back kick

A student of taekwondo authority Y.H. Park dissects the mechanics of the push kick and outlines a number of drills that can lead you to proficiency.

As the quality of the competition and techniques seen in taekwondo continues to improve, the push kick is emerging as one of the most potent weapons used by today’s martial arts athletes. “It works for anyone,” says Yeon Hwan Park, coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team and head coach of the 1991 Pan-American Games team. “If timed properly, the push kick can be a devastating maneuver. It allows a competitor to get maximum power from his kick, enabling him to use his leg reach and strength to his maximum ability. Competitors are discovering this more and more.” As a result, Park says, practitioners are developing innovative ways to employ this powerful technique. Ideally, the push kick will make contact with the heel, but the ball of the foot also works, the author says. “The push kick combines thrust with snap,” Yeon Hwan Park says. “If done at the right time, you can combine the force of your opponent’s attack with a great deal of your own body’s power.” That results in a powerful kick, but it must be refined through practice. To throw a taekwondo push kick, lift the knee of your rear leg to your chest. Slide your supporting leg forward as you do, then shoot out your kicking leg in a piston-like fashion. Try to land your foot directly on your opponent’s chest or face. Ideally, you should strike with your heel, but if distance doesn’t permit, the ball of your foot can suffice.

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International correspondent Antonio Graceffo heads to Bangkok in search of the real story behind Ong-Bak star Tony Jaa in this exclusive series! In Part 1, he's granted a rare interview with Jaa's parents.

Just when most moviegoers were ready to abandon all hope that a fresh face would ever appear in martial arts cinema, we got Tony Jaa, star of 2003's Ong-Bak. As an added bonus, he brought with him a deadly new fighting style. In the blink of an eye, the sacred Thai art of pounding a person senseless with the knees and elbows was introduced to the world. Aside from having the most incredible fight scenes ever and showing us Bangkok rather than Hong Kong, Ong-Bak is an important movie for two reasons. It was the first major film to feature muay Thai and the first Thai movie to have wide distribution in the States — all thanks to a high-flying martial artist from the jungles of Southeast Asia. And now Tony Jaa is making the leap from Bangkok to Hollywood thanks to his recent casting in the upcoming Fast & Furious 7, helmed by Saw director James Wan and starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and veteran actor Kurt Russell. Watch a video of Vin Diesel and Tony Jaa training:

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In this excerpt from Kenji Yamaki's Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning 2-DVD set, the 100-man-kumite survivor shows you two counters for the one-two punch.

Now available from Black Belt Magazine Video is the two-DVD karate set from kyokushintechniques master Kenji Yamaki! Titled Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning, this exciting collection demonstrates karate moves that Kenji Yamaki often teaches his advanced students. Kenji Yamaki was one of the top kyokushin karate competitors in Japan. Upon immigrating to the United States and setting up shop at Yamaki Karate in Torrance, California, Kenji Yamaki began teaching his own style of hard-core karate, which he dubbed yamaki-ryu. Having trained extensively in a system made famous by Masutatsu Oyama’s intense striking techniques, Kenji Yamaki's style favors kyokushin techniques laced with kicks that are frighteningly powerful and lightning fast.

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You may have seen karate master Kenji Yamaki in the 1989 Dolph Lundgren film The Punisher, in which he portrayed a Yakuza member. You may have seen him on the cover of the May 2011 issue of Black Belt. You may have seen him teaching students at his Yamaki Karate dojo in Torrance, California. Or maybe you haven't seen this 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pound, eighth-dan powerhouse ever before in your life. But that's about to change, as Black Belt wraps production on the new two-disc karate DVD set Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning. And we've got an exclusive sneak peek of these action-packed instructional DVDs!

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