Arbi Sain
Arbi Sain
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splits training

There is nothing I see here against them. Ippon for a head high kick, and a waza-ari for above the waist but below the head.

Side kicks appear in the Shotokan Heian forms, but the older Pinan forms all seem to use a front kick. A front kick tends to require less hip flexibility to do to a higher target, and the hips can stay facing the opponent. Because the hips stay facing, it is possible to grab, block, and strike with both or either of your hands while doing a front kick but this is much harder to do with a sidekick as there is some rotation in the torso. Also, that rotation can be used by an opponent to get behind you. The front kick is also often faster IMO. The front kick can lift up to a sweep, but a side kick to the leg tends to stomp down. Attacks to the limbs are prohibited behavior. Excessive contact is also prohibited.

Side kicks are great for lower targets or an attack from the side. It’s great when you are wearing footwear. Kumite does not lend itself to getting attacked from the side and joint destruction is frowned upon.

side kick karate

Kumite games can mean many things are not used, but that does not mean the techniques are not useful. The gladiator style combat just restricts what techniques might work best.

Firstly, their opponent is letting them hit them. If they were to execute the kick correctly, well, down the line they will get payback I am sure. This is the sort of shinanegans pro wrestling was created to avoid.

Secondly, marks need to see the kick coming and have a 10 second lead up to it. A real opponent won't do that. As soon as he sees you hop towards him he will take half a step back (if you are lucky) or a diagonal step forward outside it and smack you through the jaw (if you are unlucky).

Yokogeri are more like jabs with the feet. They are used for distancing and setting up other attacks. It is rare they work on their own.

I was going to say I am surprised they don't use maegeri front kicks, but then I saw Andrew McIntire do one, and no, that wouldn't work in real life either.

My verdict
The Korean method is the best: heel a little high and toes lower. It doesn’t matter if you have all the 5 toes in the same plane, or big toe up / other toes down, as some prefer. The standing foot points directly backwards.

With a left kick (preferred), the hips are not both in the same vertical plane: the left hip has slightly over-rotated and a plumb line connected to the point of the left hip bone would not touch the right hip in its path to the ground - the left hip ‘sees’ the ground clear of the right hip. This is why I say there is a small back kick component in this Korean side kick method.

It is by far the most powerful especially when used with a massive inertial power-up, as they like to do. The optimum method for this is called sliding-in side kick, in the Chung Do Kwan school where we learned in Korea:

  • Stage 1, for learners: standing left foot forward, to deliver the left side kick, the object being to deliver it at long range and with maximum power - turn side on and step in with the right foot behind the left foot and past it. The back is slightly turned to the target at this point. Kick with left side kick. Return to guard.
  • Stage 2: step faster and kick faster. This is a much used technique though too slow for TKD. The move is correctly termed stepping-in side kick.
  • Stage 3: now step and kick at the same time. The kick fires off before the right foot touches the ground, and at impact the right foot has just touched the ground to root the kick. This is beyond a fast step-in sidekick - more a skip - and much used. The striking point is the edge of the heel. Because it is used a lot to the body, the whole of the edge of the foot connects, but the force is mostly transmitted by the heel. Many foot positions are used for this kick but I never saw any particular advantage to any one of them (e.g. kicking with the foot in regular position not turned edge-on), and I spent many years working this move with others in contact fights and door work (my very first night on a door job I knocked over a troublemaker with this move), and never saw any version that worked appreciably better than the basic edge-on method.
  • Stage 4: now slide in a fair distance with this jump-step method, going for max power and distance. Practice on a bag. This is a hard-hitting move that experts use to easily knock an opponent backwards with, and can be used to send someone flying back over a table or whatever.
  • splits training
    It has a specific type of power: a mass shifter not a bone breaker. In other words you can send people flying with it but it is less likely to break the ribs than an effective punch to the ribs by a specialist in that type of move.
Arbi Sain