roundhouse kick

Learn the mechanics and do the drills, then unleash the beast that is your round kick!

Because of its versatility and power, the round kick — known to some martial artists as the turning kick, the saber kick or the roundhouse kick — is one of the most common leg techniques in our world. No matter your particular interpretation, the basics are the same: You swing your leg along an arc until your foot or shin strikes the target.

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One very effective tool in a martial artist's toolbox is the roundhouse kick. This kick is seen in a variety of styles, from taekwondo to mixed martial arts. Depending on which art the kick is used in, the kick will be executed differently.

In taekwondo, the roundhouse is usually aimed at the head. By lifting the knee straight up, the kick can be launched above the opponent's block. If the knee is not lifted, the kick can be easily deflected and a counter blow delivered.

The kick for taekwondo can be easily practiced by using a chair positioned almost against the knee. The practice involves picking the knee straight up and kicking over the chair without knocking it down. The kick should be done until it can be accomplished in one fluid motion. If you have a partner, practice using a kicking pad held head high.

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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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Muay Thai champ Alex Gong helps you fine-tune two essential techniques that work as well for self-defense as they do in the kickboxing ring.

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