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.
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.” 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.”
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