Kicking 101: The Basics of Practical Kicking Techniques for Street Defense By:



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For several of my early years, I lived with my single mother in a poverty-stricken, gang-infested neighborhood. Fights would regularly break out on my block, sometimes right on our front lawn. However, kicking in a street fight wasn’t acceptable at that time. But we live in different times now.

Kicking: A New Era of Street Fighting

Back then, no self-respecting street thug would dare throw a kick in a one-on-one street fight. Mainly because, you know, “kicking was for girls.” That is, unless it was mob action, and a gang of dudes was kicking and stomping a person on the ground. Different rules of engagement, I guess.

Times have changed, though, and kicking in a street fight is no longer just for girls. Like many of my friends, I was born into a martial arts family, so kicking is in my blood. Let’s dive in and learn when, where, and how to throw practical kicks in any fight.

I’d Rather Be Punched than Kicked in the Face

Think about it. Legs are typically stronger than arms. That’s why there are “door kickers” and not “door punchers.” It’s actually surprising just how many people don’t even know how to ball their first correctly. Not to mention knowing how to deliver a solid punch without hurting their hands.

That said, it doesn’t take Ninja-level skills to deliver a steel toe or boot heel and cause major damage to a person.

Kicking Does Not Have to Be Above the Waist

High-kicks are for movies and professionals. Low kicks are for everyone else and dish out the pain.

Sure, professional MMA fighters KO people in the Octagon with a roundhouse kick to the head. But unless you are an expert kicker, I would keep the targets lower on the street. Besides, you can always kick a person in the face after they are doubled over.

Seriously, though, you have a greater chance of slipping and falling with high kicks. It’s also easier to kick harder by sinking your weight into it than it is with a rising head-level kick.

Here, you can see a young lady delivering a front kick to the groin. There are reasons why MMA fighters are given five minutes to recover after they catch a solid kick to the groin. A groin shot can completely change the outcome of a fight. At the very least, it can provide you with an opportunity to get away to safety.

Delivering a side stomp kick to the side of a knee can also take an aggressor out of the fight (as seen in the top photo). It does not take a lot to “pop, tear, or shatter” an attacker’s knee and keep them from getting back up. You can deliver a lot of force at this angle, and minimal flexibility is required. A guy that can’t stand can’t catch you to beat you up.

Using Sidekicks to Keep an Attacker at a Safe Distance

The sidekick is one kick that is in almost every martial arts system. The reason for that? Sidekicks work in a fight—and they hurt.

There are many variations of a sidekick:

  • Offensive sidekick
  • Defensive sidekick
  • Skipping sidekick
  • Fade-away sidekick
  • Side-snap kick
  • Side-thrust kick
  • Spinning sidekick
  • Jump sidekick
  • Stomp sidekick
  • And probably a couple of others that I can’t think of right now

I think you get the point. Or, in the case of a sidekick, make sure your attacker gets the heel.

Here, the kicker demonstrates a defensive sidekick, meaning that he is using his kicks to counter his attacker’s punch. Legs are “typically” longer than arms. So, he is able to use his waist-level kick to keep his attacker at a safe distance.

Throwing a Solid Sidekick

Once you “master” the basic sidekick, you can adjust it to any variations mentioned earlier.

Here, Nyah is in a general fighting stance. Her hands are up, and her weight is pretty evenly distributed. She has 40% of her weight on her front leg and 60% on her rear leg. Keep in mind that she is practicing proper form and setting up to throw a kick.

Nyah lifts her leg up to a kicking “chamber.” Her hands stay up, and she is keeping her weight centered. You should feel like you have a good balance in your chamber—not like you are about to fall over.

Here, she drives out her sidekick. She is throwing it at waist/chest level and keeping her weight forward so she can deliver a “stopping” level of force.

Leaning back with a sidekick was designed for point Tae-Kwon Do. It allowed them to keep their head back while outreaching their opponent. However, this can allow a rushing attacker to knock you backward.

Practice driving your weight forward and connecting with your heel while keeping balance. It is good to practice kicking slowly. Hold each position for a count of five seconds and enjoy the burn in your legs. Remember, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

Nyah returns to her kicking chamber. It’s extremely important to control the force and energy of your kick and maintain balance on one leg. Retracting your kick back to chamber is key. If not, your attacker will grab your leg, and you will fall or get taken down.

This is another reason low kicks are important. Low kicks are harder to catch and easier to retract back to chamber.

Here, Nyah returns to her fighting stance, guard up, and is ready to block or strike again.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Try doing this drill 25 times slow count, counting to five while holding each position. Then, 25 times kicking as fast as you can.

Repeat this drill three times on each side. 75 slow-count kicks and 75 fast kicks on each leg in total. Do this three times a week, and your sidekicks will get pretty good—quickly.

Good Kicking Takes Practice

Joining a martial arts school and receiving training from a good coach will always be the best method. However, sometimes it’s not an option. Maybe there isn’t a good school in your area. Or maybe there is, but the class schedule doesn’t match yours. Similarly, you might not be able to afford classes right now.

However, there are endless resources at your fingertips. Worst case scenario, do what millions of other people do—go to YouTube.

Here are a couple of options that will get you kicking like a killer in no time.

Solo training. Get a heavy bag, a self-standing water-kicking bag, or a BOB dummy, and start practicing kicks. Nobody can make you a good kicker but you.

Or, find a training buddy, go to Ebay, and order a set of focus mitts. Then, get outside, move around, and start kicking the mitts. This will train you to move and kick. Have fun, and don’t miss the pads.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. After you have thrown tens of thousands of kicks, it will all seem natural and become a part of your gross motor skills.

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