Sweeping techniques are a form of attack or counterattack aimed at moving the opponent's lower leg to cause a loss of balance. Usually a sweep is an initial move designed to break the opponent's posture to create an opening for a decisive punch or kick.
Sweeps have several uses:
- To completely break the opponent's balance and cause him/her to fall.
- To momentarily upset the opponent's balance, to create an opening for attack.
- To impede and control opponent's forward motion by deflecting or checking the stepping foot, which could be used to foil an attack as well as to set up a counter attack.
- To break the opponent's balance after catching the kicking leg.
- To prevent opponent from running away.
Sweeps should always be followed by another technique which takes advantage of the opponent's loss of balance. Sweeps are often done when the opponent is moving, just when the body weight is being transferred to the foot which is swept.
It is more common to sweep the opponent's front leg from the outside. It is possible to sweep the front leg from the inside, but this increases the probability of a counter attack because it starts the opponent's hips rotating forward. A successful sweep from the outside turns opponent's hips and torso the other direction, turning his back toward the sweeper.
To sweep the opponent's rear leg, it is best if he/she is in a high stance with weight on the rear leg. To sweep him it is necessary to get close enough to jam his front leg and hand, preventing any counterattack. As the sweep is applied, the opponent's upper body should be pulled in the opposite direction of the sweeping foot.
The follow up technique should come immediately after the opponent's balance has been upset or broken. For this to happen, it is necessary to recover and control one's own balance during the sweep, so that it is possible to stay away from the opponent's counter attack and set up an effective position for an attack, particularly proper distance and angle.
It is possible to incorporate throws from Judo and joint manipulating techniques from Aikido and Jujitsu in self defense situations. However, since Taekwondo stresses kicking and punching, it is characteristic to always deliver at least one kick or punch to break the opponent's posture before applying the throw, which is then followed with a finishing blow.
When leg sweeps are done properly they are very effective, not only because they effectively set up scoring techniques, but because of their demoralizing effective on the opponent.