Monday, 30 March 2009

The Side Kick in Martial Arts, Is it Effective?

The side kick is probably the most used kick when it comes to martial artists posing. Fighters who have good leg techniques love throwing a high side kick for cameras to take pictures of. It was one of the most used kicks by the late great Bruce Lee and if thrown correctly the power it can deliver is staggering. So why is it used so seldom by many of today’s martial artists?

Well, first of all, it is slightly slower than other more used kicks such as the roundhouse or front kick. When performed in a thrusting manner the whole leg is used to thrust the foot towards the target rather than swinging or snapping the leg like the other kicks. This makes it slightly slower and because of this, people tend to not use it as they can be easily countered.

Also, the side kick takes a large amount of training to become effective. Many months if not years is needed for one to obtain the correct technique for performing the kick and martial artists today are sometimes lazy to put in the time needed, wanting to become experts as quick as possible and choose to perfect other easier kicks instead.

The side kick is not an ineffective technique however. It is very useful and very powerful, but only if it is performed under the right circumstances. Below are a few suggestions on how it can be of value,

Use it sparingly – One of the few techniques where it is possible to use it again and again, constantly, is the jab. Every other technique must be used at the correct time. The side kick is no different. When the right time comes, use it. Many people use it way to often and when another technique is probably more acceptable.

Don’t use it to attack the opponent, rather as a counter or during a combination – As mentioned above, use the side kick sparingly. Some of the best times to use it are either as a stop hit counter strike or during a combination, attacking the head area with punches then thrusting a side kick low to your opponent’s legs or just above the hip.

Its best used as a thrust rather than a snap – A lot of people snap the side kick as opposed to thrusting it. By snapping, although it may be the quickest way to perform the kick, you lose a lot of power as the striking area, which is the foot travels in an arc fashion towards the target rather than in a straight line as with the thrust variation.

Strike with the heel rather than the blade or sole of the foot – The heel is one of the hardest striking weapons on the human body. Striking the heel is much more devastating than using the blade or sole of the foot and is safer. It is very easy to twist the ankle when striking with the blade. Also striking hard surfaces like the shin with the sole can be very painful.

Use the front leg – In order to perform a side kick with the back leg, one has to bring the kicking foot off the floor, bring the kicking leg in front of the body, pull the leg back then thrust the foot towards the target. This not only takes far too long but also exposes too many targets to the opponent allowing for easy counter attacks. By kicking with the front leg, these targets are not exposed and it is far quicker.

Strike low – To strike high, aiming towards the face may look impressive but is very unnecessary and by the time your foot reaches the target, your opponent will have easily moved out of the way as it is slow to perform compared to other kicks. For self defence purposes, kicking low is more advisable and effective as there are more easier targets to strike than high. In sport, a side kick to the torso, just above the hip can be very painful when using the methods outlined above.

The side kick requires the same amount of attention and patience as with any other technique. Be it a submission hold, a combination or a spinning roundhouse kick, they all require practise and experience through sparring. If one puts in the endless hours of practise with this technique, it can become useful for them and could be seen as one of the most effective techniques.


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Anonymous said...

Bruce Lee made it one of his primary weapons (especially in the form of a stop-kick to the opponent's knee), that says enough as far as I'm concerned. It's also great in the attack: if you start of with punches he'll most likely back away, this is the perfect time for a long-range, deeply penetrating weapon like the side-kick.

As with all kicks there's a simple rule: the higher the more difficult to execute and the more dangerous, the lower the safer and the more efficient.


Anonymous said...

My brother and me always use a punch or diversion to the face then hit with the side kick or reverse side kick to the mid-section or lower. It works well.

TaekwonPro said...

The sidekick being a slow kick is a common misconception. The sidekick can be a very fast kick, especially when executed with the lead leg

It is only slow if you train using the kick in a slow fashion or if it is not trained enough at all.

I enjoyed the part about NOT striking with the sole of the foot. It is mind boggling how many people were taught to strike the the sole of the foot rather than the feel.

Thank you for this informative post.

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