In this article, we will discuss kicks delivered by using body rotation as a method of generating power or confusing an opponent. Kicks that employ rotational delivery are often quite powerful but are also often easily detected during the earliest stages of delivery.
There are several delivery methods and processes these kicks have in common. Like most other kicks in Tensoku Ryu, these kicks rely on proper body positioning and maintenance of sound structural integrity.
In most of these kicks, it is important to note the position of the foot on the pedestal leg as the kick is delivered. The toes of this foot should point back toward the local octagon angle two. This has two benefits. It makes it easier to resist front-to-back movement pressures and helps ensure the hips are rotated fully along the octagon angles one-two axis.
Achieving this foot rotation can be difficult for those first learning these kicks. There are several ways this rotation can be accomplished. One method is to spin on the pedestal leg throughout kick delivery. The toes of the pedestal leg start out pointing toward angle one, the body then swings around as the pedestal leg is allowed to rotate until the toes point back to angle two.
This method of delivery is frequently used, but it has several problems. The first is that it requires a good deal of initial shoulder rotation which makes it easy to detect when the kicks are being thrown. This motion can be detected at the earliest stages of kick delivery. This allows an opponent to detect the kick almost immediately and employ any of the ETD methods to deal with it.
A second problem is that the kick develops relatively slowly. The problem is inertia. Your body is relatively stationary before the kick. You then attempt to rotate your entire body around very rapidly to deliver a kick. It takes time to accelerate your entire body when delivering a kick in this manner. This is fundamental physics. It takes time and energy to get your body rotating with sufficient speed to pull off an effective rotating kick.
Another method for performing the required rotation is a bit more controlled. It takes at least the same amount of time (it is hard to violate fundamental physics properties), but the time element is hidden or masked. We will divide our kick delivery into sections. Let’s explore this method a moment by assuming a kick using the right leg.
Begin by rotating what will become your pedestal leg. This is done by rotating on the heel of the left foot so that the toes point in the vicinity of octagon angles three or five. Notice that we have not yet moved our shoulders – one of the initial indicators that a kick is about to be delivered. Our foot is half of the way around, but we have not yet disclosed our intentions (at least very broadly).
Now, beginning with the head, rotate your body, but do not move your back foot. Rotate in order the head, shoulders, torso, and then begin to rotate the hips. This helps overcome inertia by rotating your body in a continual sequence rather than as a single mass.
Only when you feel that your right leg is being pulled into the rotation should you allow the right leg to move as well. At this moment shift your weight onto the ball of your front foot and allow your continuing rotation to cause you to rotate on the ball of the front foot. Stop rotating on the ball of the foot when it is pointed in the vicinity of angle two. If all goes well your hips and shoulders will be aligned along the one-two axis of the octagon and what had been your back leg will be positioned to deliver the kick.
While this delivery method seems complex and long, it, in reality, takes a mere moment to complete once you have become practiced at it. You should also notice that the initial phases of your kick are harder to detect and the opponent has less time to respond because the middle rotational aspects of the kick happen quite rapidly.
You may want to experiment with both methods of rotation to see which works best for you. You will find that a significant benefit of the second rotational method is that it puts less strain on the hip, knee, and ankle joints. This may help to reduce long-term repetitive stress injuries at these joints.
Naturally, you will want to ensure you keep your hands in an effective guard position throughout these kicks. It is quite common for practitioners to forget about hand positions while involved in rotational kick delivery. This would represent a tremendous risk in an actual conflict. You must continually monitor hand positions to ensure you can protect yourself from a strike that may occur during your kick. Always remember, in a conflict, two people are looking for striking opportunities. Lowering your guard for even a moment provides such an opportunity for your opponent.
In the kick descriptions below, we will assume the kick is being delivered with the right leg. Kicks with the left leg would naturally be the mirror of the descriptions below. Octagon angles and left/right sides would be reversed for kicks employing the left leg.
Many of these kicks can be used for striking to Gedan, Chudan, and Jodan levels. When kicking to higher levels you will want to minimize the amount of backward lean. It is generally better to kick lower than to have excessive backward lean. Your stretch will improve more quickly if you maintain a more erect posture and slowly work to kick higher from that posture.
Mawashi Geri swings the back leg around in a circular manner to strike your target. It is therefore frequently called a Round House Kick and sometimes referred to as a Spin Kick (though this term more accurately refers to other types of kicks).
Begin the kick from Sochin Dachi or Moto Dachi by rotating your front foot to face angle 5 and then rapidly rotate your center toward local angle 5. Immediately raise the right knee and point it in the direction of local angle 4 such that the right shin is parallel to the floor. Now shift your weight slightly onto your left toes and continue rotating the pedestal foot until the toes face local angle 2. As this rotation occurs, continue moving the knee forward until it is aligned with your target. Focus on using your knee joint to extend your leg in a snapping motion (much like a horizontal Mae Geri) and then immediately bend the knee again to retract the lower leg. Now return the leg along its original path until you can establish your next intended stance. The front foot moves back as the knee retraces its path.
Striking can be done with either the ball or top of the foot. The ball is used when you require more penetrative power and the top of the foot is used when you have a softer tissue area or a target that is likely to be moving. This kick takes a great deal of practice to ensure good speed, power, balance, and effectiveness.
One problem that frequently occurs with this kick is students find it difficult to retract the kicking leg in a controlled manner. It is hard to suddenly reverse the direction of movement and pull the leg back toward its point of origin. This is due in part to the way the hip joint works. It will limit or restrict movement back toward angle four if the hip is rotated forward even slightly. You can overcome this limitation by slightly raising the knee vertically just before you attempt to rotate the leg back. This will release the hip joint and facilitate better leg movement.
Another strategy is to not return the leg at all. This might be used if you intend to either kick a second time (since the leg is now cocked and ready to strike again) or when you intend to move in a different direction following the kick. If you intend to move forward then all you need do is lower the kicking let to the floor (perhaps toward angle seven) so that your center is pointed toward your opponent’s mother line.
The Wheel Kick is much like the Mawashi Geri except that the knee initially moves directly toward your opponent (local angle 1) rather than off to the side. It looks initially like a Mae Geri (and can be used to fool an opponent) but then the pedestal leg rotates as in Mawashi Geri and the knee swings over until the shin is parallel with the floor at which point the knee joint extends the lower leg toward the target.
There is a sense of whiplash that can be associated with the delivery of the kick. The abrupt rotation from forward-facing to rotational delivery is rapid and can, therefore, be quite powerful. You need to rely on good foot rotation methods to make this work well. This is a powerful kick that can be delivered quickly. It has the added benefit of masking your true intentions from an opponent.
Mae Ashi Mawashi Geri
Mae Ashi Mawashi Geri is the front leg version of the Mawashi Geri or Wheel Kick. The front knee is simply lifted so the shin becomes parallel to the floor, the pedestal leg rotates back toward local angle 2, and the foot is extended into the target. The knee immediately flexes to retract the lower leg and the front leg is then commonly lowered to the ground.
Of course, the leg could remain suspended in the air to deliver a second kick. Students practice such kicking sequences in subsequent belt rankings.
The Slicing Kick might best be described as a cross between a Knife Edge Kick and a Mawashi Geri. As the knee comes forward the foot is extended into knife edge position and the edge of the foot is allowed to slice into and along the target area. The most common target is the thigh where the kick attempts to compress and injure muscle tissue between your foot and the opponent’s thigh bone.
This kick has limited use and is of dubious practicality. You will likely find it very difficult to properly assess distance, range, and finesse when utilizing the kick. But on the other hand, it is an excellent tool for practicing exactly those issues.
Yoko Hiza Geri
This is another knee strike, but this time the strike is driven horizontally. The knee is raised and the shin is brought parallel to the floor in a fashion similar to the delivery of Mawashi Geri. But rather than rotating the knee is then driven forward and into the target. This is most frequently used when you have moved or are moving to the side of your opponent. The strike usually targets the abdomen, solar plexus, front ribs, side ribs, or back, but can also be used effectively as a strike to the thigh. As with all kicks, keep your guard up and get your leg back on the floor quickly. You should also be abundantly aware that you will be standing very close to your opponent as you stand on one leg while delivering this kick.
You may also want to view the discussion of Hiza Geri in the Yellow Belt Front Kicks topic below for more information.