Spinning kicks involve turning your body in some significant way as you deliver the kick. These kicks require excellent balance and precision of movement. Once you have those elements under control you can begin to speed up the delivery of your kicks.
The term “Kaiten” means to spin or spinning. There are several common kicks in the martial arts that use this term to mean a forward roll. In this context, a kick is delivered by rolling forward (or sometimes to the side) and then letting your legs strike the opponent’s head during the middle part of the roll. In Tensoku Ryu we also use the term Kaiten in this context. This type of spin might be thought of as a vertical spin.
But we also use Kaiten to mean a horizontal spin. If you rotate on your pedestal leg to bring your back leg into position to strike then the term Kaiten may be used to describe this action. But the term Mawashi is also commonly used for this type of action as well. In the following kicks, we use Mawashi when the first leg is kicking in a rotational manner, and use Kaiten when the second kick is delivered in a rotational manner. This might seem confusing initially, but you will soon learn how to differentiate these various terms and kicking methods.
The term Ura also requires some explanation. If you kick with one leg and then spin to kick with the other leg, then the second kick, perhaps an Ushiro Geri, will be described using the term Ura. If you spin after some kick and subsequently kick with a rear kick, then the kick would be described as Ushiro Geri if the same leg was used in both kicks. It would be described as Ura Ushiro Geri if the opposite leg was used in the second kick.
It is critically important in almost all spinning kicks to keep your spine straight, your head up, and your hips over your supporting or pedestal leg. It also helps to spin your head around quickly so you can find your target at the earliest possible moment. This helps with targeting and balance, and greatly reduces the chances of becoming dizzy.
If you begin to get dizzy when doing these kicks let your instructor know or take a short break and try again later. If you persist with kicking when you start to feel dizzy you will likely become nauseated. Stop at the earliest onset of symptoms and take a short break.
Kaiten Ushiro Geri
This kick, also commonly called a spinning rear kick, is very similar to the Aruki Ushiro Geri. You turn your back and kick toward your original angle 1, but this time you kick with what had been your rear leg. It is a very fast kick requiring excellent balance. It is possible to step forward slightly with the front leg to gain some distance before turning, but the kick is often used without stepping when the opponent is in range.
The kick is performed by spinning backward to establish Heiko Dachi facing your original angle 2. You then kick with what had been your rear leg toward what had been your original angle 1. Since you are effectively spinning in place and employing the back leg as it naturally moves in toward Heiko Dachi, this kick can be delivered very quickly, leaving very little time for an opponent to react to it.
The downside to this kick is that you turn your back on the opponent. This must be done to achieve the maximum range and power for the kick. The positive side is the opponent seldom expects this type of attack. Since the kick can ultimately be delivered very rapidly it can be an extremely effective, unexpected, and powerful kick.
Mikazuki Geri – Ushiro Geri
This combination uses the same leg to deliver two kicks in rapid sequence. A Mikazuki Geri is delivered first. The rotational energy from this kick is used to turn the body so your back faces the opponent. The kicking leg is returned with the knee pointing downward and then instantly strikes backward with Ushiro Geri toward the opponent.
If you have used a high Mikazuki Geri it may be advantageous to use a lower Ushiro Geri to avoid the opponent’s guard. But as always, keep your eye on the opponent so you can best select the location for the second kick.
At the completion of the second kick you would normally return the kicking leg forward and then use it to step toward your local angle 5 or 7 to move away from the opponent and get off of the center line. You will want to turn to face the opponent or use this as an opportunity to escape.
Mikazuki Geri – Ura Ushiro Geri
When performing this kicking combination you begin exactly like the Mikazuki Geri – Ushiro Geri combination. When the Mikazuki Geri completes, weight is transferred from the pedestal leg to what had been the kicking leg. Now that leg becomes the pedestal leg and the other (Ura) leg performs an Ushiro Geri to the original target.
Mawashi Geri – Ushiro Geri
This combination is delivered in a manner nearly identical to the Mikazuki Geri – Ushiro Geri combination. The only difference is that the first kick is a Mawashi Geri.
Both kicks have similar advantages and risks. One benefit of this sequence is its potential use when sparring. If you deliver a Mawashi Geri that misses you may notice that your opponent begins to close in for a strike. Dropping your knee and striking with Ushiro Geri may catch them by surprise as they quickly move within striking distance.
You will want to cross-cover out of this kick to move out of the direct line of fire for your opponent.
Mawashi Geri – Ura Ushiro Geri
Performing this kick is done in a manner nearly identical to the Mawashi Geri – Ushiro Geri combination. The only difference is that weight is transferred from the pedestal leg to the leg that just completed the Mawashi Geri. The opposite (Ura) leg now delivers a Ushiro Geri to the same target.
Kaiten Ura Mawashi Geri
This kick is often called a spinning heel hook kick. Your weight is transferred onto the front leg as you begin rotating your body backwards. The back leg rises toward the opponent until it strikes using the heel or the sole of the foot. Normally you will continue rotating until your foot lands back in its original location. You are relying on the inertia created from the spin and the extension and sudden bending of the kicking leg to generate tremendous power at the point of contact.
Kaiten Ura Mikazuki Geri
Also called a spinning rear crescent kick, this kick involves the same process as the Kaiten Ura Mawashi Geri, except an Ura Mikazuki Geri is delivered with the back leg instead.
Mae Geri – Ura Ushiro Geri
To deliver this kick you begin with a traditional Mae Geri. As you return the leg you spin in a forward direction so your back is toward your opponent and place your kicking-foot on the floor adjacent to your other foot (Heisoku Dachi or Heiko Dachi). Shift your weight onto this foot and then kick with Ushiro Geri using the opposite leg. Return this leg forward so that you step away from the opponent, then either escape or turn to face him or her.
Mae Geri – Kaiten Ushiro Geri
This kick is nearly identical to the Mae Geri – Ura Ushiro Geri except that the same leg is used for both kicks. As the Mae Geri completes you return the kicking knee and rotate on the pedestal leg to turn your back to the opponent. You then kick backward with Ushiro Geri using the same leg. At the completion of this kick step forward with the kicking leg and then either escape or pivot on this leg to turn and face the opponent.
Kaiten Yoko Geri
The Kaiten Yoko Geri is typically delivered from a stance such as Sochin Dachi. Shift your weight onto your front leg so it becomes your pedestal leg as you then being spinning backward. When what had been your back hip is pointed toward angle 1 deliver a Yoko Geri to angle 1. Return the leg in front and use it as a cross-step to move off of the opponent’s center line.
Kaiten Mawashi Geri
The Spinning Roundhouse Kick is delivered by first stepping forward with the back leg so it is positioned behind and just forward of the front leg, as though you were attempting to establish a Juji Dachi. Now shift forward so that what had been your back leg now becomes your pedestal leg. Spin backward until what had been your front leg is positioned to deliver a Mawashi Geri to angle 1.
Kaiten Mikazuki Geri
The delivery for this kick is nearly identical to the Kaiten Mawashi Geri except that a Mikazuki Geri is delivered instead of a Mawashi Geri.
Reverse Iron Broom
The iron broom might be considered Nage No Waza instead of Keri No Waza, but in any event it uses the leg to sweep an opponent off of one or both feet. Begin from Sochin Dachi and then lower both hands to the floor in front of you. Shift your weight onto your front foot as you raise the front heel off of the floor. Support your weight fully on the ball of your front foot and both hands. Your back leg should be straight behind you with your foot resting gently on the floor.
Now spin backwards until the calf and heel of your back leg impact the front leg or both legs of your opponent near his or her ankle. Your back leg should remain straight and should continue moving until it has passed completely beyond your opponent’s torso to minimize the possibility that he or she will land on your outstretched leg. Throughout the rotation you will constantly shift the positions of your hands to aid and support you in the rotation. It is common to lean forward significantly during the execution of this kick.
At the completion of the kick bend your knee and pull your kicking knee in toward your torso. Rise to either move away or to further deal with your opponent.
Forward Iron Broom
The Front Iron Broom is usually easier to execute than the Rear Iron Broom. It is begun by bending the front leg forward until it touches the floor. The hands come forward and rest on the ground forward of your front knee. The back leg remains straight behind you with foot resting lightly on the floor. Now spin forward, allowing the back leg to sweep forward in an arc toward your opponent. Impact one or both of the opponent’s legs with the shin of your moving leg.
The most obvious risk in this kick is placing your hands and head down and forward toward your opponent. But there may be times where the risk of this action is limited.
With practice you may find that it relatively easy to go from a Forward Iron Broom direction into a Reverse Iron Broom, which might be useful if someone has stepped back slightly to avoid the first sweep. But in reality this is not a likely sequence in an ongoing conflict. It looks nice though for someone considering the development of a Kata or other movements to use in a tournament or demonstration.
The Spinning Ax Kick is delivered by shifting your weight onto your front leg and then spinning backwards as the back foot raises above shoulder level. As the back foot approaches angle 1 it drops straight downward with great speed and power.