High Kicks with No Warm-Up: The Right Body Alignment for Great Height
and Power in the Roundhouse Kicks
Kurtz, author of Stretching Scientifically and Secrets
This is the seventh installment of my column on training that appeared
in March 2000 issue of TaeKwonDo Times.
Read the previous installment here.
To throw powerful high roundhouse kicks you need to align your body as
1. The thigh of your kicking leg and your spine viewed from above lie
along one line (are in one plane).
2. Toes of your supporting foot point away from your targetthey
are at about 135° or more from the line formed by your kicking leg.
3. The line of sight from your eye to your target goes just in front
of the shoulder (right shoulder for the right kick, left shoulder for
the left kick), over your hip and extended kicking leg.
4. The arm on the same side as the kicking leg drops behind your back.
The arm on the side of the supporting leg protects your face.
5. The higher you kick, the higher you should chamber your kicking leg
(in other words, raise your flexed leg so its knee points at or above
your target) and the lower youshould drop your trunk. Your kicking leg
and your trunk are the two pans of a scale, balancing on your supporting
leg. The lower you lean your trunk, the higher you can raise your chambered
kicking leg. When beginning to learn the high roundhouse kick, you may
need to lean your trunk so low that your head is below your hips. With
practice you will reduce the amount of this lean.
Body alignment in the high roundhouse kick demonstrated
by Thomas Kurtz (on the left) and Mac Mierzejewski, author of Power
High Kick with No Warm-up! (on the right)
Now the details of movement:
While planting the supporting foot, move your whole body forward. When
you start the pivot on your supporting foot, throw your flexed leg and
its hip at the targetstraight at the target, not to the side. Chambering
by lifting the thigh to the side causes hip pain and possible inflammation.
The reasons are explained in the previous article on the side kick in
TaeKwonDo Times January 2000.
Chamber as if aiming higher than you need to for a given target. Either
an insufficiently high chamber or lowering the knee while the lower leg
is thrown at the target can cause pain at side of the knee.
At the highest point of your chamber start an inward rotation of the
thigh of your kicking leg. The inward rotation of the kicking leg in the
roundhouse kick is essential for transferring most of your force to the
targetwithout it your kick would be a mere glancing blowand
to spare your kneecap from getting sore. This inward rotation depends
on the outward rotation of the thigh of your supporting legthe more
outward you rotate your supporting leg (so your toes point at a wider
angle away from the target) the greater is the inward rotation of the
thigh of your kicking leg.
Is it safe for someone who has only read this description and watched
people kick, to go and practice the high roundhouse kick? No.
Before learning this kick you must master several other techniques that
are lead-up skills for the high roundhouse kick. The movement habits as
well as strength and muscular endurance acquired while drilling these
lead-up skills will make learning the roundhouse kick easy and protect
you from injuries. Here is the sequence of these skills:
1. Straight punchto acquire the habit of rotating and counterrotating
hips and shoulders. Also, people who have not mastered straight punches
put their arms in weird positions during the roundhouse kick.
2. High front knee kickto develop the habit of high chamber and
putting the hip into the kick.
3. Groin kick (kin geri in karate)teaches flicking the
lower leg without overextending its knee and returning the foot back so
the heel contacts the buttock. All this happens without lowering the knee
below its chambered position.
4. Front thrust kickto acquire the habit of throwing the hip toward
the target and rotating and counterrotating hips and shoulders with arms.
5. Side thrust kickto acquire the habit of turning the supporting
foot away from the target, committing the hip into the kick in a greater
measure than in the front kick, plus leaning the trunk away from the target
while the whole body moves toward it. It also reinforces the habit of
These skills should be taught in the sequence given above. Each skill
should be mastered to the point of being stable and reliable in contact
sparring (except the groin kick, of course, which is forbidden in any
kind of sparring), even under great fatigue, before the next skill is
Leg raises to the front and back may be practiced right from the beginning
of one's training to increase range of motion in the movements making
up the high roundhouse kick. The leg raise to the side, which was described
in a previous article of this column in TaeKwonDo Times January
2000, helps in finding the position of the hip joint that permits greater
side mobility while keeping the trunk high enough for instantaneously
regaining the upright position you need for punching.
Now you know how to align your body for great height and power in the
roundhouse kick without having to reach the limits of the range of motion
in your hip joints. To throw high roundhouse kicks without any warm-up,
you have to develop your dynamic flexibility (see
the fifth article of this column) and master the lead-up skills prior
to practicing the roundhouse kick.
Kurtz, T. 1994. Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility
Training. Island Pond, VT: Stadion Publishing Co. Inc.
Mierzejewski, M. 1996. Power High Kicks with No Warm-Up!
Island Pond, VT: Stadion Publishing Co. Inc.