Kicking Skills (Keri Waza)

Within Tensoku Ryu we practice a large number and variety of different kicks. Students are introduced to these kicks early (and often). Even a White Belt student will be taught kicks that some systems might teach much later. This is because we have a very systematic way of approaching kicking skills. It doesn’t mean our approach is better than those used by other systems. But it does explain why we teach kicks in a specific order.

Within our system (and many others) we use the Japanese term Keri to refer to kicks. You will also see the term Geri used when referring to an individual kick. So Keri refers to kicks in general, and Geri usually refers to an individual type of kick.

We are, as a system, quite picky about kicking. We think this is a truly essential skill at which students should excel. We pay quite focused attention to delivery efficiency, maintaining good balance, impact effectiveness, avoiding opponent guards, self preservation, kick return methods, foot placement and movement after kicking, the physics of kicking, effective guard positions while kicking, and maintaining excellent vision. And these are only the fundamentals. We are quite focused on improving the kicking abilities of our students.

Below is some discussion of the many kicks in our system and the belt level at which the kick is first introduced. Once a student has learned a kick they must be ready and able to demonstrate the kick as part of any future ranking examination.

White Belt Kicks

Students who are training to earn their Yellow Belt ranking learn every single-kick option in our system. We do not hold back. If a kick involves a single leg or a single kick then students at this level will learn and practice the kick. Some of these kicks may be thought to be quite advanced, but from experience we find that nearly everyone can do them without much difficulty.

We start with the easier and more fundamental kicks at first so that students develop the appropriate sense of balance, rotation, retraction, foot placement and related skills. It is critical that students develop these essential skills early. They are necessary to enable students to perform more advanced kicking procedures.

As students advance through the material in the first belt they are introduced to increasingly difficult and complex kicks. Again, these are kicks every student learns to master fairly quickly, due in large part to our insistence on proper form and methodologies when students learned previous kicks.

Here is the list of kicks students learn and practice while studying for their first ranking examination.

Front Kicks

  • Mae Geri
  • Mae Ashi Geri
  • Kin Geri
  • Mae Kekomi Geri
  • Mae Fumikomi Geri
  • Kakato Geri
  • Shovel Kick
  • Hiza Geri

Side Kicks

  • Yoko Geri
  • Yoko Kekomi Geri
  • Power Thrust Kick
  • Knife Edge Kick
  • Yoko Fumikomi Geri

Rear Kicks

  • Ushiro Geri
  • Ushiro Kekomi Geri

Rotating Kicks

  • Mawashi Geri
  • Wheel Kick
  • Mae Ashi Mawashi Geri
  • Slicing Kick
  • Yoko Hiza Geri

Crescent Kicks

  • Mikazuki Geri
  • Ura Mikazuki Geri

Hooking Kicks

  • Ura Mawashi Geri
  • Mae Ura Mawashi Geri

Where a kick name appears in English it suggests the kick is either not commonly practiced in Japanese systems or that we have a slightly modified version of a more common Japanese kicking method that we think provides an important distinction. So in some cases a kick with an English name may be a slight but important variant of other more common kicks.

Yellow Belt Kicks

For the most part the kicks that students perform while working toward their Orange Belt ranking involve dual kicks. These are kicking combinations involving two usually sequential kicks delivered in rapid succession. Some of these kicks involve using a single leg to do both kicks, while other combinations involve using alternate legs. In many ways these combinations involve kicking skills and strategic development rather than learning a host of new kicks. Usually these combination kicks involve utilizing two kicks that students have previously learned. While this sounds simple it can be challenging to work on the balancing, timing, necessary structural transitions, and increased efforts required to do these combinations well.

Here is list, in no particular order, of kicks practiced at this level.

  • Nido Mae Geri
  • Nido Yoko Geri
  • Mae Geri – Ushiro Geri
  • Mae Geri – Yoko Geri
  • Yoko Geri – Ushiro Geri
  • Ushiro Geri – Mae Geri
  • Mawashi Geri – Yoko Geri
  • Mae Geri – Mawashi Geri
  • Mawashi Geri – Mawashi Geri (also known as Nido Mawashi Geri)
  • Mae Ura Mawashi Geri – Mawashi Geri
  • Mikazuki Geri – Yoko Kekomi Geri
  • Yoko Geri – Ura Mawashi Geri
  • Yoko Geri – Yoko Kekomi Geri
  • Ushiro Geri – Ushiro Kekomi Geri
  • Mae Geri – Mae Ashi Geri
  • Nido Mikazuki Geri

Orange Belt Kicks

Once students achieve their Orange Belt the kicks become much more invigorating. In some cases triple kick combinations are employed while in other cases kicks are employed during movement. These movements may involve stepping (walking), shuffling, or falling. These kicks all have one primary thing in common – they can be very tiring at first until you build up sufficient endurance.

Here are lists of the kicks practiced at this ranking level.

Aruki Keri (Walking Kicks)

  • Aruki Ushiro Geri
  • Aruki Juji Yoko Kekomi Geri
  • Aruki Mawashi Geri
  • Aruki Juji Mawashi Geri
  • Aruki Hiza Geri
  • Nihon Mae Ashi Geri

Tsugi Ashi Keri (Shuffling Kicks)

  • Tsugi Ashi Mae Geri
  • Tsugi Ashi Yoko Geri
  • Tsugi Ashi Mae Mawashi Geri
  • Tsugi Ashi Mae Ashi Geri
  • Tsugi Ashi Tettai Mae Ashi Geri
  • Tsugi Ashi Mae Ura Mawashi Geri
  • Tsugi Ashi Hiza Geri

Kakou Keri (Falling Kicks)

  • Kakou Yoko Kekomi Geri
  • Kakou Ushiro Kekomi Geri
  • Kakou Mae Geri
  • Kakou Mae Ura Mawashi Geri
  • Kakou Doujime Geri

Sanbon Keri (Triple Kicks)

  • Sanbou Geri
  • Mikazuki Geri, Yoko Geri, Ushiro Geri
  • Mae Geri, Mae Ura Mawashi Geri, Mawashi Geri
  • Mae Mawashi Geri, Mae Geri, Kakato Geri

Purple Belt Kicks

Kicking while engaged in more complex movements is the focus of the kicks for those who have attained the Purple Belt ranking. This involves kicks associated with spinning, jumping, and tumbling activities. This add an another level of required endurance development which progresses naturally as students learn and then practice these kicks.

Spinning Kicks

  • Ushiro Mawashi Geri
  • Mikazuki Geri – Ushiro Geri
  • Mikazuki Geri – Ura Ushiro Geri
  • Mawashi Geri – Ushiro Geri
  • Mawashi Geri – Ura Ushiro Geri
  • Kaiten Ura Mawashi Geri
  • Kaiten Ura Mikazuki Geri
  • Mae Geri – Ura Ushiro Geri
  • Mae Geri – Kaiten Ushiro Geri
  • Kaiten Yoko Geri
  • Kaiten Mikazuki Geri
  • Reverse Iron Broom
  • Forward Iron Broom
  • Spinning Ax Kick

Tobi Ashi (Jumping Kicks)

  • Tobi Mae Geri
  • Flying Snap
  • Tobi Mae Ashi Geri
  • Tobi Ushiro Geri
  • Tobi Yoko Geri
  • Flying Side
  • Tobi Mawashi Geri
  • Tobi Ura Mawashi Geri
  • 540 Kick
  • Tobi Keara Ushiro Geri
  • Tobi Mae Ura Mawashi Geri
  • Jump Fading Side Kick
  • Tobi Mae Geri – Ushiro Geri
  • Tobi Nido Mae Geri
  • Tobi Mae Geri – Yoko Geri

Kaiten Keri (Tumbling Kicks)

  • Tate Do Mawashi Kaiten Geri
  • Yoko Do Mawashi Kaiten Geri
  • Ura Do Mawashi Kaiten Geri

For those of you who are counting that is some seventy kicks. The good news is that many of these kicks are more extensive variations of the kicks learned in the first belt. So in reality students are primarily learning out to employ kicks effectively in a variety of differing situations. We think this is important because you simply never know how or when you may need to deliver an effective kick. If you are practiced at delivering a kick of nearly any variety from any likely position or posture then you will be able to readily address most common kicking eventualities.

The kicks also have an added benefit of continually working to improve the practitioner’s endurance levels. This improved endurance will be an added benefit as students progress through more advanced rankings.

You may also notice that there are no new kicks introduced at or above the Blue Belt level. By the time students reach this intermediate level in our system they will be very accomplished kickers. While students may occasionally explore a new kicking concept or a new kick the student or instructor uncovered somewhere, there is no formal introduction of new kicks above the Purple Belt level. By the time students reach this level there is realistically very little more to explore with regard to kicking skills.

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