High Karate kicks

Posted by: BrianS

High Karate kicks - 10/01/07 11:05 PM

Does your style teach or do high kicks?

What about spinning kicks? Jump kicks? Flying kicks?

We generally do not kick about the soloplex, but there are a couple of exceptions.

I have noticed that karate kicks vary from style to style. Some karate styles almost look tae kwon dish.

Personally, I can and do kick high when the time comes, but my style doesn't call for it much.

What are your thoughts on high kicks in karate? Should we leave it to the tae kwee dooers?
Posted by: Unyu

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 12:10 AM

Matsumura Seito Shorin Ryu does not teach kicking above the torso. The style of Shorinkan I did in my youth taught every kick there is, but emphasized low kicks for the street. I feel you should be able to do any and everything possible, never limiting your muscle memory options.

I think TKD got their high kicks from karate and chuan fa, not the other way around.

Being able to kick high with balance, speed and power takes many months of hard training. If you learn how to kick high when you are in your teens or before you'll probably be able to pull off the kicks with more reflexivity in your adult years.

My Seito sensei use to tell us that kicks to the head were common in the karate he was teaching us, but only when the head is brought down to the torso level or below.

Kicking high will increase the length of contraction and extension in the leg muscles and connective tissues, making your low kicks faster and more powerful. That's what I've noticed, plus that is what the science tells us. Low is the safer route though.

Okinawan Karate emphasizes hands for a reason. Leaving your feet leaves a weaker base, so it does make a lot of sense to punch first and kick only if needed.

Being adept with your legs is a great thing. It can't hurt unless you become reliant on the fact that you can kick well. Kicks are secondary most of the time and fists or palm strikes are smarter for most confrontations.

Spinning kicks are good at times too, as are jump kicks. If you are good at them they can really make your style of fighting unpredictable. Keeping the spin kicks at the solar plexus level or lower is a safer approach. Jump kicks are good entries to a takedown or flying submission technique. They are risky but can offer a tactical advantage if you know what you're doing. Both types of kicks require many hours of training for natural muscle memory response.

Learn it all. It probably won't hurt you if you're smart and conservative with the kicks, but the techs might wind up being injurious to your opponent .

Train diligently; use sparingly...
Posted by: Prizewriter

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 05:51 AM

Did TKD for a while, and have only ever had a handful of Shotokan classes, so I am not the most qualified person to speak on this matter.

I did however read an excellent book by Master Kiew Kit Wong about Southern Shaolin. In the book, he described the various kicks used by the students of Southern Shaolin. There were no high kicks.

He said in the book that in Shaolin the realized a long time ago that high kicks left you off balance and weakened. They devised a series of Jumping Kicks so that if they ever had to hit a high target they could do so without loosing balance, as both feet were off the ground.

Southern Chinese martial arts influenced Okinawan Te, so it may be that the same logic follows re kicks??

TKD was also influenced by another art called Tae Kyon:


Here is a little clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxXS94Qrpkw

High kicking in Tae Kyon, one of the few indigenous Korean Martial arts we know about, was common. It seems to have been a demonstration of high martial skill back in the Old Kingdoms of Korea.
Posted by: MattJ

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 07:43 AM

AKK does have a few high(ish) and spinning kicks. They are taught in the intermediate/advanced stages of the art. My particular AKK school did a bit more work with them than most, since my instructor was also a black belt in TKD and Hapkido.

I have had quite a few people tell me I fight more like a TKD guy than a Kenpo guy, until we get in close. Then they tell me I fight like a Wing Chun guy.
Posted by: Dobbersky

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 08:21 AM

From my Karate training

Tang Soo Do (Korean Karate) had many High kicks and Jumping Kicks etc

Ashihara has loads of Mawashi Geris jumping and spinning Kicks, I think to look attractive to the American TKD market etc. but as with every style the kata CAN be adapted to allow other types of kicks etc.

I suppose Jumping Spinning kicks are ok for 5foot 7inch 10 stone karateka but when you get to 17 stone plus it gets a bit awkward to do lol
Posted by: RazorFoot

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 08:33 AM

Of the few traditional Japanese styles I have seen personally or been exposed to through training or seminars, Ashihara, Kyokushin, Seido, and Wado Ryu all have high kicks but I am not sure how frequently or when they are used.

I have seen Wado Ryu high kicks work well. I have been on the receiving end of Ashihara high kicks too and they have also worked well. Now at the time, I was sparring so leg trapping and submissions weren't an option. I could not have done it on the Ashihahra kick any way. Never saw it coming till it was on my head/neck.

Bottom line is, someone with good flex, good timing, good footwork, good hand techniques, and a few good feints will catch you with that high kick. And yes, there are a few of them out there. Possibly more than you realize. Train the leg trap and take down off the kick. You will need it because someone will through it.

Posted by: Neko456

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 09:48 AM

The 3 to 5 Chinese, Tang-soo-do & Karate systems (I've studied) stress different things the Tang-soo-do system stressed kicking and that the object was to have the strongest (the leg) part of the body make contact with the weakest (the head). High and mid-torso kicks were used along with sweeps and throws, hands were used when the range permitted. I didn't hear or see much talk of using different technique on the street, maybe use more hands then KO with a kick. There was some talk or training on low line kicks for SD but not much. The kick and even high kicks were trained as the primary weapon, really not so much in TSD L70%-h30%.

The Okinawan systems taught to close distance, the kick high or low was a weapon that could do that and strike. The Shaolin and Shorin systems taught high kicks as a KO-ing technique when the element of surprise was present. They'd also kicked/fient high when the real intead target was low. Kicks could be at any level they were used to strike, sweep, imbalance and break (in the Korean art less low kicks to the leg or sweeps were encourage because it tharted high kicks). The jumping, spining and head kick was just part of the cirriculum, and a good head kick was one that landed effectively. The kick was trained almost much as the hands. H60%-L40%

In Okinawan Goju/Wing-Chun/S. Praying Mantis/Silat (I threw in bc its similar)kicks were taught not to go above the mid torso, the object was close distance while striking and then strike with hands or elbow, grab, knee and sweep,throw, & stomp. The kick was a 2ndary but respected as the most powerful weapon. But the above waist weapons were stressed. Head,Spining, & Jumping kicks were taught but not stress hardly any. But could be developed by the pupil but were not stressed, a good head kick was taught to be performed as the opponent was falling, bend over or had spun around exposing his blindsided. With the back exposed it was still stressed to kick the lower spine to bend the body, and then attack the head or knee joints. These arts (Shaolin&Shorin does too but to a lessor degree) also taught leg blocking kicks then returning with a kick to the groin or lower in a flowing move. H75%-L25%.

High, Spining and jump kicks add to your flexibilty and deception of range, which is important when young as you get older it becomes less important, unless really open.
How do you cover distance when your'e older, you simply step toward them, slower but with less enegry lost.

My 2 cent. Back in the day, things have changed nowdays.
Posted by: Usenthemighty

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 01:26 PM

Yea my style if Shotokan Karate teaches high kicks. To be done in combinations of course. I personally believe it is fine to do high kicks in real situations as long as you have practiced and spared with it enough. By enough I literally mean 1000s of times. Example, I myself would practice doing 20 front, side, roundhouse, hook, and knee strikes each leg everyday. That would equal a 800 kicks a week plus stretching not to mention sparing at all ranges. High kicks are effective ,but it needs to be practiced at a great deal to be used effectively as anything. The same for spin and jump kicks, but only the most basic kind where all you do is turn around and kick or jump.
Posted by: RazorFoot

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 02:33 PM

Unless I am jumping to dodge something, at least one foot always stays planted on the ground. I will never through a jump kick in a fight. Benny Urquidez is a huge hero of mine but even that jump spinning back he got his nickname from scared me. I always thought he was going to miss and get clocked but he rarely if ever missed it and he never got clocked because of it. But make no mistake, I AIN'T HIM, lol.

Posted by: butterfly

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/02/07 04:03 PM


I can do them, sans the jumping spinning kind anymore. Are they usable and all that? Probably not. Can they be made to work? You betcha. It also depends on how you are kicking as well....not all high kicks are the same.

Unsu said it best in his post.
Posted by: Ironfoot

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/05/07 09:59 AM

When I was a young man I had a wicked double front kick (mae tobi geri), but now the only high kick is a roundhouse that starts out like a front snap kick, because they're not expecting it from an older guy like me. And I only throw reverse kicks occasionally at kyus just to show them what is possible.
Posted by: bo-ken

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/06/07 10:23 AM

I teach high and jumping kicks. I think that high round kicks can be extremely effective but they do take practice. Mostly it depends on the student I teach them to kick any level and they find what works best for them. We allow throws and sweeps in most of our sparring so you only high if you know you can do it. I still think that a front kick to the gut works best.
Posted by: underdog

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/06/07 10:29 AM

In the olden days when I did TKD, there was a lot of emphasis on getting a variety of higher and jumping kicks. I liked doing them for conditioning. I never thought they were practical for any real fighting. I think they found their way into the repertoire because younger students, say in the 8-20 age range, will find them anyway and want to do them just because they are there. They are fun and take a lot of energy.

Now I seldom kick higher than the ribs. I use them also for the surprise value. People expect me to kick to the legs, and I do that often. I hand strike to the head, for me, is just faster and far more accurate, and in the practice setting, safer. God help the person I actually land a head kick to.
Posted by: fastfist1

Re: High Karate kicks - 10/06/07 05:33 PM

This is a subject that, for me, is always fun to talk about. Now that I'm in my mid 40's, with 26 years of study, I have been able to truly embrace my base Okinawan style's strategy of closing distance and keeping kicks at waist level or below. While I still kick to the head while sparring or kickboxing, when I'm really working on self defense (aka kata bukai) all kicks are low.

When I close the distance with my opponent, the need for and practical use of high kicks is eliminated (especially since my knees no longer react well to jump and/or spinning techniques). The exciting thing is that when you stop looking up for a target (i.e. head) and look from the pelvis down, you find targets that are especially debilitating to your opponent. Additionally, by staying in close I find that my opponents ability to kick high on me (spinning or otherwise) is greatly reduced unless the person is an exceptionally gifted fighter.