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A Simple, But Powerful Tool Most Attackers Won’t Expect

By Christopher Caile

It’s not flashy and it is often almost awkward in execution. It is also too often just ignored in practice. But the simple rear kick should be an important tool in anyone’s self-defense inventory.

A few weeks ago a retired NYC Police Officer, Frank Livoti, invited me to meet with him so he could explain some of the ideas and concepts behind a new self-defense system he helped develop. He and Trent Perri, who together developed the new system, demonstrated several techniques, including the use of the rear kick for
The first thing pointed out was the versatility of the rear kick. “It is useful for a variety of situations, against attackers from the rear. But just don’t think of the rear, ”Livoti said. “If an attacker grabs your arm, wrist, shoulder or is charging from the side, you can also pivot to execute the kick in that direction.”

Perri demonstrates the rear kick to a bag (simulated target) close behind him.

The first photo shows Perri just standing. To execute the kick Perri raises his knee and then kicks backward. If grabbed around the chest, for example, the kick could be to the opponent’s thigh or inner leg – areas of the anatomy that, if hit hard, can be very painful. Notice that the toes are down and the striking surface is the heel. The kick, as used here, can be performed with little or no forward movement of the upper body.

This kick is equally effective against a more distant grab with one or two hands from someone to the back or to the side, Livoti noted.  If the attacker grabs with his left hand on your shoulder from the side, for example, the reaction would be to pivot and then back kick into the opponent while leaning the head and trunk in the opposite direction. This removes the head as a target.

Livoti grabs Perri’s shoulder from the back and prepares to strike the head. Perri responds by glancing backward and then raising his knee and kicking backward (toes down). The kick arcs upward making it very difficult to block. Even if the attacker lowers his punching arm to attempt to block the kick, it will normally come up under the blocking arm to strike.

This type of rising back kick will be surprising to most attackers. If an attacker has grabbed your shoulder with one hand, their typical reaction will be just to let go. The defender is then already facing the right direction to make a hasty retreat.

Of course, the back kick is only one tool in a person’s arsenal of self-defense, but it is a surprisingly good one. To make it effective you should practice both with a partner and also by practicing the kick against a target. You can use a heavy bag or even better, practice kicking to the rear into a protective shield or two hand target held by a partner in practice.

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About the Author, Frank Livoti and Trent Perri:

Christopher Caile is the editor and founder of

Frank Livoti has been involved in the marital arts for over 20 years. He is a former NYC Police Officer with 15 years on patrol in the South Bronx. He effected over 500 arrests and had over 1000 assists during the course of his career including disarming assailants (guns, knives and clubs) on more than two dozen occasions in hand to hand combat. He now runs his own company providing Self Defense and Fitness programs to both companies and individuals on site. Frank can be reached at:

Trent Perri has been involved in the martial arts for over 35 years and has been an instructor for over 30 of those years. Mr. Perri first earned the rank of Black Belt in 1974 and holds the ranks of 2nd degree Black Belt in American Kenpo Karate and 5th degree Black Belt under Karate legend Joe Lewis. Since 1976 he has successfully run the American Olympic Karate Studio of Yonkers, NY. Trent Perri can be reacheded at  (914) 476-1400. He continues to teach full time, imbuing the next generation of martial artists with his unique knowledge and insight acquired over the course of a lifetime in the martial arts.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

back kick, Frank Livoti, Trent Perri, Genesis Diversified Services,, street self defense, karate kicks, rear kicks, rear rising kicks, kicks in karate kata

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