Kicks

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

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.

Silat for the Street is an online course from Black Belt Hall of Famer Burton Richardson and Black Belt mag. Learn the most functional silat techniques whenever and wherever you want on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Get more info here!

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.

FROM A HEAD LOCK: Mark A. Jordan is caught in a bad position. He raises his foot before driving it down onto the aggressor’s instep.

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.

The newest release from combatives authority Kelly McCann (standing) and Black Belt magazine is called Kelly McCann Combatives 2: Stick & Ground Combat. It’s a video course you can play anytime, anywhere on your digital device. Click here to watch the trailer and then sign up.

Truth is, a broken foot will drop a guy more quickly than your best …

Ultimate Kicking: The Push Kick Can Add Speed and Power to Your Taekwondo Tool Box

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.

The modern classic “Taekwondo: Advanced Sparring Techniques, Volume 1” by Herb Perez is still available as a DVD. Get it here from Amazon.

Park suggests several drills to develop your technique and timing. One involves squaring off with an opponent in closed cover (chests facing opposite directions). As he attempts an ax kick, you aim for his solar plexus with your push kick. If timed right, your kick will land him on his back.

“If you wait until his ax kick is at its highest point, it’s too late to start a counterstrike,” Yeon Hwan Park says. “As he begins his motion, you must begin yours. Don’t wait, especially in a situation like this when your face is exposed.”

A well-known martial arts researcher wrote an article titled “Taekwondo Forms: Uncovering the Self-Defense Moves Within Traditional Taekwondo Patterns.” Get it here — it’s free.

He recommends another drill to illustrate how a push kick can repel an attempted back kick. “Once your opponent turns his back, thrust a push kick into the area just above his waist,” he says. If done properly, the push kick will stop the back kick before he can complete the required turning motion. Park advises students to follow up with a roundhouse kick.

In repelling a back kick, a push kick works especially well when done off the front leg, Yeon Hwan Park says. “You don’t need to thrust it in with any great amount of power. If you keep your leg and foot straight, you can practically lift your foot up and just place it on his waist as he turns into the kick. Since he’s moving into your leg, there will be sufficient force without your having to do much except stay ready to follow up.”

Again, Park emphasizes that you must time the kick so it’s unleashed concurrently with the attacker’s kick. “If you start your kick when he starts his, your foot should be in position to cut off the back kick, then follow up,” he says. “If you’re late with the push kick, you’re going to run into a back kick, which is probably the most powerful technique in taekwondo. Your kick should land at or just above his hip. Once you’ve stopped his momentum, he’s a sitting duck.”

Like the Korean martial arts? You should own a copy of “Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit” by Taejoon Lee and Mark Cheng. Click here to order.

For the next drill, square off with your partner in open cover (chests facing the same direction). As he unleashes a rear-leg roundhouse, skip in with a forward-leg cut kick, a variation of the push kick that applies basically the same principles but in a sideways motion. Make sure your kicking leg moves first and your supporting leg slides forward immediately afterward.

When he throws the roundhouse, there comes a point when he’s full-bodied. It lasts only a moment — until he turns his back into the kick more fully and incorporates his upper-body power. That, Park says, is precisely what the push kick or cut kick can help you exploit.

“If you cut off his roundhouse with a kick as powerful as a push kick, your opponent is likely to be off-balance,” he says. “As he moves backward [from] the impact, …

Israeli Martial Arts: Krav Maga Expert Eyal Yanilov Shows You How to Disable an Opponent and Defend Yourself From the Ground

Krav maga expert Eyal Yanilov in action.Eyal Yanilov is, by far, one of the most respected krav maga practitioners in the world today. He is currently listed as “master level 3/expert level 8” in krav maga — the highest rank krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld ever awarded to any student. Eyal Yanilov’s official title today is chief instructor of Krav Maga Global, the organization he founded in 2010 to spread real krav maga to the world.

In the cover story for the March 2011 issue of Black Belt, Eyal Yanilov demonstrated a series of krav maga defenses against variations of the front kick. In this exclusive video, Eyal Yanilov demonstrates his “disable and defend” moves.

KRAV MAGA TECHNIQUE VIDEO
Eyal Yanilov Shows You How to Disable an Opponent and Defend Yourself From the Ground Using Krav Maga



MORE KRAV MAGA VIDEOS!
Watch Alain Cohen, Moni Aizik, Darren Levine and others demonstrate their
krav maga techniques in exclusive videos and DVD excerpts!


In the above video’s technique sequence, Eyal Yanilov is sitting on the ground when the aggressor approaches and begins his kick. “In the sitting position,” Eyal Yanilov explains, “[I will deflect] the kick when moving the body out from the area of the attack.”

The krav maga expert shifts to his left to evade the foot and simultaneously deflects the leg with his left arm. “We call it 200-percent defense,” Eyal Yanilov says. “One-hundred-percent efficiency with the hand, 100-percent efficiency with the body.”

Eyal Yanilov explains the final section of the krav maga technique: “As soon as I [can], I counterattack. The moment I [shift] my weight and there’s no weight on the legs, I [can] already function to kick with them.” Eyal Yanilov then falls onto his left side and unleashes side kicks to the man’s leg and body, which prompts him to explain, “From this position, I attack … and from this position, either I continue to attack or move away from the danger zone,” as he finishes his opponent and escapes.

Eyal Yanilov began his training in the Israeli art at age 14 under Eli Avikzar but then shifted to the legendary Imi Lichtenfeld, founder of the system. Eyal Yanilov so impressed the krav maga master that he became Imi Lichtenfeld’s assistant. His primary assignment was to commit the art’s principles and techniques to paper. The result was Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault, co-written by Imi Lichtenfeld (as Imi Sde-Or) and Eyal Yanilov, which was published in 2001 — three years after the founder passed away.

Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

Krav Maga Personal Protection: The Israeli Method of Close-Quarters Combat

The Ultimate Guide to Reality-Based Self-Defense

Kapap Combat Concepts: Martial Arts of the Israeli Special Forces

The Front Kick: How to Do It, When to Use It, What to Destroy With It (Part 2)

There’s no disputing the self-defense potential of the front kick. Used as an explosive, committed attack or counterattack, a deep front kick into an assailant’s stomach may end a conflict outright.

Unlike many kicks, the front kick doesn’t lose potency at close range. Even if an attacker lunges in and the kick catches him when only half extended, he still receives a jarring impact, and the follow-through still drives him backward.

From a defensive standpoint, the front kick is safe, for a practitioner is not likely to get into trouble while using it. Yes, the leg can still be grabbed. But if it is, the kicker is not as easily upended as with a more complicated kick. And because the upper body doesn’t lean backward or tilt to the side, the front kick can be retracted more naturally and quickly.

Sparring

In sparring, the front kick proves its value. Because it requires minimal pivoting, it lends itself to combinations. A confident fighter can lead with it, then follow with a strong lunge or reverse punch. The front kick also can be employed after a lead punch, with the punch’s momentum facilitating the delivery of the follow-up kick. Done quickly, this type of combination will nail a “runner” before he can retreat.

Against a “blocker,” the front kick can easily be transformed into a deceptive double kick. The initial chamber lowers the opponent’s guard as the kick becomes a high roundhouse or side kick. Of course, your foe is more likely to take the bait if the regular front kick has been used earlier in the match.

With all this potential, why isn’t the front kick used more frequently in sparring? It may be that its very simplicity allows some martial artists to be less than rigorous in perfecting it. It’s not uncommon for practitioners to suffer broken toes and bruised insteps when an opponent stops the kick with an elbow. Indeed, many practitioners eschew the front kick in dojo sparring — not because they believe it won’t work but because they fear the consequences.

One of the main reasons the front kick leads to minor injury during training is that its trajectory is upward rather than outward. This may be the result of misunderstanding the intent of the kick or from reinforcing bad habits through high kicking.

If the problem is the latter, it really doesn’t matter whether the toes are pulled back perfectly. If the foot isn’t flexed slightly downward and pointed toward the target, even a deep kick will harmlessly brush by the opponent. Positioning the foot correctly also aids in kicking straight into the target area — the middle of the body. A kick’s power dissipates when directed upward, and not only does kicking upward weaken the front kick’s impact, but it also bypasses the only realistic target area.

Another critical success factor involves getting the knee up as high as possible before the kick. A low, lazy chamber allows a foe to pick up on the motion earlier, thereby making it easier to block or jam with a stop-kick. Failing to crank the knee up also drastically reduces the kick’s power; the kick is shoveled up instead of exploded through its target.

Exercises

Many exercises help develop the front kick, but perhaps the most useful thing to improve confidence and performance is to actually hit something. A heavy bag, makiwara, air shield, old tire or any number of devices can serve as effective targets because they encourage the kicker to make contact.

If the target is positioned realistically — at midsection level — a rising kick will pass in front of it. As a result, a practitioner who strikes the heavy bag with consistency learns to front-kick correctly — or abandons the practice in frustration.

Changing Times

In modern tournaments, the front kick has fallen out of favor. Yet 50 years ago when American tournaments were in their infancy, points weren’t given for sloppy, flicking or questionable techniques. To be recognized as a valid point, a technique had to have good form, focus and stopping power. Not coincidentally, the front kick was one of the most often used techniques — because it delivered on all these prerequisites.

True, times have changed and competition has evolved. Today’s fighters are better conditioned and more mobile, and they possess a more extensive repertoire of techniques than their first-generation counterparts. Despite this seeming sophistication, however, something seems to be missing. Too often, what grabs judges’ attention is more flash than substance. This is not, nor has it ever been, the case with the front kick. Whether the circumstance is self-defense or sparring, the basic front kick remains a reliable choice.

(Read Part 1 of this article here.)

The Front Kick: How to Do It, When to Use It, What to Destroy With It (Part 1)

For taekwondo fighters, it’s a scoring technique used to impart “trembling shock” against an opponent’s chest protector. For muay Thai stylists, it’s a defensive technique effected by shoving against an opponent’s abdomen. For karate stylists, it’s a stunning technique aimed at an opponent’s solar plexus.

It is perhaps the most basic martial arts technique of all, the front kick. In one form or another, it’s a component of almost every system. Often the first kick introduced to novice students, it doesn’t require exceptional balance or flexibility. Yet when executed with sharp, focused power, it quickly realizes its full potential.

Snap Kick

Front kicks can be divided into two main types: the front snap kick and the front thrust kick. The snap kick is faster. It’s performed by lifting the knee and snapping the lower leg into the target. Power is generated primarily from the sharp extension of the leg and the speed with which the lower leg shoots into the target.

The front snap kick doesn’t involve the hips as much as the front thrust kick does. As a result, kickers don’t have to compromise their balance by shifting their center of gravity. This means they can quickly step in with a follow-up technique or retract the leg to its original position.

Thrust Kick

The front thrust kick is the more powerful of the two variations. It uses not only the snap of the lower leg but also the drive and follow-through of the hips. As with the front snap kick, the knee is brought up quickly. But to recruit more power, the knee lift is preceded by a thrust of the hips. This motion brings the largest muscles of the body into play, and instead of producing a snapping impact, it generates penetrating, disabling force.

With either version, the point of contact is usually the ball of the foot, although there are exceptions. Some systems such as uechi-ryu use the toes instead of the ball. Naturally, this demands an extraordinary level of conditioning, but because the contact point is smaller, the kick imparts a sharper, stabbing pain. The heel and instep also can be employed, with the heel most often used for thrusting kicks and the instep for groin kicks wherein the foot travels upward to strike the genitals. For the most part, however, the ball of the foot is preferred, particularly when bare feet are involved.

Rear Leg

The front kick can be delivered from the front or rear leg. Kicking with the rear leg is more common and more comfortable for most practitioners. The rear-leg front kick is a natural motion; it’s easier for kickers to shift their balance and put their weight behind the kick. The rear-leg kick, especially from a relatively deep stance, often enables kickers to crash right through an opponent’s block.

Some people produce even more power by altering the kick’s angle. Rather than chambering the knee directly to the front, they cock it slightly to the side. As the knee is lifted, the supporting foot pivots and the lower leg shoots into the target at a 20-degree angle. This variation should not be confused with the 45-degree roundhouse kick that many taekwondo competitors use. Although the angle appears similar, the contact area for the angled front kick remains the ball of the foot and not the instep.

Lead Leg

The lead-leg front kick is quicker but considerably less powerful than its rear-leg counterpart. Its main use in self-defense is as a stunning setup technique that off-balances an adversary and paves the way for heavier blows. It’s also used in free sparring primarily as a range-finder and setup technique.

Competitive taekwondo fighters use a variation of the lead-leg kick as a stop-kick to keep an opponent from advancing. Because the opponent is wearing a body protector, penetration is not the objective; freezing a foe in his tracks is the main concern. Thai stylists also use a similar front-leg kick to probe an opponent’s defenses or push him away.

An apt analogy for the lead- and rear-leg front kicks likens their form and function to the jab and rear cross of boxing, with one setting up an opponent and the other finishing him off.

Target Height

Despite the prevalence of high front kicks in forms competition, the best targets are the solar plexus and ribs. The head isn’t a feasible target for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the trajectory of the kick itself. The path for a well-executed kick goes straight ahead, not upward. And an opponent’s body is in front of the kicker — not suspended above him.

Therefore, it’s incumbent on kickers to kick into their target. This is perhaps the most common mistake practitioners make. Instead of trying to nail a small, mobile and well-guarded …

Next