Actual military use and inspiration for Taekwon-Do kicks?


White Belt
Jun 12, 2009
Reaction score
hi all,

so there's lots of great discussion on hwa-rang warriors, present-day tournament sports, the actual street combat value of kicking arts and the karate roots of taekwon-do. but one thing i really want to know is: what exactly was its initial relationship to actual combat in the korean and japanese armies?

what i've read so far is that funakoshi junior and shigeru egami trained kamikaze units on behalf of the government (and against the will of funakoshi senior) after ueshiba's aikido was rejected for being too complex and not aggressive enough, and that korean units in vietnam were dreaded because of their infight skills and deterrent brutalities. finally someone mentioned that the high kicking techniques developed during those WWII shotokan days and later in TKD, which didn't exist in karate before the 1940s, were developed simply to give a trooper wearing heavy backpack, boots and gun a means to kill an enemy too close or too dangerous to shoot at by hitting his head, neck or sternum with the feet.

so, can some people with real knowledge on military close combat please comment on this? what was really the combat equipment of a soldier trained in karate or taekwon-do?
is it realistic to kick with backpack and with gun in hand? or is just impossible to strike with the hands while wearing a backpack? has it been used, and how frequently - isn't it just really the absolute last resort? or is it just another theory and high kicks and low stances were introduced for training purposes only (as in leg/ core/ cardiovascular strength and heightened aggressiveness)?
and what changes for folk with different body proportions from east asians - is kicking with long legs unadvisable because of higher weight to be moved and hence more reaction time for the enemy, or does it just take some additional core training, after which the long range can even give an advantage?

again, obviously this is not about sports but only about kicking with an immediate kill or at least knock-out in mind, which i imagine may work well if a fast kick with a combat boot meets a head in a helmet. my own addition is that maybe they also had in mind to kick the enemy's gun out of his hands? anyway, i'm looking forward to any educated opinions.


Senior Master
Oct 10, 2004
Reaction score
First of all, welcome to MT!

I would hypothesize that high kicks were not used in the military because kicking in heavy boots while wearing a backpack would be difficult.


<center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR
MTS Alumni
Apr 9, 2004
Reaction score
Grand Prairie Texas
I can tell you they did not use high kicks in the military. It just was not combat efficent, some will tell you other wise but my Father was over there training and he was in the USMC so I tend to believe him.

Latest Discussions