Use of legs in a street fight

Should we use legs in a street fight?

Let’s forget for a moment our legs and let’s imagine talking about a bazooka.

Does it make sense to use a bazooka in a battle field (against similar war machines)? Of course yes, but only if:

  • We are able to use it in the right way
  • It is in good conditions
  • It has munitions

In all the other cases the risks become greater than the advantages: perfect, for the kicks is the same.

Why is dangerous to abuse of legs in a street fight

Legs are very important, we need them to execute tasks that are absolutely vital in any self-defense context (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method), like:

Even (good) kicks could be very effective, it is totally wrong to employ legs without a more than adequate preparation (read How to prepare legs to kick effectively).

Are there no risky kicks?

No, but there are various levels of risk.

In a self-defense context we have fundamentally 2 options in terms of kicking:

  • Below the knee – If we possess a basic balance level, we can use kicks below the knee height “with a certain tranquility” (to stop, channel, hit, etc.); the important thing is to remain aligned with our gravity line (read How to improve balance: tricks and exercises)
  • Above the knee – To be able to use the legs above the knee height (kick to the ribs, head, etc.) we should be at medium-high martial level (read The use of legs in a real fight)

A note by Master Kongling – A similar reasoning can be done for the reach of our leg’s attacks: if we are not expert (so we know what we are doing), we should not unbalance to try to hit a target which is at a distance greater than the length of our arm (parallel to the ground and extended towards our opponent).

Why high kicks are for experts only?

These are the reasons why to kick above the knee (outside a safe context, in the street, etc.) is only for advanced practitioners:

  • The absence of stretching – To use medium / high kicks without stretching we must follow a daily training routine (read Practical examples of daily training time subdivision); in particular, if we are not very flexible and / or we are no longer young, the occurrence even only of a disabling muscle tear is very easy (if this happen, our possibilities to prevail decrease inevitably and drastically, read Always be ready to fight: extreme conditions)
  • Waste of energy – Our legs consume a lot of energy (they are more powerful but heavier to use dynamically, especially if we do not know how to manage their inertia); we need a lot of stamina to do not end with heavy breathing in a few instants (and this means hours of training each day, read Tips on how to stretch our training times)
  • Predictability – Legs (without adequate preparation and tactical knowledge) are generally slow and much more predictable than arms; if an opponent grabs our leg may be the beginning of the end (ground fighting, bad fallings, etc. read The fundamental concepts of the fallings)
  • Balance risks – Even if lower limbs can deliver devastating blows, it is very easy to lose balance if we have never developed dynamic balance (read The concept of Dynamic Equilibrium); in personal defense, in 90% of the cases, we do not choose the type of terrain nor the weather conditions with which to fight, the truth is that there are certain conditions that are a challenge even for the more trained practitioners

How to truly improve our ability to kick

To improve your kicking level (in addition to the articles already mentioned) you can read:

About the effectiveness of martial arts in self-defense you can read instead:

In-depth video courses

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Do you feel able to use your legs to kick over your knees (in a self-defense context)? Why?

Author: Master Kongling

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