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Kicks are strikes that involve the legs, knees, feet or toes. Depending on the intention of the practitioner, his power and/or speed, simple kicks, like the front, side, back or roundhouse kick, can generally be performed one of two ways. First, the practitioner can deliver the kick with a quick snap of the knee and hips. Second, he can deliver it with a powerful hip thrust in which he locks his knees to deliver a focused straight-leg kick.

Advanced kicks require better balance, speed and flair on the part of the practitioner for successful delivery. These kicks include the ax, butterfly, calf, crescent, flying, hook, jumping, multiple in which the same foot kicks many times, spinning with half- or full-body rotation, jumping spin kicks with up to three body rotations in midair, and vertical kicks. These kicks also can be delivered in combinations with each other.

Besides being used as offensive weapons, some styles employ kicks to push back an opponent or to block and/or deflect an attacker’s strikes.

Until Asian martial arts became mainstream in Europe and North America in the 1970s, kicking during fights was considered cowardly. This misperception came about because of American and British attitudes in World War I and II toward French savate practitioners. Because French savateurs kicked, anyone who kicked during a fight was considered weak. Fortunately, times have changed.

  1. Self-Defense for Minimalists: The Only Kick You Will Ever Need

    Self-Defense for Minimalists: The Only Kick You Will Ever Need