Back on the farm, plow hitches were always getting stuck because they’d fill up with dirt. If you didn’t have a sledgehammer handy, the only way to knock them loose was with a good, swift kick. But not just any kick would do. It had to be what we called the “Georgia stomp.”
Turns out, it was one of the best tools on the farm because it could be used in so many situations — everything from busting up big dirt clods to straightening out your hoe. It’s one of your best tools in self-defense and the martial arts for the same reasons — namely, it packs power and versatility.
BASIC STOMP: As the assailant (left) approaches, the martial artist assumes a defensive stance. He raises his knee as high as possible and thrusts his foot out and down, striking the man in the groin.
Once I began studying the martial arts, I recognized that the stomping kick — also called the push kick, the piston kick or just the front kick — was nothing more than a Georgia stomp applied to self-defense. At first, I preferred the stomp to other types of kicks, probably because of its familiarity. After many years of practice, I realized I preferred it not just for its ease of use but because experience had proved it superior to other leg techniques.
Based on that experience, I’ve placed the stomp at the top of my hierarchy of striking techniques. What were my criteria?
First, it had to be powerful because without power, it won’t be effective. Second, it had to be accurate. Third, it had to incur minimal risk — including risk of self-injury and risk of counterattack. To fully appreciate these points, you must understand how to do the stomp kick correctly.
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The basic movement entails raising your foot as high as possible, then dropping the bottom of your boot as hard as possible while simultaneously dropping your body weight onto the target. It’s that simple.
Almost everybody knows how to do this, which means you already have a good idea of how to do the stomp. You probably use the basic motion all the time — for example, to break up stuff that won’t fit in the garbage can. Because you’ve got the basics down, you need only a little practice to perfect the technique.
One reason the stomp is so powerful is it’s a natural movement. You don’t need to learn new skills involving foot position, balance and hip rotation. You don’t even need to be flexible. The power of the stomp comes from the fact that it utilizes your strongest muscles — thigh and buttocks — in conjunction with your bodyweight. When you stomp, they merge to become an unstoppable force.
Right now, you’re probably wondering what’s so useful about stomping the ground. Well, it has nothing to do with knocking your opponent down and stomping him in the head — although that’s a possibility. You see, most people forget how important it is to target the feet and ankles of an assailant. It should be one of your top priorities in self-defense. By damaging his feet, you’ll hinder his stability and mobility, and he’ll no longer pose a threat.
Even though the foot and ankle are designed to withstand a lot of pressure from the bottom, they’re susceptible to even a light force from above. If you’ve ever dropped something on your foot, even something small, you know what I mean. Now imagine that the thing being dropped on your foot is a powerful stomp. With that much force and bodyweight behind it, there’s a good chance the small bones of the foot will fracture or be dislocated.
A stomp directed at the side of the ankle will force the foot to roll, tearing the ligaments and spraining the joint — which is why the technique is illegal in many competitions. Dirty little secret of the martial arts: Any technique that’s illegal in competition should be the first thing you do in self-defense.
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