Most Important Kick in Martial
Arts; The Front Kick
By Raymond C. Nelson, P.E.
Sam Bo Nim, Downtown Dojang & Rice Karate
Any human being with knowledge of how to
use their legs knows how to do a front kick.
It is instinctive, a natural part of the
human condition. The first time a baby, when
walking, accidentally hits something with
it's foot and doesn't hurt itself, it has
learned how to kick. Kicking is not always
a violent act. There are many instances,
a farmer clearing soil, a careful driver
checking her tires for proper inflation,
a person with their hands full opening a
door, where kicking is used for other, non-confrontational
However, whether done for self-defense or
for other more esoteric reasons, it is important
to be helped to understand correct kicking
technique in order to avoid injury to oneself
as well as improve effectiveness and efficiency.
Correct technique is important for any martial
arts technique, but it is especially so for
kicking because injuries resulting from kicking
can be insiduous. There are many people who
have quit or do not train on a regular basis
due to sore knees, bad ankles, and/ or sprained
Grandmaster Kim Soo has mentioned many times
an experience when he first visited the United
States in the early 1960's. During this time
when he served as the Korean correspondent
to 'Black Belt Magazine,' he was invited
several times to the United States to conduct
seminars on martial arts. Often-times he
noticed that some students would be watching
and not participating. Surprisingly, in most
cases these were the most senior students.
Naturally enough, Grandmaster Kim Soo, pondered
on the reason, and had to consider unawareness
and arrogance. Fortunately, at one school,
a student who was not participating, approached
Grandmaster Kim Soo, bowing very respectfully.
He apologized for not being able to participate
due to a chronic knee injury. Grandmaster
Kim Soo thanked him and then later reflected
that the schools that had senior students
not participating all tended to execute front
kicks the same way.
At the next shcool he visited Grandmaster
Kim Soo noticed the same phenomenon. He also
observed that students at this school all
performed the front kick without pivoting
their supporting foot and even occasionally
lifted their heels (especially when kicking
high!). This confirmed for him the importance
of the correct kicking method. What became
apparent was that kicking without pivoting,
when done repeatedly (in some cases for years),
puts stress on the inside of the knee joint
and leads to sore knees and even ligament
or cartiladge damage if continued.
Pivoting not only prevents injury but increases
the effective range of the technique. Try
1. Lift one foot off of the ground and put
it comfortably down in front of you.
2. Next, pick a spot about 12 inches in front
of that spot and put the same foot there.
Notice how your supporting foot naturally
pivots when you put the other foot on the
Kicking and punching, if done correctly,
are as natural as walking and running. In
fact, the back and forth swinging movement
of the arms is identical for walking, running,
and punching. Imagine the drum major of a
marching band, notice how they raise their
knees high while simultaneously swinging
the arms, with the opposite side arm coming
forward. This is exactly how the front and
knee kicks are performed. Including the arm
motion with the foot movement is important
for balance. Balanced movement, a basic principle,
is essential for speed, power, and control
- essential elements of an effective technique.
In summary, techniques performed in harmony
with how the human body is designed to move
are not only more efficient, they are easier
to teach and more importantly are healthier
not only from an injury perspective but also
from a health improvement one.