Tobi Geri

You will explore numerous jumping kicks (Tobi Geri) in your quest to achieve the Blue Belt ranking. When you learn a new kick practice it on the ground at first until you have the basic pattern of movement down, and then jump only slightly at first to gain a sense of the balance and momentum needs of the kick. As with everything, your elevation, speed, and balance will improve with practice.

When practicing these kicks strive to land with the minimum amount of noise. A soft and gentle landing is preferred because it requires you to maintain control throughout the duration of the kick. It would also make your current location more difficult to detect in a darkened room or other environments where visibility is limited.

It is often assumed that the reason you would jump when kicking is to allow you to strike a higher elevation target. This may or may not be true. If your posture is not correct then jumping may actually result in you having to kick lower than you might have otherwise. Additionally, it is often of strategic advantage to jump up and then kick low. Your opponent will probably assume you intend to kick to the head and may raise their guard to defend against such a kick. While you would want to look in the vicinity of the opponent’s face to convince them that is your intended target, you might elect to kick to the abdomen or even the groin because these areas may no longer be protected.

Tobi Mae Geri

Begin in a Sochin Dachi or similar stance. Using both legs, spring upward and rotate your back hip forward while raising your back knee. As you approach your maximum elevation deliver a Mae Geri with the back leg. Twist your hips back and land once again in your original stance.

Flying Snap

This kick utilizes a Tobi Mae Geri, but it is used to cover a substantial forward distance. It usually is initiated from a stance such as Sochin Dachi. Use the back leg to step toward angle 1. As this leg plants, it is used to spring upward and forward toward angle 1. The opposite knee now rises briskly to add additional momentum and lift to the kick. What had been your original back leg now delivers a Tobi Mae Geri to angle 1. Both feet will be off the ground during the kick.

Tobi Mae Ashi Geri

The movement and delivery of this kick are identical to the Tobi Mae Geri with the exception that the front leg is used to deliver the kick. Sometimes this kick is initiated from a stance such as Heiko Dachi.

Tobi Ushiro Geri

Usually, this kick is delivered from Heisoku Dachi or Heiko Dachi. You jump directly upward and then extended the kicking foot back into [glossary]Ushiro Geri. Use the returning knee to initiate a step forward to move away from your opponent.

Tobi Yoko Geri

This kick is normally initiated from a stance such as Heiko Dachi that is rotated so one leg faces the opponent and the other is back. To deliver the kick, jump directly upward and position the front foot so the heel points downward. As you approach maximum elevation strike with Yoko Geri toward the opponent. Immediately retract the leg and land in your original stance.

Flying Side Kick

The Flying Side Kick utilizes a Yoko Geri but the method for positioning your body to deliver this kick is different than the simpler Tobi Yoko Geri. With the Flying Side Kick your body is in motion toward your opponent. You then jump upward and spin so that your back leg comes forward and is positioned to deliver the Yoko Geri.

A common way to practice this kick is to stand in Heiko Dachi and then step forward with the non-kicking leg. As the front leg becomes rooted it is used to spring the body upward and to rotate the body so the kicking leg comes forward. The Yoko Geri is delivered as the hip on the kicking-side points in the direction of the opponent.

Commonly the non-kicking leg folds upward during the kick so that the instep of the non-kicking leg presses into the thigh and near the knee of the kicking leg. It need not touch the kicking leg but is positioned up and out of the way of any potential interference.  It also helps streamline and properly orientate your body during the kick. The image at the top of this article shows the general position of this leg. This is only practical if you have developed either substantial forward momentum or high elevation. You will not have time to assume this foot position and then reposition the leg for landing if you are kicking a low target or have little forward momentum.

This kick can derive some additional power if you delay the extension of your kick until the moment you begin to feel that your body has begun to fall. Kicking slightly downward with the Yoko Geri will produce substantial power due in part to the trajectory of the kick and in part to the assistance provided by gravity. It is not always advantageous to kick this way, but it allows much more power to be developed if you are kicking to the lower torso.

Tobi Mawashi Geri

When delivering this kick you may elect to either jump directly upward from a stance such as Sochin Dachi, or step forward with the non-kicking leg from a stance such as Heiko Dachi and then jump using what will then be your front leg. As you jump you also rotate the hips around until the back leg can deliver a Mawashi Geri to the opponent.

Tobi Ura Mawashi Geri

This is also called a Jump Spinning Heel Hook and can be an extremely difficult kick to learn. The basic methodology begins in a stance such as a shallow Sochin Dachi. You then jump up using both legs and spin backward while the back leg moves toward the target at angle 1. As your back hip comes around you deliver an Ura Mawashi Geri (heel hook) toward the opponent.

When practicing this kick it is common to allow the kicking leg to move back and down until the original Sochin Dachi is reestablished. You can then perform the kick again on the same side.

Focus on maintaining an upright posture throughout the kick, even if it results in a relatively low kick. Trying to kick too high initially will cause you great balance problems and may result in you falling in odd or unexpected ways. Do not practice this kick if there are any obstructions or obstacles on which you might accidentally land if you fall.

The second difficulty people experience with this kick is getting the body to turn far enough around before the kick is delivered. You might wish to just practice the jump and the spin portion of the kick until you feel comfortable doing that repeatedly. Try to notice and sense when your hip is in the proper location during each spin. Once that feels comfortable you can begin to introduce the kicking portion of the maneuver.

540 Kick

This is another relatively difficult kick to master. This is usually simply called the 540 kick (Go Hyaku Yon Ju Geri in Japanese). You will see this kick quite often in the movies because it has dramatic visual elements that make it seem quite devastating to an opponent. The movies do not always accurately portray reality.

This kick has a great many different varieties or methods of execution. It is commonly called a Tornado Kick, Inside Turning Kick, Gyro Crescent, or Crescent to Rear Double Crescent kick, depending partly on the system in which it is practiced and the delivery method employed. Common to all these versions is that you will spin a full 540 degrees and jump as part of the delivery mechanism for the kick.

In the Tornado Kick and Inside Turning Kick versions only a single kick is typically delivered. Much of the spinning is done while both feet are on the ground and the jumping portion of the kick only entails the last 180 degrees of rotation. During this final 180 degrees rotation, a Tobi Mikazuki Geri is delivered to angle one. This is a useful delivery method for this kick. We will also study the more difficult Crescent to Rear Double Crescent version. It is easy to adapt this latter kick so that only a single Crescent kick is delivered instead (what we will refer to as a Tornado Kick). For testing purposes, you may deliver either version of this kick. We will first explain the Crescent to Rear Double Crescent.

We begin the Crescent to Rear Double Crescent from a stance such as Sochin Dachi and deliver a Mikazuki Geri toward angle 1 while still on the ground. Allow the momentum of the kick to cause your body to rotate so that your back turns to the opponent. Place the kicking leg on the floor to form Heiko Dachi or Heisoku Dachi facing away from your opponent. Bend your knees somewhat. Now shift your weight onto what was the kicking leg and raise the knee of the opposite leg while you continue rotating in the same direction as before. Use what had been your kicking leg to propel you upward as the opposite leg strikes with an Ura Mikazuki Geri to angle 1. Continue rotating and then strike with the first leg again with a Mikazuki Geri toward angle 1. You will be in the air for both of the last two kicks.

In practice, it is very difficult to have all three kicks strike effectively. Usually, the Ura Mikazuki Geri is used primarily to generate rotational momentum to help accelerate the delivery of the final kick. Nonetheless, you should strive to make all three kicks effective, but you should not be surprised if this proves very difficult or impossible to achieve.

The key to this kick is the transition of your feet while you are facing away from the opponent. As the first kick completes you plant this foot down with determination and immediately shift all of your weight onto this leg. Then you instantly use this leg to spring up and rotate your body further in the same direction. It takes a good deal of practice to make all this happen smoothly and continuously.

This is a highly energetic kick. Any lean or imbalance in your body will be exaggerated by the momentum generated in the kick. This will cause you to wobble in the air, move away from your original location, or lose your balance, potentially resulting in a fall. Keep the head directly over the hips at all times.

Once you become comfortable with both delivery and balance begin to work on achieving maximum acceleration throughout the rotational portions of the kick. Then ensure that all of the kicks are delivered cleanly in the direction of angle 1.

The Tornado Kick has the same basic rotational aspects as the Crescent to Rear Double Crescent, but the delivery mechanism is a little different. Begin from a shallow Sochin Dachi (or perhaps Heiko Dachi) and then step toward angle 1 with your front (leading) leg. Continue moving forward by stepping to angle 1 with your back leg as you begin to rotate. As your weight fully transfers onto your new front leg, use this leg to propel your body upward and to continue your rotation. Your back leg will rotate through angle 1 and then what had been your front leg will rotate through angle 1 as it delivers a Mikazuki Geri to angle 1. You will then land on both legs nearly simultaneously.

The Tornado kick often requires a little more space between yourself and the opponent, but it is better suited to deal with someone who is at some distance away. It also generates more rotational momentum than the Crescent to Rear Double Crescent. But the kick is also easier to detect because it covers a greater amount of territory during delivery. It also employs only one striking mechanism. Experiment with both versions to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of these two kicks in differing situations. Once you become accustomed to using both versions you will see there is actually very little difference between the two as far as the rotational delivery method is concerned.

Tobi Keara Ushiro Geri

Also called the Jump Spinning Rear, this kick is usually initiated from a stance such as Sochin Dachi. Both legs are used to propel the body upward and to cause the body to rotate so the back faces the opponent. What had been the back leg is then used to strike with an Ushiro Geri at the opponent.

In some cases, you may wish to jump directly upward. In other cases, you may wish to step slightly forward with the front leg so the kick can develop more momentum and strike at a somewhat further distance.

Tobi Mae Ura Mawashi Geri

Usually initiated from a shallow Sochin Dachi, this kick involves using both legs to propel you directly upward. The front leg then strikes with a heel hook to angle 1.

Jump Fading Side

This is very similar to the Tobi Yoko Geri except that the initial jump propels you back and away from the opponent. It might be used to keep an opponent at bay or to strike as part of an exit strategy.

Tobi Mae Geri – Ushiro Geri

This kick is an exercise in the precision of movement and speed. Begin in Heiko Dachi and then use both legs to spring directly upward. Raise the knee of the kicking leg forward and then strike with Mae Geri to angle 1. Immediately return the kick and lower the knee until it is adjacent to the knee of the opposite leg. Now strike backward with Ushiro Geri to angle 2. This all sounds simple enough until someone tells you that the goal is to deliver both kicks while both feet are in the air. That is actually quite difficult to do, but with practice and some thought it can be readily accomplished.

If you get really good at this kick then you might decide to challenge yourself with a jumping triple. This is a Mae Geri to angle 1, a Yoko Geri to angel 3 or 4 (depending on which leg is kicking), and an Ushiro Geri to angle 2. And yes, all kicks should occur while both feet are in the air during a single jump. This requires exceptionally high jumps and very rapid kick transitions. If you can’t do this triple jumping kick, don’t worry about it. Neither could I.

Tobi Nido Mae Geri

This combination is nearly identical to the Flying Snap kick except that both legs perform a Mae Geri to angle 1 while in the air. The first kick is commonly directed at a low target while the second kick commonly strikes up higher on the body, but of course, the targets selected would depend entirely upon your goals and objectives.

Sometimes this kick is used to “walk-up” the body of the opponent. The final kick is then used to push the attacker (and/or yourself) back. This is simply a subtle change in intent for the kick to satisfy a special purpose situation.

Tobi Mae Geri – Yoko Geri

This is another combination kick similar to the Jumping Double kick. Here the two kicks to be performed are the Mae Geri to angle 1 and a Yoko Geri to angle 3 (if kicking with the left leg) or angle 4 (if kicking with the right leg). Naturally, both kicks occur while both feet are off the ground.

Like many combination kicks, this may have limited practical application. Its primary purpose is to work on balance, coordination, landing, and target transitioning when using multiple kicks while jumping. And, in case you have not yet noticed, it is quite good at improving overall conditioning.

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