The word ‘Aruki’ means walking, so Aruki Geri refers to kicks that are initiated by a walking motion. Walking kicks involve moving forward or back immediately before delivering the kick. In many ways, the walking movement is intended to help set up or preposition you for the subsequent kick. This movement also commonly adds speed and power to the kick. It should also be noted that sometimes these kicks can be masked such that the kick comes as a surprise to the opponent. At other times the kicks can be fairly obvious and may not fool an opponent in the slightest. Study ways in which you can mask the delivery of these kicks so they are less detectable by an opponent or sparring partner.
When practicing these kicks it is customary to step to perform the kick, and then to retrace your steps so you return to your original position. This allows you to repeat the kicking sequence and is especially useful in classes or as a practice regime. However, this is not necessarily the way you would move after a given kick in a conflict. You want to be adaptable so you can move forward, back, or to the side following a kick to take advantage of your opponent’s position, posture, and structural alignment. This also helps you to be much less predictable. And of course, you will always want to consider the Central Plane following any movement.
The method for practicing kicks also inherently suggests a linear delivery pattern. When practicing in this way you tend to strike directly forward along your Center Line (and toward the Mother Line of your opponent). This is not always ideal. Some martial arts styles are very linear in this respect. They assume the opponent is always directly in front of them. We want to be as nonlinear as possible. Moving to the side (for example octagon angels 5 or 7) often provides the ability to still deliver the same kick, but moves you off of the opponent’s Center Line to reduce the chances of a counter strike. This also affords you with a larger variety of targets for your kicks than if you always linearly perform the kick.
Aruki Ushiro Geri
From a Sochin Dachi or similar stance turn your back toward your opponent as you bring your back leg immediately adjacent to your front leg. Shift your weight so that all of your weight is now on what had been your back leg. You should now be facing angle 2. Raise what had been your front leg and deliver an Ushiro Geri to angle 1 (your local angle 2).
Generally, you will want to immediately return the kicking leg and then use it to step forward and away from your opponent. You would then step forward with the opposite leg and subsequently turn to face your opponent or sparring partner.
In a conflict, you might wish to stay close to your opponent. This can be done by using several different stepping patterns. The most common is to transfer weight onto what had been the kicking leg and then rotating your center toward your opponent, allowing the opposite leg to move until you arrive at a Sochin Dachi or related stance facing your opponent. Other stepping patterns are also possible. Experiment to see what does and what does not work well. You will probably not wish to stay in front of your opponent with your back to them. You will also want to consider ways in which you can move off of the opponent’s Center Line.
Aruki Juji Yoko Kekomi Geri
This is a very powerful and effective kick. Begin from a Sochin Dachi or a similar stance and shift your weight into your front leg. Now move the back leg behind and then toward the front of the front leg to form a temporary Juji Dachi. Quickly shift your weight onto this leg and raise the opposite leg (what had originally been your front leg) and use it to deliver a Yoko Kekomi Geri. Return the kicking leg and then step back with the opposite leg to again establish a Sochin Dachi or to prepare for an additional sequence of movements. This is the typical way of performing this kick in class or during practices where you will do the kick multiple times in a sequence.
In a conflict, you may decide not to return the kick at all, but instead, step forward and plant the kicking foot directly in front of your opponent. This allows you to then perform other strikes, kicks or controlling maneuvers while you are close to the opponent.
When done with continuous momentum during delivery this is a very powerful kick and has the potential to cause rib, hip, forearm, and internal organ injuries to your opponent or training partner. This kick can be delivered quite quickly and due to its linear nature, it is somewhat difficult to see coming.
You can control the amount you travel forward by selecting the placement of the foot in the first step. If you have a short step that only goes slightly forward of the original front leg, then your kick will have a more limited range. Stepping significantly forward of the original front leg will increase your range fairly dramatically.
Aruki Mawashi Geri
This kick is performed simply by stepping forward with the back leg (this leg does not go behind the other leg) so it becomes your front leg, and then delivering a Mawashi Geri using the new back leg. For example, if you are in a Hidari Sochin Dachi, the right leg would move directly toward angle 1 and forward of the left leg, and then the left leg would deliver the kick. This kick is primarily used to close significant distance on your opponent or to attack an opponent who is attempting to move back and out of range.
When practicing this kick in class or when performing multiple kicks in sequence the kick is normally returned by simply reversing the stepping pattern until you end up in the same position from which you started. When in a conflict it is usually more advantageous to step forward so that you remain in close contact with your opponent as you prepare for subsequent movements. Of course, you can always return if you feel that being close to your opponent is not to your strategic advantage at the moment or if you now wish to initiate an escape.
An alternate and effective version of this kick is to step forward with the back leg to either angle 5 or 7 (depending on which leg is moving). This provides the opportunity to move away from your opponent’s Center Line while you rotate and strike along a newly established center. We strive to be unpredictable and nonlinear whenever possible.
Aruki Juji Mawashi Geri
This kick is similar to the Aruki Mawashi Geri. The difference is in the performance of the first step. In the Aruki Juji Mawashi Geri, the first step moves behind, and then forward of, the original front leg (i.e. a Juji Dachi). The Mae Mawashi Geri is then delivered using the front leg.
When you perform this kick you may feel that the alignment is not optimal. You may feel that it might be easy to jam or block your kick or that you will not be able to strike the target effectively. These are good insights. The kick is not especially useful when delivered along linear lines (though it is not completely useless in this regard either). Instead, think of what happens if your initial step positions you somewhat to the side of your opponent.
But this stepping pattern can be a bit awkward. Stepping back, behind your front leg, and to the side even seems to be a bit more uncomfortable. Why is this a practical kick at all?
Think about the dynamics of a conflict. If your opponent moves back and slightly to their side then this kick can be delivered in a non-linear manner by moving linearly. The relative angles between yourself and your opponent have changed so it is easier to cross and then deliver a Mawashi Geri than if your opponent had remained directly in front of you. Begin to consider how kicks can be used in dynamic situations where both you and your opponent are in relative motion to one another. This is what will occur in a fight. Nobody stands still for very long. Learn to anticipate and take advantage of these relative movements.
So this kick can result from a failed Aruki Juji Yoko Kekomi Geri. If you step forward to perform the Aruki Juji Yoko Kekomi Geri but the opponent moves toward your face side, then they will have moved into the perfect position to receive an Aruki Juji Mawashi Geri. This is the primary use of this kick.
Let’s explore a concrete example. Let’s say you have your right leg back then step forward in an attempt to deliver an Aruki Juji Yoko Kekomi Geri to the opponent at angle 1. The opponent thinks, “Hey, no fool am I.” He or she then moves out of the line of fire by stepping in the direction of your angle 7. “Ha, ha, ha. Your little side-thrust kick thing has failed miserably!” While the opponent is congratulating himself or herself, you deliver Hidari Mawashi Geri to angle 7, the angle for which you are perfectly centered. Kablammy – sorry, I got carried away.
There are three kicks that you can use against an opponent who starts near Octagon angle 1. Assuming you are stepping forward into a Juji Dachi by moving the right leg (e.g. the left leg will be kicking), then you have the following choices:
- If the opponent remains at angle 1 then you kick with Aruki Juji Yoko Kekomi Geri.
- If the opponent steps toward your angle 7 then you kick with Aruki Juji Mawashi Geri.
- If the opponent steps toward angle 5 then ou kick with Aruki Juji Ura Mawashi Geri.
Aruki Ura Mawashi Geri
This is the walking version of the Ura Mawashi Geri. You step into this kick by moving the back leg in front and forward of the front leg and then lifting what had been the front leg to kick.
You might also step so the back leg moves behind the front leg to form a temporary Juji Dachi, in which case this kick would technically be an Aruki Juji Ura Mawashi Geri. You might use this version if you attempted an Aruki Juji Yoko Kekomi Geri but your opponent moved toward your Back Side. Assuming they are in range, the Aruki Juji Ura Mawashi Geri would readily target the opponent as they move.
When practicing this kick you may do either version. You will benefit from being able to do them both, but you need only demonstrate one version on your ranking examination.
Aruki Hiza Geri
The Aruki Hiza Geri involves stepping forward with the back leg and then raising what was the front leg to deliver a knee strike. You generally attempt to move toward the side of your opponent and then deliver the kick. This puts you a bit off-center as you strike, but can be very useful if your opponent turns to face you as you move.
Nihon Mae Ashi Geri
To deliver this kick begin by delivering a Mae Ashi Geri with the front leg. Return this leg by stepping back until it is behind the other leg as you establish a Sochin Dachi. Pull the new front leg back into a Neko Ashi Dachi and deliver a Mae Ashi Geri with this leg.
This combination is frequently used to keep an advancing opponent back or away from you. After the second kick, you will want to move in a different direction or somehow redirect your efforts so that you do not establish a pattern the opponent can use to his or her advantage.