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Leg attacks


Some martial arts, such as taekwondo and savate, specialize in and are known for their leg attacks and kicking expertise. To ever to become proficient at taekwondo, you must master the kicking techniques.

Korean influence taekwondo kicking

Korea historically has been known for its great handiwork and culture. Hands were a source of livelihood and for creating beautiful objects, and, as such, they were considered impractical for fighting. As a result, kicking was developed to protect hands from damage and a possible loss of income.

Korea is a very mountainous country. Traditionally, its people have traveled by walking. Walking over mountains and steep terrain for long periods greatly increases muscular strength in the legs. Additionally, the heavy shoes used for walking made effective weapons.

Koreans traditionally practiced games and activities requiring a great deal of skill. Historically, taekkyeon (the precursor to taekwondo) contests were played with kicking the head earning the highest number points—a tradition still used in modern taekwondo free-sparring.
Koreans realized that the legs, being longer and stronger than the arms, could make better weapons than the arms.

Most people fear kicks and feel they are the most dangerous techniques in taekwondo. Kicks are powerful, but punches are the most dangerous techniques. In some professional fighting sports, there are minimum kicking requirements. If kicks are so deadly, why must professional fighters be forced to kick? To encourage more kicking in taekwondo sparring competition, more points are awarded for kicks, jump kicks, and kicks to the head.

Kicks versus punches

  • Kicks are slower than punches, so they are easier to block.
  • Kicks are more powerful than punches.
  • You need lots of space around you to use a kick.
  • The ability to use a kick depends on your clothing, your footwear, and the surface on which you are standing.
  • Kicks have further to travel to their target than punches, so they are easier to block.
  • Kicks use more energy than punches, so more punches may be thrown for the same amount of energy.
  • Punching is instinctive for humans, kicking must be learned.
  • Punches are easier to control and direct than kicks, so it's more effective to use them to strike moving, evading, guarded targets, such as the head.
  • To kick, you must stand on one leg, or no legs if jumping, which makes you less stable.

Leg attacks other than kicks

  • Shins. The shins have long thick bones used to support our body weight, so they make excellent weapons. Some martial arts, such as muay thai, specialize in using shin strikes.
  • Knees. The knees are closer to the hips so, when using them for strikes, extra power is gained from the effects of leverage. An upward knee strike to the head can be deadly. In addition, the knees are pointed so they make excellent weapons when used to attack an opponent's thigh muscles—kill the roots and the tree will die.

  • Turtle Press. (2002). [Online], Available: [2002, October 21].

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