High Kicks to the Head

Kosho Gakkusei

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I was checking out the thread in the TKD forum about Forms/Pooms and it morphed into a debate about the effectiveness of high kicks to the head. What are your thoughts about high kicks on the street?

Let me copy one of my posts from the TKD Forms thread as I think it conveys alot of my thoughts about it.

_Don Flatt

CIRCUMSTANCES THAT ALLOW FOR KICKING HIGH TO THE HEAD

It's really quite obvious that if you offset a man's balance, cause him to double over, or drop him to the ground makes it easy to deliver a powerful finishing kick to the head. But then again it's not really a high kick then is it?? And we all know if it's not a high kick to the head it just doesn't look as cool so I will outline some circumstances that will allow you to deliver that ultimate kick to the head finish!!

1. Fight someone else who is also trying to kick high to the head. They will definitely be hanging back at the right range and you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques. Just hope your kicking is better than theirs.

2. Become a world class grappler so that people will be weary of getting too close to you then surprise them with that flashy high kick finish you've been working on. They will definitely be hanging back at the right range and you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques.

3. You are Chuck Norris. The mere sight of your beard will cause them to hang back at the right range and you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques.

4. Fake them out. Use hand gestures. Kick them in the legs a few times so they think the high kick is gonna be to the legs. Make a funny face. Whatever it takes to keep them hanging back at the right range so you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques.

5. Your opponent is drunk. This will make it easier to put them at the right range and you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques. (As long as they're drunk and you're not, you should have time for your high kick to the head.)

6. Your opponents back is turned. You could get a friend to tap their shoulder, run into another room and hide behind a door, or pay some hot girl to call their name at the right time. Make sure they're at the right range and you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques.

7. Use a throw, a takedown, or some pesky hand techniques to get them down to the ground then wait for them to get back up and as soon as they do--- Kick them high to the head!!! This way you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques.

Thus ends my public service announcement.

_Don Flatt
 

Xue Sheng

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This one works for me

3. You are Chuck Norris. The mere sight of your beard will cause them to hang back at the right range and you won't have to worry about those pesky throws, takedowns, or hand techniques.
 

CuongNhuka

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Personnely, I don't kick much in the first place. I'm too top heavy really. I have the flexiblity and balance, but not enough balance to try it too much. I have however seen a video of a Tae Kwon Do guy (WTF I think) doing a jump spinning hook kick to his opponents head. The guy went down, and stayed there. Out cold after ONE kick (who says Tae Kwon Do/Karate isn't real?). If only I could post attachments.
 

bluemtn

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I'm not real fond of head- high kicks, but they can be good with proper timing, in my opinion.
 

Kacey

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Like any other technique, high kicks work better for some people than others; if they work for you (and I know plenty of people they work for - me included, for some kicks) - GREAT! If they don't work for you, but they are part of your MA, learn them, improve them as best they can, and gain strength and flexibility from the practice... and maybe, someday, they will work. Maybe they won't - but they won't if you don't try.

Also like any other technique, if you tell yourself high kicks don't work, and therefore don't practice them - or don't practice them as if they work - then they won't. Everyone has techniques they prefer - techniques that work for them for whatever reason - and they tend to practice those techniques the most, and therefore those techniques continue to get better, and work better, than the techniques they don't like and therefore don't practice as often or as hard.
 

foot2face

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Like any other technique, high kicks work better for some people than others; if they work for you (and I know plenty of people they work for - me included, for some kicks) - GREAT! If they don't work for you, but they are part of your MA, learn them, improve them as best they can, and gain strength and flexibility from the practice... and maybe, someday, they will work. Maybe they won't - but they won't if you don't try.

Also like any other technique, if you tell yourself high kicks don't work, and therefore don't practice them - or don't practice them as if they work - then they won't. Everyone has techniques they prefer - techniques that work for them for whatever reason - and they tend to practice those techniques the most, and therefore those techniques continue to get better, and work better, than the techniques they don't like and therefore don't practice as often or as hard.

Thank You!

Your reasonable insight has been refreshing. Indicative of an experienced MAist I would expect to find on MartialTalk.

Again, thank you for your common sense.

Respectfully, Foot2Face
 

seasoned

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I have studied and teach GoJu karate and high kicks have a place in training and in sparring they can surprise someone. But in my opinion they have no place in self defense at all. A high kick takes a special talent that not everyone has flexibility. A low kick takes technique and someone can learn it fairly fast. In self defense we should keep our kicks from their midrange down and our hand techniques from their midrange up. Self defense is for everyone but high kicks are not, point said.

 

MJS

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My personal preference is to keep them stomach level and below. I've never really been a high kicker. During some sparring sessions I've pulled off some good roundhouse kicks to the head, but that was while wearing a gi and being nice and stretched. :)

Now, this isn't to say that others can't pull them off. Again, this is my preference. If the person I was kicking, was already bent over from another kick, then sure, the head might be a target for me.

Mike
 
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Kosho Gakkusei

Kosho Gakkusei

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Relevant post on TKD Forms/Poomse thread.

No acrimony is intended. I'm not even sure of the definition of acrimony but judging from the context of your response, I was making a point with humor. I'm sorry you did not find it funny. We must not only use a different approach to fighting but also humor. My last post was for those of you that will enjoy the wit.

Stating my opinion without the wit. Successful use of a high kick not only requires the appropriate training to do so ie. flexibility, balance, power, speed, & timing but also requires an appropriate set up to work. The range of the move is very particular and the movement is easily jammed in chamber.

Can it work? Yes, depends on the skill level of both parties. You have a "kicker's chance" which is slightly worse odds than a "puncher's chance." Strategically, I would veiw it as slightly inferior to seeking a one punch knockout. Reason being is that it takes longer to throw a kick to the head than it takes to throw a punch to the head and it also takes longer to retract a kick than it takes to retract a punch. Additionally, being on one foot temporarily makes you immobile. My preference is maintaining mobility and utilizing combinations.

Let me relate a relevant story. As a concrete dispatcher, I interact with some interesting truckers. One such is an aging biker appropriately nicknamed "Chopper". Chopper is only 5'8" but has shoulders over 3' wide and is built like a tank. He related an occaison when a "Black Belt from Red Dragon Karate" started a fight with him in a biker bar. According to Chopper, the black belt kicked him in the head a few times. Chopper then showed me a permanent egg he had on his shaved head from the incident. I asked him what happened next and he told me that he got mad and put the black belt in the hospital as well as some of the other "black belts" that had tried to jump in to help their friend.

_Don Flatt
 

foot2face

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My personal preference is to keep them stomach level and below. I've never really been a high kicker. During some sparring sessions I've pulled off some good roundhouse kicks to the head, but that was while wearing a gi and being nice and stretched. :)

Now, this isn't to say that others can't pull them off. Again, this is my preference. If the person I was kicking, was already bent over from another kick, then sure, the head might be a target for me.

Mike

Not to sound as if I am singling you out MJS, I have read several of your post and find your conduct respectable. I mean no insult, I'm merely trying to make a point. Is it your preference not to kick to the head or is it that you lack the years of extensive and specific training required in order to consistently and effectively land a powerful kick to the head? Far too often people who feel compelled to criticize a particular method don't have the experience with that method needed to offer a meaningful critique. They base their opinion on what they do, and if they don't do it, it must be wrong, period. This is not the humility I would expect from a competent MAist. It reminds me of the arrogant statements heard before BJJ became mainstream, " A karateka will always defeat a Judo player," or "grappling is for a game, karate is for a fight." I think we all can appreciate the folly of such declarative statements. Sadly it seems the like will never end.

Thanks, Foot2Face
 

foot2face

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Relevant post on TKD Forms/Poomse thread.

Forgive me, based on the other post directed at me I perceived insult. Since non was intended, I truly apologize.

Once again with apologies- Foot2Face(or in this case FOOTinMOUTH)
 

kidswarrior

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Originally Posted by Kosho Gakkusei
CIRCUMSTANCES THAT ALLOW FOR KICKING HIGH TO THE HEAD

Kick them in the legs a few times....
Not to sound like I'm trying to one-up anyone, and I'm wondering if KG's whole post was tongue in cheek, but either way: If I can kick him in the legs 'a few times', he's done. :cool: Fight's over, let's go home. I mean, is it just me, or does that scenario work for others, too? I know every kung fu san soo stylist has to agree with this.
 

exile

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The fact that, so far as I am aware, every single MAist with significant professional streetfighting expertise who has written on the topic of high kicks has dismissed them as dangerous and impractical under realistic combat scenarios seems to me to be rather indicative of the singular weakness of thee as CQ tactics for self defense. I've given some of the key references in the `limited poomsae' thread, but I think it worth reciting at least the six or seven pages Tristan Sutrisno and Marc MacYoung, in their book Becoming a Complete Martial Artists: Error Detection in Self-Defense and the Martial Arts, devote to the inherent combat weakness of high kicks, with no compensating advantages whatever.

But if the experience of those who actually have the experience is of no interest, there are still such obvious inherent weaknesses to appealing to high kicks (I've itemized just a few of them here) that the burden of proof definitely shifts to anyone who advocates such kicks. And from what I've seen on the other thread discussion, that burden of proof hasn't even begun to be met, even a little bit.

Still, people have to decide for themselves. If someone, against all the factual objections to such marginal techniques, wants to pursue them in a nasty confrontation in a bar, in preference to the many techs that the TMAs make available with far greater margins of safety and likelihood of effective force delivery to vulnerable points on the assailant's body, that's fine.
 

still learning

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Hello, Every kick/ punch has it place and time. Those that are able to kick to the HEAD and able to do it effectively....that is a great weapon to have and use.

Sometimes punching head is not the best tarket...so is kicking low..when (if you can)...you can kick there heads.

Knife is hand has it place...hammer blows...ridge hand all has it place and time...so is kick to head.

When one limits his tools...he limits his skills. NOT everyone has the ablility to kick effective/quickly/hard ...to head.

Running has it place too......Best to leave your HEAD on....do not kick it!

Aloha........
 

bluemtn

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Like any other technique, high kicks work better for some people than others; if they work for you (and I know plenty of people they work for - me included, for some kicks) - GREAT! If they don't work for you, but they are part of your MA, learn them, improve them as best they can, and gain strength and flexibility from the practice... and maybe, someday, they will work. Maybe they won't - but they won't if you don't try.

Also like any other technique, if you tell yourself high kicks don't work, and therefore don't practice them - or don't practice them as if they work - then they won't. Everyone has techniques they prefer - techniques that work for them for whatever reason - and they tend to practice those techniques the most, and therefore those techniques continue to get better, and work better, than the techniques they don't like and therefore don't practice as often or as hard.

Well said Kacey!! High roundhouse kicks are really easy for me, that and front kicks. The only 2 that I can actually get a good height on, so I reserve those as a "surprise"- like when an opponent has their guard down... However, that's just my personal prefference, and what comes naturally.
 

exile

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Well said Kacey!! High roundhouse kicks are really easy for me, that and front kicks. The only 2 that I can actually get a good height on, so I reserve those as a "surprise"- like when an opponent has their guard down... However, that's just my personal prefference, and what comes naturally.

But the question is not whether high kicks are practical in a general sparring situation, TKD_G. The question is whether they are useful in a close-quarters self-defense situation against an unsought attack by a dangerous, but likely street-savvy assailant who's probably not much more than a foot away from you, and when every other avenue of escape from the situation has failed. I can snap off a roundhouse kick to something like my own head height, and I'm 6' tall. But not when the target's 14" or less away from me hand has just grabbed my shirt or thown a haymaker at me from that distance.
 

Miles

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But the question is not whether high kicks are practical in a general sparring situation, TKD_G. The question is whether they are useful in a close-quarters self-defense situation against an unsought attack by a dangerous, but likely street-savvy assailant who's probably not much more than a foot away from you, and when every other avenue of escape from the situation has failed. I can snap off a roundhouse kick to something like my own head height, and I'm 6' tall. But not when the target's 14" or less away from me hand has just grabbed my shirt or thown a haymaker at me from that distance.

Was that the question Exile? I don't recall parameters being set in the original post. FWIW, I agree with Kacey.

Miles
 

Kacey

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But the question is not whether high kicks are practical in a general sparring situation, TKD_G. The question is whether they are useful in a close-quarters self-defense situation against an unsought attack by a dangerous, but likely street-savvy assailant who's probably not much more than a foot away from you, and when every other avenue of escape from the situation has failed. I can snap off a roundhouse kick to something like my own head height, and I'm 6' tall. But not when the target's 14" or less away from me hand has just grabbed my shirt or thown a haymaker at me from that distance.
Then you don't know - or don't train - the right kicks, and that's your choice. But I know plenty of people who do. Here's an example:

Terry, a BB I knew when I started TKD as a white belt was walking back to his car from class. He had his gym bag in one hand, and his briefcase in the other. He was approached by 2 men, one of whom said "D'you have any change?" The other man had started to fade to Terry's rear as the first man attempted to panhandle.

Terry said no, and the first man said "D'you have any bills I can have?"

Terry said no again, and the first man (who was now within grabbing distance) said "The you'll have to give me everything you have!" and reached out to grab Terry by the front of his shirt.

Terry placed 1 high kick (like a front kick, but the target is parallel to the ground - and it's a short range kick, really only effective within 18" or so) under the first guy's chin; the first guy was unconscious before he hit the sidewalk. Terry whirled around to hit the second guy, but he was already gone.

His story was corroborated by a woman who was just leaving a nearby office building, who saw the whole thing and ducked back in to call the police.

As I recall, Terry was 5'9" or 5'10" - from the description he gave, the guy he knocked out was about 6'.

As I said - if you don't believe it, you won't train it, and if you don't train it, then it won't work. This isn't saying it will work for everyone - I never said that - but just because you've got all these references who say it can't work, doesn't mean it can't - it means it can't work for them. It also means that you are placing false limitations on yourself - and that's your choice; high kicks aren't for everyone. But they can work in a self defense situation - and that's not a book reference, that's my knowledge of an actual event in which a high kick was the only technique thrown - at short range. Make of it what you will - just remember that no reference, however good, can cover every person's experiences.
 

foot2face

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Kacey, perhaps you can ask Exile to lend you one of his many books that detail what you've just describe, as not possible.

Thanks again- Foot2Face
 

exile

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Kacey, perhaps you can ask Exile to lend you one of his many books that detail what you've just describe, as not possible.

Thanks again- Foot2Face

Ah, but you see, f2f, Kacey wasn't describing, so far as I can see, a kick to the head when you're a foot away from an assailant who's grabbed or thrown a punch at you! That's the difference. We aren't discussing the feasibility of a kick to the head per se. We're discussing the feasibility of doing a standing split, in an upright position, on a bad surface surrounded by tables/trashcans/jostling bodies/etc. in the fraction of second you need to terminate the fight. I don't recall anyone actually describing how to do that. And that's one of the reasons why my many books, written by people who have expertise in this particular area—practical, realistic self-defense—say that it's a bad, bad thing to try to do. You see, they're not talking about whether a description is possible—you can describe anything. What they're talking about is execution.

Was that the question Exile? I don't recall parameters being set in the original post. FWIW, I agree with Kacey.

That was the context of the discussion in which all this came up on the other thread, Miles. Whether high kicks are practical for most MA practitioners in a SD situation. Kosho was carrying that context over, I assume, when he started this post, since he too thinks that high kicks are not a practical resource for most people in a streetfight.
 

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