Techniques>Kicks>Side kicks

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Side kicks


Side kicks are performed outward from the side of the body with the kicker's body nearly perpendicular to the target. Side kicks may be used both offensively and defensively.

Side snap kick

The side snap kick is used by most styles of karate and was used in taekwondo during its formative years when it was heavily influenced by the shotokan katate training of its founders. Nowadays, when it is rarely used in taekwondo. When it’s used, it may because the user thinks it is the best kick to use under the circumstances, or it may because the kicker is just performing a sloppy side thrust kick.

To perform a side snap kick:
  • Chamber. Lift the kicking knee upward until the kicking foot is even with the other knee with the shin held vertical or pulled backward toward the other knee.
  • Foot shape. Hold the kicking foot parallel to the floor with the toes pulled backward, and the outer edge of the sole angled toward the target in a foot-sword shape.
  • Striking surface. The striking surface is the outer edge of the sole, usually at the heel.
  • Support foot. The support foot is perpendicular to the target with heel pointed 90-degrees toward the side.
  • Action. The foot is snapped toward the target and quickly retracted.
  • Pros:
  • The kick is quick, easy to perform, and easy to score with to the middle section. 
  • The kick is highly effective in self-defense situations when used against the opponent's knee. 
  • The upward movement of the kick lets it slip under an opponent's guard.
  • Cons:
  • You can’t snap the body mass into the kick, so it isn’t a powerful kick. You may see the kick used in board breaking, but not many boards can be broken with the side snap kick as with the side thrust kick. 
  • The kick’s upward movement to the target makes it easy to block with the arms or hands, easy to stop by using a vertical leg chamber, and the kick may get trapped under the opponent's kick and result in your kick being a low blow. 
  • Since the kick is chambered with the shin nearly vertical, it’s easy to jam the kick using a side snap kick or a front angled kick.

Side thrust kick

The side thrust kick is the signature taekwondo kick. If you cannot perform a near perfect side thrust kick, you shouldn’t call yourself a taekwondo black belt.

The side thrust kick is uniquely different from the side snap kick that is used in most other martial arts styles. The side thrust kick is one the most powerful kicks the human body may produce since it uses the biggest muscles and more muscle groups than any other kick.

To perform a side thrust kick:
  • Chamber. The kicking knee is lifted high, upward, and back toward the opposite side of the body with the shin and foot aimed at the target.
  • Foot shape. The kicking foot is held with the toes pulled backward, the ball angled downward with the heel upward and the outer edge of the heel aimed toward the target.
  • Striking surface. The striking surface is the outer edge of the heel.
  • Support foot. The support foot pivots until it’s perpendicular to the target with the heel pointing toward the target.
  • Action. The kicking knee moves upward and backward and then is thrust toward the target and quickly re-chambered. The knee is the prime mover, the foot only moves because it is attached to the knee.

    Maintain a straight line through the body to add the mass of the body to the kick instead of just relying on the muscle power of the leg. Imagine delivering a side thrust kick to a brick wall when the kicking hip and leg are in line, but the body is not. Upon impact with the wall, the reaction force will travel back down the leg to the hip, and the hip will rotate the trunk and be absorbed. However, if the kicking leg, hips, and support leg are held in a relatively straight line, the reaction force will travel back and forth between the ground and the kicking foot, giving maximum power to the kick.
  • Pros:
  • The kick difficult to jam since the shin is parallel to the floor. 
  • The kick allows the hip to snap, thrust, and roll the body mass into the kick for maximum power. The side thrust kick can break more boards than any other kick. 
  • From a high chamber, it’s easy to kick toward the high, middle, or low sections so the opponent never knows where the kick is targeted. 
  • The kick is nearly impossible to block; it must be evaded.
  • Cons:
  • Since there are so many movements that must be coordinated, the kick is difficult to perform properly. 
  • Since the kick requires total commitment, it is easy to evade and, if the opponent gets inside the kick, the kicker is vulnerable.
Side thrust kick tips:
  • Chamber kicking knee toward opposite shoulder.
  • Keep the shin of kicking leg parallel to the floor
  • When you thrust your kicking foot forward, use your thigh muscles, not your knee muscles, to generate power.
  • Push the knee and shin toward the target, not the foot. Since the foot is at the end of the shin, it will hit the target first.
  • Roll your hips over into the kick just before impact.
  • Pull kicking knee back into a re-chamber, do not pull the kicking foot back, it will come back with the knee.

Other side kicks

  • Side rising kick
  • Jump side thrust kick
  • Spin side thrust kick
  • Jump-spin side thrust kick
  • Flying side thrust kick. This kick is also great for breaking boards. The key is to tuck in the non-kicking leg. 
  • 360 jump-spin side thrust kick

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