of the center of mass. The thrusting action possesses a great deal of momentum and tends to pull the body after it, causing a forced forward step, so re-chamber the kicking foot quickly into a stable state of balance. If you must step forward, step outside the opponent's lead foot so you will not be vulnerable to a foot sweep.
- Motion. The knee is pointed at the target and the lower leg is snapped into the kick with a thrusting motion. The knee must be raised high enough that the foot does not slide up the surface of the target.
- Direction. Most people think of a front kick as being executed toward the front, but, unless you are fighting from a basic front stance, you will actually be executing the front kick toward the side. For example, think of firing a lead leg front kick from a back stance; the kick is actually firing outward to the side.
- Contact. The traditional front kick uses the ball of the foot to strike the opponent. This is an effective way to kick since the striking area is small. It focuses the power, and the padding on the sole of the foot protects the bones of the foot from injury. To kick this way, the foot is angled forward, and the toes are pulled backward to protect them.
- Pointing the foot and pulling the toes backward by muscular action slows the kick because it stiffens the movement of the knee joint. A compromise is to pull the toes back only enough to prevent them from striking first and then letting them naturally flex backward even more at impact.
- The instep of the kicking foot should line up with the shin. Dropping the heel too low causes ankle to flex and it may collapse, causing injury during a hard impact.
- Practice correct foot position by standing on the balls of the feet with the heels held high.
Some styles, such as uechi-ryu, use the big toe as the striking area for the front kick, but this is dangerous to the kicker. The heel may also be used as the striking area; the toes point upward or outward and the heel is pushed forward so it strikes first.
- Variations. The front kick may be performed with the leading or trailing foot. Since there is not much hip twist and less acceleration distance, the leading leg kick is faster but it’s less powerful than the trailing leg version. However, it is useful for checking an onrushing opponent since the opponent supplies much of the impact force. With the lead leg kick, be prepared to project the body mass forward, otherwise, the recoil may drive you backward. Jumps may also be added to the front kick.
Front thrust kick
- The kicking movements are the same as for the front kick except instead of the foot snapping into the target, the foot is thrust through the target. Instead of the leg snapping from the hip, the hip is thrust forward to push the foot into and through the target.
- During the chamber, the knee rises higher than the target and then drops as the foot extends and the hip is thrust behind the kick. Although the leg and knee may move in many directions, the foot itself moves in a straight line from the floor to the target.
- The front thrust kick is not as powerful as the front kick, since it applies its force over a longer period, but it is effective when used to attack the target while also pushing the opponent away to give you more room to use other more powerful techniques.
Angular front kickThe kick is used to stop, intercept, check, or deflect an incoming kick before, or just after, it is executed.
- Foot position. The foot is vertical but angled outward.
- Striking surface. Strike with the sole of the foot.
- Kicking movements. The kick is performed like the front thrust kick, except the foot is twisted so the sole of the foot makes contact. At contact, the leg pushes outward some and then re-chambers.