The side thrust kick is the signature Taekwondo kick. If you cannot perform a near perfect side thrust kick, you should not call yourself a Taekwondo black belt.
Side kicks are performed outward from the side of the body. Kicker's body is usually perpendicular to the target.
Side snap kick
The side snap kick is used by most styles of karate and was used in Taekwondo during its early Shotokan influenced years. Now, when it is seen in Taekwondo, it is usually because the kicker is performing a sloppy side thrust kick.
In a side snap kick:
- Knee. The kicking knee is lifted upward with the kicking foot directly under the knee or even pulled backward toward the other knee.
- Kicking foot. The kicking foot is held with the toes pulled backward, parallel to the floor, and the outer edge of the sole angled forward toward the target in a foot-sword shape.
- Shin. Shin chambers perpendicular to floor, kicks outward until it is parallel to floor, and retracts backward to perpendicular to floor.
- Striking surface. The striking surface is the outer edge of the sole, usually nearer the heel.
- Support foot. Support foot is perpendicular to the target with heel pointed 90 degrees toward the side.
- Action. The foot is snapped toward the target and quickly retracted. When sparring, kicking foot usually move first and it travels from floor straight to the target.
- Pros. Quick. Easy to perform. Easy to score to the middle section. Highly effective in self-defense when used against the opponent's knee. Upward movement lets it slip under an opponent's guard.
- Cons. Easy to jam. Easy to block. Cannot snap body mass into the kick. Not a powerful kick. May be observed in board breaking, but not many boards may be broken with the side snap kick as with the side thrust kick. Kick moves upward toward target, which makes it easy to block. Upward movement means it is easy for the kick to be stopped by the opponent's leg chamber. Upward movement means it may get snagged under opponent's kick and may result in a low blow.
Side thrust kick
The side thrust kick is the signature kick of Taekwondo. To be a good Taekwondo practitioner, you must have a perfect side thrust kick. The side thrust kick is uniquely different from the side snap kick that used in most other martial arts styles. The Taekwondo side thrust kick is the most powerful kick the human body may produce, since it uses the biggest muscles and more muscle groups than any other kick. I may be used both offensively and defensively.
In a side thrust kick:
- Knee. The kicking knee is lifted upward and backward toward the opposite shoulder with the kicking foot parallel with the knee.
- Kicking foot. The kicking foot is held with the toes pulled backward, perpendicular to the floor, heel upward, with the outer edge of the heel pushed toward the target.
- Shin. Shin chambers parallel to floor, kicks outward to parallel to floor, and retracts backward while perpendicular to floor.
- Striking surface. The striking surface is the outer, real edge of the heel.
- Support foot. Support foot is parallel with the target with heel pointing toward the target.
- Action. The knee move upward and backward first, and then is thrust toward the target, quickly retracting toward the opposite shoulder again. The foot only moves because it is attached to the knee.
Maintain a straight line through the body. This will put the mass of the body into the kick instead of just relying on the muscle power in the leg. Imagine delivering a side thrust kick to a brick wall when the hip and kicking leg are in line, but the body is not. Upon impact with the wall, the action force will rebound and the reaction force will travel back down the leg to the hip, and the hip will rotate the trunk and be absorbed since the leg is not aligned with the body. However, if the entire body, hip, and leg are held on the same line, all the forces will travel back and forth between the ground and the impacting foot, giving maximum power to the kick.
- Pros. Difficult to jam. Allows hip to snap body mass into the kick for maximum power. The side thrust kick can break more boards than any other kick. From the high chamber, it is easy to kick to high, middle, or low sections. Nearly impossible to block; must be evaded.
- Cons. Difficult to perform and perfect. Relatively easy to evade. Requires total commitment, so if opponent get inside the kick, kicker is vulnerable.
Side thrust kick tips:
- Chamber kicking knee toward opposite shoulder.
- Keep shin of kicking leg parallel to the floor.
- When you thrust your kicking foot forward, use your thigh muscles, not your knee muscles, to generate power.
- Push the knee and shin toward the target, not the foot. Since the foot is at the end of the shin, it will hit the target first.
- When you throw the kick, roll your hips over into the kick.
- Pull kicking knee back into a re-chamber, do not pull the kicking foot back, it will come back with the knee.
Other Side Kicks
- Side rising kick
- Jump side thrust kick
- Spin side thrustkick
- Jump-spin Side thrustkick
- Flying side thrust kick. This kick is also great for breaking boards. The key is to tuck in the non-kicking leg.
- 360 Jump-spin side thrust kick