Karate front kick

Karate front kick DEFAULT

The Front Kick: How to Do It, When to Use It

For taekwondo fighters, it's a scoring technique used to impart “trembling shock" against an opponent's chest protector. For muay Thai stylists, it's a defensive technique effected by shoving against an opponent's abdomen. For karate stylists, it's a stunning technique aimed at an opponent's solar plexus.

It is perhaps the most basic martial arts technique of all, the front kick. In one form or another, it's a component of almost every system. Often the first kick introduced to novice students, it doesn't require exceptional balance or flexibility. Yet when executed with sharp, focused power, it quickly realizes its full potential.

Snap Kick

Front kicks can be divided into two main types: the front snap kick and the front thrust kick. The snap kick is faster. It's performed by lifting the knee and snapping the lower leg into the target. Power is generated primarily from the sharp extension of the leg and the speed with which the lower leg shoots into the target.

The front snap kick doesn't involve the hips as much as the front thrust kick does. As a result, kickers don't have to compromise their balance by shifting their center of gravity. This means they can quickly step in with a follow-up technique or retract the leg to its original position.

Thrust Kick

The front thrust kick is the more powerful of the two variations. It uses not only the snap of the lower leg but also the drive and follow-through of the hips. As with the front snap kick, the knee is brought up quickly. But to recruit more power, the knee lift is preceded by a thrust of the hips. This motion brings the largest muscles of the body into play, and instead of producing a snapping impact, it generates penetrating, disabling force.

With either version, the point of contact is usually the ball of the foot, although there are exceptions. Some systems such as uechi-ryu use the toes instead of the ball. Naturally, this demands an extraordinary level of conditioning, but because the contact point is smaller, the kick imparts a sharper, stabbing pain.

The heel and instep also can be employed, with the heel most often used for thrusting kicks and the instep for groin kicks wherein the foot travels upward to strike the genitals. For the most part, however, the ball of the foot is preferred, particularly when bare feet are involved.

Rear Leg

The front kick can be delivered from the front or rear leg. Kicking with the rear leg is more common and more comfortable for most practitioners. The rear-leg front kick is a natural motion; it's easier for kickers to shift their balance and put their weight behind the kick. The rear-leg kick, especially from a relatively deep stance, often enables kickers to crash right through an opponent's block.

Some people produce even more power by altering the kick's angle. Rather than chambering the knee directly to the front, they cock it slightly to the side. As the knee is lifted, the supporting foot pivots and the lower leg shoots into the target at a 20-degree angle. This variation should not be confused with the 45-degree roundhouse kick that many taekwondo competitors use. Although the angle appears similar, the contact area for the angled front kick remains the ball of the foot and not the instep.

Lead Leg

The lead-leg front kick is quicker but considerably less powerful than its rear-leg counterpart. Its main use in self-defense is as a stunning setup technique that off-balances an adversary and paves the way for heavier blows. It's also used in free sparring primarily as a range-finder and setup technique.

Competitive taekwondo fighters use a variation of the lead-leg kick as a stop-kick to keep an opponent from advancing. Because the opponent is wearing a body protector, penetration is not the objective; freezing a foe in his tracks is the main concern.

Thai stylists also use a similar front-leg kick to probe an opponent's defenses or push him away. An apt analogy for the lead- and rear-leg front kicks likens their form and function to the jab and rear cross of boxing, with one setting up an opponent and the other finishing him off.

Target Height

Despite the prevalence of high front kicks in forms competition, the best targets are the solar plexus and ribs. The head isn't a feasible target for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the trajectory of the kick itself. The path for a well-executed kick goes straight ahead, not upward. And an opponent's body is in front of the kicker — not suspended above him.

Therefore, it's incumbent on kickers to kick into their target. This is perhaps the most common mistake practitioners make. Instead of trying to nail a small, mobile and well-guarded target such as the head, practitioners should attack the opponent's body. Inevitably, there are exceptions to this strategy — kicking to the throat or under the armpit after controlling the arm, for example. Nevertheless, the front kick is designed to fold an opponent's body, not knock his head off.

(Read Part 2 here.)

Photo by Rick Hustead

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Karate Classes A Great Karate Front Kick in 5 Easy Steps

One of the main kicks in karate, is mae geri (front kick), it is the first karate kick a person entering the world of karate will study and there are many variations of the karate front kick.

In this article we are going to cover the version that is practiced in shotokan


When learning new karate moves, it is recommended that they are practiced in easily managed sections, so I have sectioned the tutorial below, so as any one of the sections can be practiced independently of the others.

Front Snap Kick (Mae Geri Keage)

1. Starting from the feet together stance (Heisoku-dachi), lift the knee high, keeping the ankle bent (90 degrees) and the toes curled back, so the ball of the foot is pointing directly forward.

2. Extend the kick to the target, keeping the supporting foot flat and toes facing forward. As the kicking leg travels forward, push into the floor with the supporting leg, then using that push, drive the hips forward (keeping them square), try not to over extend with the hips.

3. Ensure the kick drives into the target and not up in front of the target. This basic front kick wants to travel straight, like a bullet and not in an upward arching movement.

4. As the foot reaches the target, the ankle goes from a 90 degree bend to straight. The foot points forward with the toes curled back, making sure the ball of the foot hits the target.

5. At full extension the kicking leg should snap back vigorously while keeping the knee high; this technique, if done correctly, should release a shock effect into the target.

When you first start karate it is important to spend time on the basic techniques, you should also take karate classes at a good dojo (training hall), with a fully qualified karate sensei (teacher).

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This page will help you learn a variety of basic Karate kicks such as Mawashi Geri (roundhouse kick) and Ushiro Geri (back kick). It also lists the Japanese names for these Karate kicking techniques. These kicks are used for kata, self-defense, kumite (sparring), demonstrations, etc. For all Karate kicks, please check with your instructor because techniques and names of kicks can vary from one Karate style to another.

You should also visit Black Belt Wiki’s main Martial Arts Kicking Techniques section to see how these kicks are done by other martial arts styles (i.e. Muay Thai and Taekwondo). That section contains a greater variety of advanced martial arts kicks (i.e. Butterfly Kick) that you can learn in order to increase your overall martial arts knowledge.

These pages are meant to reinforce and supplement what you have learned in your Karate classes. To properly understand these techniques, you need to learn them from a Karate instructor who can give an in-depth explanation of the technique, correct your mistakes and detail how the technique should be utilized. Moreover, be aware that there are a variety of Karate schools and associations so you might learn variations to these techniques. Martial arts techniques should be only practiced under the supervision of a trained martial arts instructor.

Karate Kicking Techniques – Click on the kicks below for videos, instructions, etc.



Shotokan Karate Kick -Mawashi Geri (Roundhouse Kick)

Shotokan Karate – Intermediate-Level Kicks

Karate Kicks

Karate Kicks

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Front kick

Martial arts technique

The front kick in martial arts is a kick executed by lifting the knee straight forward, while keeping the foot and shin either hanging freely or pulled to the hip, and then straightening the leg in front of the practitioner and striking the target area. It is desirable to retract the leg immediately after delivering the kick, to avoid the opponent trying to grapple the leg and (unless a combination is in process) to return to stable fighting stance.

The front kick described is the typical basic front kick of karate or taekwondo. But the front kick can also be defined more broadly as a straight forward kick directly to the front, and then include several variations from many different styles. A front kick can be delivered forward in a penetrating way (hip thrust), or upwards to attack the head.

Details of the technique[edit]

In martial arts implying either barefooted combat or very light footwear, the strike is usually delivered by using ball of the foot (while pointing the foot toward the target area and keeping toes up to prevent injury) or by heel. When heavier footwear is used, there is an option using whole sole as a striking surface. It is also possible to kick with the top of the foot (the instep) in cases of striking at the groin or under the arm which can be very damaging.

Using ball of a foot is preferred in karate. This method demands more control of one's movement, but allows for narrow, penetrating strike. Taekwondo practitioners utilise both heel and ball of the foot for striking. It is common to perform tempering exercises to strengthen ball of the foot, as many new practitioners are unable to exercise full-power front kicks on training gear, such as body bag.

With specific techniques and in certain styles, the impact point of the front kick can be more exotic. Certain Japanese styles have a front kick generally used as a stop-kick where the blade of the foot is used to connect, like for a side kick (the foot blade front kick). The heel is often used straight (mae kakato geri) or with the foot tilted (tilted heel front kick), especially in stop-kicks, close kicks or high front kicks. Japanese nin-jitsu has variations using the straightened and hardened toes. Front kicks to the groin ({{transl|ko|kin geri) like the lift kick or the upward front kick (mae geri keage), use the top of the foot. The phantom groin kick uses the whole of the inside of the foot to connect very effectively. Stop kicks often use the whole plant of the foot to push away the opponent.[1]

Various combat systems teach 'general' front kick using heel or whole foot when footwear is on. For example, martial art systems employed by military assume that a fighter wears heavy footwear, is generally less mobile than typically assumed in competition martial arts, and may have his/hers leg muscles severely fatigued. Properly executing fast 'snap' front kick while controlling one's foot direction may be difficult in said conditions. Less technically demanding kick utilizing sole of heavy footwear as a striking surface is easier to execute.

The front kick is typically performed with the straight and balanced upper body, but it allows for variety in motion of hips and body overall. Martial arts systems exploit this ability in different fashions. For example, a karateka may perform mae geri while standing upright, or lean somewhat back during the attack, intending to increase the reach of the kick. If a simple 'kick-punch' combination is executed, this slight lean allows for more momentum placed into the movement of upper body, thus the karateka will end with a more powerful body movement behind the punch. The opposite situation is exploited in some variations of Wing Chun, where stiff forward motion of both hands blocking/striking in upper area could be accompanied with a slight leaning forward and simultaneous front kick into groin/thigh, etc. Hips movement may be used to increase the reach and to thrust one's leg into the target, resulting in more powerful strike (a common practice in taekwondo and some styles of karate).

Applications and counters[edit]

Front kicks are typically aimed at targets below the chest: stomach, thighs, groin, knees or lower. Highly skilled martial artists are often capable of striking head-level targets with front kick (albeit rarely use it this way). The front kick is fast and involves little body motion betraying the technique's nature prior to execution. This makes a well-developed front kick an excellent asset in both offence and defense.

When defending, front kick could be used to severely damage the lower area of the opponent who has started an attack, but has overconcentrated on guarding head/upper body, and as a good tool to keep enemy from punch range. In offense, front kick could serve as an excellent opener for combination attacks, as it is fast, dangerous enough for opponent to switch attention to block/deflecting/evading the kick, but requires little deviation from the upright fighting stance, which is good to start punch attack from. Overall, there is a wide variety of situations where this kick could be exploited by a creative martial arts practitioner.

Common ways to counter a front kick are deflecting it with hand, shin, etc., stepping away/sideways, or, given the kick is visibly pointed into abdomen/thighs area, shifting a body so it passes along. The last method is somewhat risky, as it relies heavily on defender's agility, with a front kick being one of the fastest kicks possible. More exotic techniques of countering front kicks exist, like one incorporated in Wado ryu kihon kumite (referred to as yakusoku, or prearranged, kumite, in some schools). Said technique involves simultaneously pushing opponents leg away from one's centerline and attacking the leg with a downward elbow strike into the hip. However, this method is not recommended to beginners and as a general purpose one.

Also, although well-executed front kick is very fast, a careless execution presents an opponent with excellent opportunity for grappling, which could be disastrous for an attacker. Once the leg is grappled, a variety of attacks is available to a defender, such as wrestling techniques resulting in pain compliance hold, immediate counterattack with punches, throws, kicks into lower area and combinations of all above. For this reason, 'recocking' the leg after the kick is truly important, especially in real-life situations, where rules common to many competition martial arts do not apply. However, executing front kicks to the waist and below is relatively safe and effective, given the leg is immediately retracted.

In Tae Kwon Do[edit]

In taekwondo, the front kick bears the name ap chagi. It is distinct from the push kick (mireo chagi) in that the power should be delivered instantaneously. Since the leg moves forward while the shin and foot naturally swing upwards, the easiest application of this kick is that of directing one's energy upwards, perhaps considering it a "kick to the groin". However, one can deliver massive force forward with this kick as well, which is considered its main application by most instructors. Directed forward, this is actually one of the most powerful kicks in Taekwondo, and it is quite often used in exhibitions and board-breaking competitions where power is demonstrated.

In order to not injure ones toes while executing this kick, it is usually delivered through the front base of the foot (ap chook), if not with the flat upper side of the foot (bal deung). If performed with the bare foot then the ball of the foot is used on impact with the toes drawn up to prevent injury. To strike with ap chook one has to raise one's toes so that their tips will not be the first contact point. Even when directed forward, this is not a kick where the first contact point should be the base of the heel, as is considered beneficial in some other martial arts having a similar kick. In Taekwondo, one would strike forward with the ankle extended, so that the upper side of the foot forms a straight line with the shin, and with the toes bent back (pointing up). In other words, an "ap chook ap chagi". Having the foot in any other position when directing this kick strictly forward would be considered highly unorthodox, and is a common error among beginners.

In addition to being a kick in itself, the front kick is an exercise used by many instructors to teach the principle of lifting ones knee before the rest of the kick commences, something which is considered important in taekwondo, where it is somewhat literally translated from the Koreanap chagi (앞차기), (and many kicking arts with the notable exception of capoeira). In competition fights (known as "sparring" or "kyorugi") this kick sees little actual use, except possibly as a component in an improvised kick which is perhaps intended as an "an chagi" or "naeryo chagi".

It is common to slightly bend the knee of the leg one is standing on when executing this kick, and pointing the foot one is standing on somewhat outwards. As in all taekwondo kicks, one will also try to get ones "hip into the kick", resulting perhaps in a slight shift of weight forward. In any case, this is a linear kick, and as such one that one can get ones weight behind.

There exist countless variations of this kick, and it can be used along with other kicks without one having to put ones kicking foot down in between kicks. A very common variation is "ttwimyeo ap chagi", a flying front kick which can reach an impressive height.

Some instructors refer to this kick as the "flash kick". This is in tune with the line of thought which seems prevalent in the various taekwondo forms, where the ap chagi is used very extensively in combination with relatively short range hand strikes and blocks, mimicking situations in which it would have to be performed quite quickly.


The front kick, called mae geri in Japanese, is certainly the main kick in traditional karate of all styles. It is the most used kick in traditional kata forms and the most practiced kick in traditional ki-hon practice. The kick is a very strong and fast strike, and easier to master than less “natural” kicks. The kick generally connects with the ball of the foot, under the toes, but other points of impact are sometimes used in the many variants existing in Japanese karate and other styles. It can be thrusting (kekomi) or snapping (keage), or somewhere in between. In its thrusting or kekomi form the kicker pushes the foot into the target powerfully leveraging the momentum of his own body weight in order to propel the opponent or target backwards. In its snapping or keage form the kicker emphasizes the extremely quick retraction or recoil or re-chamber of the foot and the lower leg immediately after impact (thereby making it difficult to catch or grab the leg by the opponent); The keage kick exhibits less pushing force but more breaking impact than the kekomi form of the kick. It can be delivered with hopping (surikonde) or jumping (tobikonde), and sometimes with a straight leg all-the-way (mae keage). It can be executed with the front leg, defensively or hopping forward, or the rear leg. It can be executed with nearly square hips, or with hips lined sideways like the yoko geri of Wado-ryu Karate. There are many other variations, as the kick can also be feinted, angled or delivered from the ground.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^De Bremaeker, M. et al., The Essential Book of Martial Arts Kicks: 89 Kicks from Karate, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, and others (Tuttle Publishing, 2010), p. 23. ISBN 0-8048-4122-5
  2. ^De Bremaeker, M. et al., The Essential Book of Martial Arts Kicks: 89 Kicks from Karate, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, and others (Tuttle Publishing, 2010), p. 25. ISBN 0-8048-4122-5


  • Scott Shaw (2006). Advanced Taekwondo. Tuttle Publishing. p. 45. ISBN .
  • Woo Jin Jung (1999). Freestyle Sparring. Jennifer Lawler. p. 22. ISBN .
  • De Bremaeker, M.; et al. (2010). The Essential Book of Martial Arts Kicks: 89 Kicks from Karate, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, and others. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 11–57. ISBN .
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Kick karate front

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Advanced karate techniques - Shotokan How to Defend Against a Front Kick and Round Kick

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