The ball of the foot is a lot stronger than I gave it credit for

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by skribs, Mar 22, 2019.

  1. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    When I did Taekwondo as a kid, I learned the parts of your foot you use for various kicks. It went something like this:
    • Ball of the foot - front kick
    • Heel - side kick, ax kick, back kick, spinning heel kick
    • Blade of the foot - side kick, crescent kick (inside-outside), back kick
    • Ridge of the foot - crescent kick (outside-inside)
    • Instep - roundhouse kick
    However, I'm starting to learn the power of the ball of the foot. My Master at my current school has corrected me several times on different kicks that I should be using the ball of my foot. This has led to me successfully breaking boards that I was failing to with my old training. Kicks I now do with the ball of the foot are:
    • Axe kick
    • Outside-inside crescent kick (still do inside-outside with the blade or heel)
    • Hook kick
    I haven't applied it to the roundhouse kick like I've seen some suggest, as I think it's too easy to catch your toes that way. I also haven't applied it to side kick or back kick (on purpose) because I feel the heel is more inline with the donkey-style kicks. However, I've noticed that using the ball of the foot I have more reach and more strength.

    I think the reason I used to treat the ball of the foot as weaker, is because of side kick and back kick. In those kicks, the heel has the best line with your power direction. (That's also why I think some people prefer to front snap kick with the heel). This is also the case with the front push kick.

    However, the heel isn't any more in-line with an ax kick or spinning hook kick than the heel is. It's essentially a longer piece of the whip. You're still striking with a bone, and a bone that's designed to be stood on. You're still striking with the same motion, just using a different part of your foot.

    I used to think the ball of the foot was the equivalent of a slap, but now I've come to think of it more like a punch. I've grown a much healthier respect for this part of the foot lately.
     
  2. skyeisonfire

    skyeisonfire Green Belt

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    As long as yor stretch is good and you can point those toes back to fully extend your leg then you can use the heel in most kicks. I prefer to use my heels and I believe it reduces accidental toe jamming as well. My .02 cents.
     
  3. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    For an axe kick or hook kick? You would have to REALLY mess those up to jam your toes.
     
  4. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    It would be quite impossible to jam your toes with those kicks.
    On the other hand, you're not going to jam your toes in shoes, either. Training with the ball of the foot is to prevent toe injury while barefoot. You're extremely unlikely to be fighting barefoot, but if you are, your foot will automatically protect your toes (muscle memory, you know...). If you're in shoes, the shoe will protect your toes.
    The extra reach from kicking toes/ball of the foot is absolutely worth it. Training front kicks with the heel is, I would say, generally a mistake.
    As far as the roundhouse goes... the top of the foot is for sparring. The ball of the foot is for breaking.
    Spinning hook kick is much the same. The ball of the foot is for sparring (and heavy bag work) and the heel is for fighting or breaking.
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I've had more success breaking with the spinning hook kick with the ball of the foot. The heel has actually proved weaker to me, because I've got a smaller lever arm. There is no real advantage to using the heel in that circumstance.
     
  6. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I was thinking recently about how our kicks would change if we trained with our shoes on.

    And not the TKD shoes, either, but actual shoes.
     
  7. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I am not going to enter the argument too far. But think long and hard about this; When doing kicks with the heel the ankle joint is mostly or completely taken out of the equation making a more solid striking member. When kicking with the ball or toes you have the added reach of the length or your foot but the ankle is in play and will usually cushion some of the impact. If you are successfully doing more breaks with the ball of the foot it is either kick selection or something weird is going on.
     
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  8. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    You need to work on your technique.

    Training in shoes is a good idea.
     
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  9. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Agree with both your comments.
     
  10. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    When you used the ball of your foot for front kick, did your opponent even use back fist to hit on your toes (since your toes were bending back)? I have seen some serious toes broken in class that way with bare foot training.
     
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  11. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    When you front kick with the ball of your foot, the downward block at 0.20, 0.27, 0.32 can hit on your bending backward toes if you don't have shoes on.

     
  12. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    You have to time it. Or yeah toe death.
     
  13. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    You touch someone with the heel and you will mess them up.

    I don't do breaking though. I just belt people.
     
  14. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Provided you don't kick with shoes and fall over. The difference isn't significant.

    So mabye you could say that you get an extra inch with a pointy toe. But you loose out on timing if you haven't been throwing pointy toe kicks.
     
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  15. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    You disagree with this, @skribs?
    Sp you think your technique is perfect?

    I assure you it's not. If the tiny difference in length makes that much difference, your technique can definitely be improved.
    But what do I know. I've only been doing TKD for 50 years.
     
  16. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Sorry, I was on my phone and preferred to type my response on my computer.

    The reason I disagreed with it is twofold: 1) you presented a different position from mine without explaining why, 2) you did not offer any actual advice.

    1) The debate

    I have presented in this thread the reasons why I think the ball of the foot is stronger:
    1. I've seen it succeed where the heel has failed
    2. My Master says it's better
    3. The technique I've practiced for years was replaced by this and this was more successful without that extra practice
    4. I see no scientific reason why the heel would be stronger than the ball of the foot
    In fact, regarding #3, this would suggest I am working on my technique, because I got critique and applied the critique. I'm not saying my technique is perfect. I'm saying "you need to work on your technique" does not seem like a valid reason why the heel is superior or preferable to the ball of the foot.

    2) The advice

    Your advice was simply "you need to work on your technique." There was no areas I may be going wrong, there was no how I can improve my technique. Nothing along the lines of "the heel is stronger if you do X", or "it sounds like you're not doing Y, have you tried that?"

    So instead of coming across as sage advice, it comes across as pretentious.

    So I ask you: back it up. Why is the heel better than the ball of the foot? In what situations would the heel have an advantage? And if my technique is the problem, what specifically should I look at fixing?

    If you can convince me that I'm wrong I'll be happy to take down my disagrees. But as it stands all you've done is put my technique down.
     
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  17. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I don't think the difference in timing is going to be that noticeable.
     
  18. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Between doing a kick you have practiced and one you haven't?
     
  19. skyeisonfire

    skyeisonfire Green Belt

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    I don't use those kicks anyways. Lol
     
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  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    You have seen or done this successfully?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
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