Orange Belt Single Leg Kicks

The following are all double kicks that utilize a single leg. A leg delivers one kick then during the return the leg is positioned to facilitate a second kick, which is immediately delivered.

Many of these kicks require complex torquing sequences that may make it difficult for you to retain proper balance. This is part of the learning process. Over time you will come to appreciate how to perform kicking sequences while maintaining excellent balance.

A problem that most students experience is that the hands do not remain in an effective guard position. The hands jerk, twist, sway, rise, and fall during kicks and especially during kicking transitions. It is natural to consider what your legs and knees are doing and to strive to maintain balance, but you will also want to pay close attention to what your hands are doing. Often those swaying and shifting hand positions are causing your balance problems. Work to ensure everything moves as little and as efficiently as possible, all while keeping your center of gravity directly over your supporting hip and knee. Keep in mind that anything not directly involved in moving your legs should be relaxed. Think of your hands as though they are floating motionless in space so they remain in guard position.

Nido Mae Geri

The word “Nido” means twice, or double, so this is a Double Snap Kick. The kick is delivered by kicking (using Mae Geri) with the leg, bending the knee significantly, and then repeating the kick using the same leg. The kick can be used to kick the same target area twice, but is perhaps more frequently used to strike different targets. Kicking two targets may cause the opponent to move his or her guard to the location of the first strike, exposing a new target opportunity for the second kick. Commonly the first and second kicks are at different elevations. For example, the first kick may be at the Gedan or Chudan level and the second kick may be at the Chudan or Jodan level. The inverse is also common, kicking high and then kicking low to two separate targets. Keep your posture erect and your guard up.

Nido Yoko Geri

This is a Double Side Kick and is also used to kick twice with the same leg, often at different target areas. Again the strikes are also frequently delivered to different elevations. The first kick must be returned briskly so that the knee returns to a position directly forward of your navel. This automatically places the heel of the kicking foot in position to strike again quickly. Potential targets are everything from the foot to the head. Hands must remain in a good guard position or you are vulnerable to a direct strike from your opponent.

Mae Geri – Ushiro Geri

With this combination you kick at two different attackers (presumably). First you kick to the front with a Mae Geri, and then you kick to the back with an Ushiro Geri. The foot does not touch the ground between kicks. This can cause a significant balance problem when you are first learning this combination.

To maintain balance between these two kicks you must a) Return the kicking knee quickly so that the knee is pointed directly downward, b) transition your guard position from a front to a rear guard position, c) keep your shoulders directly above your hips and knees, and d) delay the second kick until you have established good balance. You should work on these aspects of this combination until you can establish good balance between kicks nearly every time.

The most commonly difficulty students have with this combination is in the transition between the two kicks. You must not kick if you have not established good balance during the interval between the two kicks as this will lead to further balance issues, make your second kick ineffective, and provide a tactical advantage to your opponents.

After the second kick you must return the knee briskly and with attitude until it is in front of you (think of kneeing someone who is in front of you when you return the kick). This helps pull your hips forward and your shoulders back to quickly reestablish good balance and posture. Failure to return the knee in this way will normally result in a forward lean that can be exploited by your opponents and that prevents you from moving quickly on to some other task.

Mae Geri – Yoko Geri

The Snap Kick to Side Kick combination might be delivered in at least two possible ways. In either case the same leg is used for both kicks.

In the first instance the combination would assume there are two attackers. In this case the Mae Geri kicks forward to the opponent at Octagon angle 1, and the Yoko Geri kicks to the opponent at either angel 3 or angle 4 (depending on which leg is used). The two kicks could be at the same or different elevations. Return the knee from the first kick such that the thigh is generally horizontal to the floor with the foot down and near your opposite knee. Your posture should be erect as you transition to a side guard and deliver the second kick.

In the second instance the combination would assume a single assailant. The Mae Geri is again delivered straight toward angle 1. The knee is returned as above, but now the foot on the pedestal leg must rotate back toward angle 2 at the same time. This turns your knee toward angle 3 (or angle 4) to position the heel of your foot for the proper delivery of the Yoko Geri toward angle 1. At the completion of the Yoko Geri the knee is returned briskly and the pedestal leg rotates back so you can step back into a Sochin Dachi facing angle 1 or perform some other movement. Be sure that you maintain an effective guard position as you rotate from one kick to another and at the completion of the combination.

You should again not perform the second kick if you have been unable to establish good balance as that will further destabilize you, causing the second kick to be ineffective and providing a tactical advantage to your opponent(s).

If performing the second kicking method (where you assume the two kicks focus on one target) then you might elect to simply step forward with the kicking leg following the second kick. This is known as cross stepping and allows you to quickly move away from an opponent you likely just made quite angry. To do this you would lower the kicking leg to form Juji Dachi facing angle 3 or 4 (depending on which leg performed the kick) then transfer you weight onto this leg. Now move what had been your pedestal leg to angle 8 or 6 (again, depending on which side you are using). Now you will be in Sochin Dachi (or similar stance facing angle 1 with the opposite leg forward.

Let’s go over all of that again with a more concrete example. Let’s assume you are in Hidari Sochin Dachi with your right leg back so you will be kicking with the right leg. You perform the two kicks, both directed toward a single opponent at angle 1. At the completion of the Yoko Geri you return the knee so it moves to your center and in front of your navel. Rather than returning this leg, you step with the right leg to angle 3 to form a very temporary Juji Dachi. Now you transfer your weight onto your right leg so you can step with your left leg to angle 8. If you adopt Sochin Dachi you will find you are in Migi Sochin Dachi facing angle 1. You have changed sides and can now do the same kicking sequence using the left leg – after which you can cross step to change sides again. This is a common method for switching sides when doing multiple kicks in which it is difficult to return the kicking leg to its original location (although it is worthwhile to practice that return method as well).

You should practice both versions of this kick. They are quite different in their delivery methods and balance dynamics.

Yoko Geri – Ushiro Geri

Much like the prior combination-kicks this sequence usually assumes two attackers. Commonly the Yoko Geri is delivered to angle 3 or angle 4 and the Ushiro Geri is delivered to angle 2. With little modification the Yoko Geri could be delivered to angle 1 and the Ushiro Geri could be delivered to angel 3 or angle 4.

In both of these scenarios the first kick is returned such that the thigh remains horizontal to the floor with the kicking foot down near your opposite knee. The heel of this foot is then extended backward into an Ushiro Geri. Your guard should transition appropriately between these two kicks.

There is one additional possible use for this combination and that is to deliver both kicks to a single attacker at angle 1. In this case the pedestal leg must rotate to bring the knee of the kicking leg to face angle 2 before the second kick is delivered. This combination can be effective, but the transition is much more difficult, it is more difficult to maintain your balance, your opponent may jar or disrupt you during the rotation, and it leaves you momentarily with your back turned to your opponent and without a useful guard. For these reasons this tactical use is seldom employed. Having said that, I have seen it used very effectively against sparring opponents who like to fade back before and then charge forward after a kick, which allows them to walk right into the Ushiro Geri.

Ushiro Geri – Mae Geri

You might kick first to the rear and then to the front if you have two attackers and the person behind you is closer than the person in front. The knee is returned to the front following the Ushiro Geri to angle 2 (as normal) and then the foot is extended to deliver the Mae Geri to the person at angle 1. You would return this second kick so that it allows you to reposition yourself so you are no longer situated directly between two attackers.

This brings up the point that given a choice you would never stand directly between two attackers to punch, kick, or do anything else. It is always best to move so that you are dealing with only one person at a time. Kicking or striking combinations that have you positioned between two attackers should only be used as a last resort.

The transition between the Ushiro Geri and the Mae Geri can be troublesome. If you return the Ushiro Geri without gusto then you will likely find you are leaning forward before you begin the Mae Geri. This makes this second kick hard to perform well. If the knee is returned briskly after the first kick it can help pull your body more erect and allow the Mae Geri to be delivered with better elevation and fluidity.

Mawashi Geri – Yoko Geri

With this combination a single leg is used to strike twice at a single opponent. A Mawashi Geri is delivered, but upon completion of the kick the knee is pull straight back in so the knee is forward of your navel, the shin is generally parallel to the floor and the heel points directly at the opponent. The Yoko Geri is then extended into the target area and quickly returned to the same position. Now the foot drops down and draws back to reestablish a Sochin Dachi. The foot might also initiate a cross step so you can move away from the opponent and switch sides. Naturally, you may also wish to move in some other manner to assist with your next planned tactic.

The Mawashi Geri often strikes the thigh, ribs, or head while the Yoko Geri usually focuses on a Chudan or Jodan level target. However, any area of the body from foot to head could be a target for either kick.

This kicking combination might also be used if you miss what had been intended only to be a Mawashi Geri. If you strike with a Mawashi Geri but the opponent moves back away from the kick then the Mawashi Geri will likely miss, causing you to be in a somewhat awkward position. If the opponent now charges forward you will have the option to strike as they approach by employing a Yoko Geri.

Mae Geri – Mawashi Geri

This combination might more accurately be called a Snap to Wheel combination since the knee position after the Mae Geri is the proper knee position from which to initiate the Wheel Kick. Both kicks are delivered to the person at angle 1. The critical technical aspect of this kick is to combine both the return from the first kick and the body rotation to position the leg for the Wheel Kick all in the same motion. So the return of the first kick is happening as part of the knee positioning for the second kick. This both speeds up the kicking combination and properly positions the foot for the second kick.

You will notice this combination in use a great deal during sparring and Kumite. The most common usage is to strike perhaps to the abdomen with the Mae Geri and to then strike to the head with the Mawashi Geri. The theory being that the first kick will cause the opponent to lower his or her guard allowing the second strike to succeed. This combination is in frequent use because the theory does often work.

Ideally however, one would kick at an available target with the first kick and then select an available target for the second kick and not have a predefined target in mind. Look for the opportunities that are unveiled during the course of a conflict rather than assuming a specific target will be available.

A bad habit that students get into is assuming the first kick is simply some form of feint intended solely to get the opponent to lower his or her guard. This is looking at the kick incorrectly. Both kicks should assume a solid impact with the opponent. If the opponent lower’s their guard then great – you have kicked them twice for good effect. But if the opponent does not lower his or her guard, then only your first kick would have been successful. Always work to make both kicks effective.

Mawashi Geri – Mawashi Geri

Also referred to as a Roundhouse to Wheel Kick this combination uses a traditional Roundhouse kick, but the knee is only slightly retracted at the completion of the kick. A Wheel Kick is then immediately thrown, perhaps to a different target area. This is another instance where a low-to-high or high-to-low targeting strategy can be used. Both kicks are delivered by the same leg to the same opponent. The final kick must be returned briskly to restore good structure and to establish a useful stance.

You might also think of this as a Nido Mawashi Geri.

(Mae) Ura Mawashi Geri – (Mae) Mawashi Geri

Use either the front or rear leg to strike with a Heel Hook kick to the opponent at angle 1. Bend but do not return the kicking knee and then use the same leg to strike with a Mawashi Geri. This combination is most commonly used when kicking to the head, but could be used as a high-low impact combination.

This is a hard kick to do while maintaining good balance. Start by kicking low so that you maintain good balance throughout. Over time your elevation and balance will naturally improve without much conscious effort.

If the back leg is kicking then this combination would be Ura Mawashi Geri -Mawashi Geri. If the front leg is kicking then this would be Mae Ura Mawashi Geri – Mae Mawashi Geri. The nomenclature can be a little confusing since if the back leg is used, then the second kick would technically be using what is then the front leg. But since this leg will return back to its original position it will still be considered the back leg.

Mikazuki Geri – Yoko Kekomi Geri

Often used to brush a weapon or arm aside and then strike with power at the opponent, the Crescent to Side Thrust involves delivery of a Mikazuki Geri followed immediately by a Yoko Kekomi Geri using the same leg. The back leg normally initiates the kick, but the front leg might be used in some circumstances.

The critical part of this kick is the rotation and pedestal leg (foot) position change needed to accomplish the second kick. As the first kick completes the knee is returned to a position just forward of your navel. The shin of this leg is held to position the heel so it points at the target. As the knee is retracted to this position your pedestal foot should rotate to face angel 2 allowing your torso to rotate so that your shoulders are generally aligned along the octagon angles 1 and 2 axis and your heel points at your target. The Yoko Kekomi Geri is then extended such that a further rotation of the hips and shoulders helps derive additional power for the kick.

Since you are now likely rotated more than 180° from your original orientation and your center is rotated almost toward angel 8, it becomes difficult to rotate all of the way back to your original position. For this reason you would normally perform a cross step to both move you away from the opponent and facilitate turning to face the opponent again. This essentially places your other leg back and is how multiple consecutive kicks are done with practicing the kick in the Dojo. You kick, change sides via a Cross Step, and then kick with the opposite side. Note that this is simply a practice methodology and in a conflict you might opt to do any number of things here, including simply returning to a Heiko Dachi facing angle 2 and striking back with an Ushiro Geri, or stepping with the kicking leg to angel 7 (or 5) to allow you to deliver a sequence of Atemi. You should not confuse convenient practice methods with actual conflict strategies.

You should note that this same combination might be delivered as a Mikazuki Geri – Yoko Geri pairing.

Hiza Geri – Mae Geri

A single leg (commonly the back leg) or both legs may be used to strike with this kicking combination. The knee rises into the target area and then the snap kick strikes the same area.

A problem with this combination when using a single leg is that the knee and foot are in different relevant positions so it is not possible for both to strike the same location without some movement. So one of these conditions must exist: a) the knee strike must force the opponent to move away so that the foot will now be able to strike at its natural range, b) the foot must strike a different target area that will be in proper range for the foot, or c) you must hop or shift backward on the rooted leg to bring the foot into range of your intended target. The last option is risky as it causes a shift in your balance and structure while in close contact with an opponent. It is not an especially wise option.

When using two legs the Hiza Geri is delivered first (typically) and then the other leg delivers the Mae Geri. Either the front or back leg may be used to initiate this kicking combination. In either case the same range issue involving the Mae Geri remains. The foot may be in too close to strike the intended target properly. This is better addressed with this version of the kick because the leg returning from the Hiza Geri can be used to step and reposition to establish proper Ma Ai for the second kick.

This kick is often used to strike to the groin and that is usually the first scenario that comes to mind when initially considering this combination. But a more effective use is when an opponent is bent forward significantly such that his or her back is nearly parallel to the floor. This places the ribs, abdomen, face, and a host of vital organs in range for both kicks. In this situation it is quite common to step back slightly between the first and second strike to keep the target area is range – but this may not be needed if separate targets are involved.

Yoko Geri – Ura Mawashi Geri

If you were to strike with a Yoko Geri to the Chudan Level it may cause your opponent to lower their guard. By returning the Yoko Geri such that the knee is positioned forward of your navel you would be able to quickly respond with the same leg using an Ura Mawashi Geri to strike to the head. This is the essence of this kicking combination.

Yoko Geri – Yoko Kekomi Geri

Here is another combination where properly returning the first kick positions you automatically to initiate a subsequent kick. After landing the Yoko Geri the knee is returned forward of the navel and a Yoko Kekomi Geri is immediately initiated using the same leg. Additional hip rotation and some rotation of the pedestal leg is normally required to derive additional power for the second kick. The two kicks do not need to strike the same location.

The first kick might be used to stop an opponent’s advance and the second to inflict more serious pain or injury. Both are powerful kicks and when used in rapid succession can be very penetrating. Note that the second kick may not be effective if the first kick has caused the opponent to be pushed back or if the opponent suddenly retreats. While it is true that the Yoko Kekomi Geri has slightly greater range that a Yoko Geri, this increased range may not be sufficient if the opponent has moved any significant distance.

An opposite concern involves the situation where the first kick has not thwarted the advance of the opponent. In this case the second kick will simply be jammed by the opponent and will leave you in a state of compromised structural integrity. The second kick should not be delivered if an opponent continues to advance. In this case you may wish to perform a simple cross step to gain some distance and time.

Ushiro Geri – Ushiro Kekomi Geri

This combination would be used much like the Yoko Geri – Yoko Kekomi Geri combination except this time the opponent is approaching from or positioned to your rear. The Ushiro Geri strikes to retard encroachment by the opponent and the second kick immediately follows to perhaps drive the opponent away or to inflict more significant pain or injury.

Normally one does not stand and strike an opponent with your back turned toward him or her. However there are times when this is practical and effective. You must not linger in this position however. Once you have completed your intended Atemi or Keri you must escape or turn to face your opponent.

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