The characteristics of a good kick

Why is kicking more dangerous than punching?

During combat:

  • Using the upper limbs – Envolves the classical trapping-related risks (open our guard, get intercepted, give the chance to our opponent to hit our vulnerable parts, etc. read Trapping)
  • Using the lower limbs – Could be even more dangerous, because, in addition to the trapping’s dangers, even our mobility and our stability depend on them

Let’s see a few examples of the problems related to the kicks (read How to kick (simple explanation)):

  • They limit our counterbalance capability (even if we are experts, our stability remains 90% of the times on one leg only)
  • We are easier to capture (when we are on one leg, our mobility is drastically decreased)
  • We risk exposing our genitals (an easy to reach and well-known target)
  • We could be thrown, suffer a Chi Na technique (etc.)

What are the details to take care of while kicking?

A good kick should be used in presence of:

  • Cognition of cause – We have to instantaneously choose / adapt the right kick for the current situation (in terms of time and space); our spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat) must also guarantee us that the distance is correct (the kick should get to hit with the part we want and in the nearest moment / area of maximum possible damage)
  • Instinctive accuracy – Especially if we are not conditioned, we must be able to instinctively choose what to hit (vital points, pain points, weak areas, etc.) and with which part to hit (heel, dorsum of the foot, etc.); for example, an accidental impact between our toes and a hard opponent’s bone could cause a fracture that would annihilate (at least) 70% of our fighting capability (read Fortify toes: the first exercise)
  • Balance – While attacking (for example) the head, even reaching the target, if we slip backward, we lose a lot of power, we risk to fall and especially we lose the space / time advantage earned; to have a bad dynamic equilibrium always means giving the opponent a huge advantage (read The concept of Dynamic Equilibrium)
  • Timing – For each situation / scenario, there is a narrow range of time where the conditions are favorable for throwing our kick (and achieve the goal we have chosen); all the other moments are deeply unsuited (eg. a stroke that is given against nothing, leads us to occupy unexpected positions that are difficult to defend and / or leave)
  • Speed – Without precision, timing and cognition of cause, speed is completely useless (read Speed and quickness) but the more we are rapid (going and especially returning) the more we increase the possibility of not being intercepted (dodged, etc.); to kick fast requires a lot of specific training, it is not a beginner level skill
  • Power – Legs are naturally stronger than the arms but against a conditioned fighter they can be useless; a kick that does not release the correct amount of energy on the opponent is totally useless; if we understand that we cannot express a strength sufficient to hurt our opponent, it is better to avoid altogether to kick (until we reach an extremely favorable situation, read Use of legs in a street fight)
  • Unpredictability – A good  fighter can read the movement we do to use them against us or, at least, to easily avoid their action; our intention to kick should never be caught (especially, if we are not able to avoid the loading phase); again, if we are not good at kicking, it would be a good idea to adopt these techniques only in case of clear advantage, short distance or as a block (as it happens in Wing Chun)
  • Implementation of the muscle chain – On all occasions that the context allows us, we have to include in our combat motions the largest possible number of body elements (read Use the body power: the muscle chain); if we do not interrupt the flow of the energy (with stiffening, broken movements, deviations of trajectory, etc.), the impressed force will be incredibly greater and we will use considerably less effort / stress (because divided on more muscle, tendons, bones, etc.)
  • Softness (until the final moment of impact) – As we have already mentioned the only possible way to release the full body power (and to do things like rapidly changing the direction of a blow) is to use movements that do not create friction; let’s be clear, softness does not mean delicacy, hesitation or slowness, it refers to a force that is unstoppable because adaptable to the obstacles (read Advanced concepts: the Persistent Movements)

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts and considerations:

  • Kicking well is difficult (especially for the novices); legs are longer, heavier and we have less control over them
  • To truly use the lower limbs in combat we should dedicate a significant daily training (the minimum of the minimum is 100 kicks per day)
  • Especially if we are young, it is worth to hardly train this part of our body
  • Once learned to manage our legs in the right way, we will have at our disposal a weapon that (without excessive fatigue) can overcome the power and the efficacy of 90% of the blows that we can deliver with the arms

A note by Master Kongling – In Shaolin temple there were monks that used to train the same kick 10.000 times per day.

In the next article of this series, we will see the steps to prepare our legs to kick effectively (read How to prepare legs to kick effectively).

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Do you prefer to use kicks or punches?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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