Different Kind of Sidekick

Gwai Lo Dan

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I am really start to feel my training has been myopic...I never thought of trying to kick a sidekick with the ball of the foot.

I like watching Gabriel Varga since is advanced in TMA (4th dan in Shotokan), but competed in Bellator kickboxing. It opens my eyes a bit.

 

J. Pickard

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I am really start to feel my training has been myopic
You and the majority of Style specific traditional martial artists. One thing I try to keep in mind is every tool has a purpose but not every purpose is for every tool. There is a drastic difference in the anatomy of these two kicks. The "karate" style side kick utilizes more lateral muscles and the hip is more sideways allowing you to engage your glutes and your obliques more as well as hitting with a harder part of the foot that doesn't need to be adjusted to be in proper alignment to maximize effectiveness. The Thai side teep is ever so slightly more rotated forward which means less obliques and more hip flexors (arguably more natural) and hits with a smaller area allowing for [potentiallay] more penetration on the technique. Having trained both of these kicks, from my experience, the Karate style heel driven kick hits more like a hammer and gives more room for error (the heel is always in line with the leg and doesn't need to be adjusted) where as the Thai style is more precise but has less room for error (the ball of the foot does not naturally align with the leg so requires more foot dexterity, less room for error). Both can be effective and both would likely work better than the other in very specific situation.

It's good to keep an open mind and try new things. If you end up not liking the new thing then you are really no worse off, and if you do like it then you get to add another tool to your tool box.
 

Earl Weiss

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General Choi has several types of "Side Kicks" The side Piercing Kick uses the outside back third edge of the foot referred to as the "Footsword" and it is somewhat analogous to the Punch in the rotational, delivery and impact aspects. (This is a characteristic of the "Piercing " designation. ) The Side Kick with the Ball of the foot is called side Thrusting Kick. Thrusting has less twist. It is optimaly used on soft targets. . (Another example is fingertip thrust) An imperfect analogy / comparison is the twist of a bullet and spiraling outward of force on impact thru hydrostatic shock on the body for piecing and the penetration of an arrow for thrusting.
 

skribs

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I feel like there's two factors being discussed here. He does break them down in the video, but it does make it difficult to compare the two when you're changing multiple things. The factors are the motion of the kick and the striking implement.

Motion of the Kick
In my Taekwondo school, we only really go over the traditional style of the side kick. With that said, it doesn't really feature heavily in my Master's style. I think it's more used in forms, and as a stepping stone for teaching the back kick (which later on we teach details that take it away from being a turning side kick) and the hook kick. It's also used in the double back kick. World Taekwondo heavily favors roundhouse kicks, head kicks, and turning kicks; so we don't really go in-depth on front kick or side kick.

In my curriculum I'm developing, I do want to go more in-depth. I still have the traditional style of kick as my basic side kick. This is for a few reasons:
  1. Differentiate it enough from the front kick and get students used to pivoting
  2. Prepare students for other kicks (notably back kick and hook kick)
  3. It's closer to the style of kicks used in the poomsae
In green belt, I plan to work on the thrusting front kick with the ball of the foot, instead of the rising front kick with the instep. At red belt, I plan to expand it further and introduce the concept of what I call "whip kicks", which is taking the traditional form of the kick and replacing it with a faster version. Most of these are for WT sparring, such as:
  • Whip Crescent Kick - chamber instead of swinging the leg through the full arc
  • Whip Back Kick - Starts by flicking your foot toward the target instead of pivot and chamber
  • Whip Hook Kick - A fairly linear hook kick, as opposed to the traditional wheel kick
  • Whip Side Kick - A side kick that starts off as a front kick
I agree 100% that this kick is easier to hit with than the traditional side kick, for both reasons that are stated. It's faster, and it uses a generic chamber that can be for a number of kicks. I feel that a higher belt should be able to learn a variety of ways to do the kick, and don't want to confuse them early on.

Ball of the Foot
I'm going to disagree with everything he said about the ball of the foot, except for the increased range.

The ball of the foot is actually a pretty large area by itself. You're also probably going to get some of your toes in there as well. I would say that of the three (blade, heel, ball), the ball of the foot probably has the most surface area in most cases. On a heel kick, even if your entire foot hits, the heel is still the tip of the spear.

Then there's the question of stability. As you get further away from the ankle, the foot is much less stable. That instability can cushion the blow. The heel and the blade of the foot are going to be much more rigid than striking with the ball of the foot.

I do feel there's a risk of injury of the toes when using the ball of the foot. I suspect this is why some Karate styles do the front kick with the heel. It's why I will not teach the ball of the foot for the roundhouse kick.

The argument for extended range on the kick I agree with. At this point it's basically a front snap kick with your hip rotating into it. However, I think you're sacrificing solidity for reach.
 

skribs

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I tried this out a bit on a BOB. I don't like the ball of the foot for this reason: the foot flexes off of the centerline. With a front kick, the foot flexes up, which is still on the centerline. If you do a roundhouse with the ball of the foot (which I don't recommend), the foot flexes into the kick. With the side kick, your foot is flexing away from the centerline.

It reminds me somewhat of kicks that slide across the chestguard instead of piercing into it.
 

dvcochran

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I tried this out a bit on a BOB. I don't like the ball of the foot for this reason: the foot flexes off of the centerline. With a front kick, the foot flexes up, which is still on the centerline. If you do a roundhouse with the ball of the foot (which I don't recommend), the foot flexes into the kick. With the side kick, your foot is flexing away from the centerline.

It reminds me somewhat of kicks that slide across the chestguard instead of piercing into it.
I get what you are saying and agree in large. But being able/knowing how to kick effectively with the ball of the foot has a ton of value and adds a tool in the tool bag.
I don't know anyone who has sparred a lot that has not hyper-extended their foot from top of the foot roundhouse kicks or had soft tissue injuries to the top of the foot. So much so we practice exploiting the foot using an elbow when people kicked the midsection with the top of the foot. Sometimes you are just going to inadvertently land the kick out towards the end of the foot. If you are kicking with power, it is pretty easy to hyper-extend.
I have tournament TKO's with midsection kicks using the ball of the foot. They can really punish. I also had two full knockouts with b-o-t-f kicks to the off button on the jaw.
They work.

Can you expand on your centerline point? I am not certain I understand this in regards to a rotational kick.
 

skribs

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I get what you are saying and agree in large. But being able/knowing how to kick effectively with the ball of the foot has a ton of value and adds a tool in the tool bag.
I don't know anyone who has sparred a lot that has not hyper-extended their foot from top of the foot roundhouse kicks or had soft tissue injuries to the top of the foot. So much so we practice exploiting the foot using an elbow when people kicked the midsection with the top of the foot. Sometimes you are just going to inadvertently land the kick out towards the end of the foot. If you are kicking with power, it is pretty easy to hyper-extend.
I have tournament TKO's with midsection kicks using the ball of the foot. They can really punish. I also had two full knockouts with b-o-t-f kicks to the off button on the jaw.
They work.

Can you expand on your centerline point? I am not certain I understand this in regards to a rotational kick.

In my opinion, centerline is not always from the nose to the groin. Centerline is relative to the direction of force. If I am to your side, a blow to your ear is centerline. If I am behind you, a blow to the spine is centerline. Similarly, if I am facing you and I use a hook punch, then your ear is centerline, because the force is coming from the side.

For me, centerline is the point in which I'm not losing power due to your rotation. Where your body will not naturally absorb some of the impact by rotating away from the strike. If I punch you in the pec, your body will roll a little bit and some of that force will be lost. If I punch you in the sternum, all of the force from my punch is driving through your sternum.

In the case of a roundhouse kick, a kick to the ribs or jaw is most likely going to be centerline, because it's where the kick is coming from. In the case of the side kick, centerline is straight through from me through the target. It doesn't matter the orientation of the foot. It matters where the force is coming from and where it's going.

Regarding the roundhouse kick - I'm not denying it's effectiveness. But to me, that's where the most injuries to yourself are likely to come from. I honestly would probably go the shin route if it weren't for the way TKD tournaments tend to work (where the top of the foot is required). How much of the TKOs and KOs do you attribute to the ball of the foot, compared to it could have been done with the shin?
 

isshinryuronin

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World Taekwondo heavily favors roundhouse kicks, head kicks, and turning kicks; so we don't really go in-depth on front kick or side kick

I honestly would probably go the shin route if it weren't for the way TKD tournaments tend to work (where the top of the foot is required)."
A short editorial:

Good examples of how tournament rules and the organizations that formulate them can change the practice of TMA. Their agenda is their own, not necessarily what's good for the art or for real combat. While it may increase popularity, this has nothing to do with the quality. Solution - Practice and teach TMA and tournament MA as separate arts and give them different names (or just add a prefix or suffix).
Whip Crescent Kick - chamber instead of swinging the leg through the full arc
Definitely faster but less power and penetration. More of a snap than a follow thru. Two different kicks, really. Good for targeting the extended arm or for a disruptive face slap to set up a powerful followup of some type.
I suspect this is why some Karate styles do the front kick with the heel. It's why I will not teach the ball of the foot for the roundhouse kick.
I see 3 different front kicks. 1) The snapping front kick, hitting with the ball, done at or below the waist, especially the groin. This is very fast with equally fast recovery. Great for closer in fighting. My personal favorite. 2) The front thrust, also using the ball, but pointing the foot to give extra range. Forward hip motion employed for penetration power and additional range, but a little slower than the snapping kick and less agile recovery. 3) The front heel thrust, also using the hip. A closer range kick and good penetration power, especially since traditionally employed while pulling the grabbed opponent into it. While I favor #1 the majority of the time, the other two have their uses as well.
 
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skribs

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Good examples of how tournament rules and the organizations that formulate them can change the practice of TMA. Their agenda is their own, not necessarily what's good for the art or for real combat. While it may increase popularity, this has nothing to do with the quality. Solution - Practice and teach TMA and tournament MA as separate arts and give them different names (or just add a prefix or suffix).
One could argue that the quality of the turning kicks and head kicks gets better as the others get worse. Just like how boxers are really good at punching, because they forsake everything else.
Definitely faster but less power and penetration. More of a snap than a follow thru. Two different kicks, really. Good for targeting the extended arm or for a disruptive face slap to set up a powerful followup of some type.
I see 3 different front kicks. 1). The snapping front kick, hitting with the ball, done at or below the waist. This is very fast with equally fast recovery. Great for closer in fighting. My personal favorite. 2). The front thrust, also using the ball, but pointing the foot to give extra range. Forward hip motion employed for power and additional range, but a little slower than the snapping kick and less agile recovery. 3). The front heel thrust, also using the hip. A closer range kick, but good penetration power, especially since traditionally employed while pulling the opponent into it. While I favor #1 the majority of the time, the other two have their uses as well.
One of the things I'm currently debating with myself is when to introduce variants into my curriculum. On the one hand, I don't want to confuse people when they're first learning it. But how far out do I go?
 

isshinryuronin

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One of the things I'm currently debating with myself is when to introduce variants into my curriculum. On the one hand, I don't want to confuse people when they're first learning it. But how far out do I go?
Depends on your priorities. Does your school emphasize and focus on competition, traditional art, or combat? (Possible that at some schools' definition of TMA may differ: TMA=Competition, others, TMA=Combat, others, TMA=The way) Whatever, I'd first teach the variant that best represents the school's focus.

Once this is introduced, other versions of the kick can be introduced for your secondary area of concentration if you have one. Or, the version that can best piggyback on some particular concept you are working on at a given level. The technically most difficult, or the least likely to be used technique can be saved for later.

But, as in the case of the front kick variants I discussed, I see them as three completely different kicks, utilizing three different principles. The main thing they have in common is simply they are executed linearly to the front. I don't see them as "variants", but rather, unique in their own right. So, IMO, one will likely not be confused with the others, freeing you to teach them whenever you feel is best.

In my front kick example, I see #3 (front heel thrust) as the most advanced. Firstly, for me it's the hardest to do as the knee must be chambered very high to best execute the thrust (employing the hip as well). Secondly, aside from the technical difficulty, it requires (as historically executed in Okinawa) a separate skill set - grabbing the opponent to pull him into the kick. This is a whole topic in itself!

So, maybe these are the kind of things you can think about as they relate to your particular style/school's techniques. I've found that when designing a curriculum or belt test, I draft one that seems good, then on taking a second look, I see something out of place in some fashion. Best to wait a week or two and look at it again. By the 4th draft, I finally come up with something that I'm still happy with even a month later. Yaaay!
 

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