Is ball of the foot roundhouse outdated with modern shoes?

OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
I train kung fu with my shoes on. I spar with my shoes on. Kicking with the ball of foot is still valid. maybe this is why some of the comments here confuse me.
Most combat sports are fought without shoes.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,634
Reaction score
3,575
Most combat sports are fought without shoes.
That's true but outside of the sports arena people have always worn some sort of foot protection.
Footwear is one of the greatest components of both ancient and modern military. Even poor people who couldn't afford shoes would be able to craft at a minimum a sandal.

I think a lot of theories will fall short if you only look at martial arts from a sports perspective. Especially when it comes to "Why things are done a certain way." Kicking with the ball of the foot is simply a safer kick and it can withstand more force and weight than the other option of kicking with toes.

Think of it this way. When you jump you land on the ball of your foot. That same bend in the toes as you land is often the same bend in the toes when people kick with the ball of their feet. You can land on your toes if you like but I don't recommend it.

I personally think training with shoes on is more realistic than training with shoes off. All the street fights I've had I had shoes on. All the conflicts and heated arguments I've been in were with shoes on. Some people wear shoes almost as long as they wear underwear. Some people wear shoes to work and then come home and slip on a different pair of shoes. At the time of this message I've been wearing boots since 6:30 am. it's now 7:45 pm.
 
OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
That's true but outside of the sports arena people have always worn some sort of foot protection.
Footwear is one of the greatest components of both ancient and modern military. Even poor people who couldn't afford shoes would be able to craft at a minimum a sandal.

I think a lot of theories will fall short if you only look at martial arts from a sports perspective. Especially when it comes to "Why things are done a certain way." Kicking with the ball of the foot is simply a safer kick and it can withstand more force and weight than the other option of kicking with toes.

Think of it this way. When you jump you land on the ball of your foot. That same bend in the toes as you land is often the same bend in the toes when people kick with the ball of their feet. You can land on your toes if you like but I don't recommend it.

I personally think training with shoes on is more realistic than training with shoes off. All the street fights I've had I had shoes on. All the conflicts and heated arguments I've been in were with shoes on. Some people wear shoes almost as long as they wear underwear. Some people wear shoes to work and then come home and slip on a different pair of shoes. At the time of this message I've been wearing boots since 6:30 am. it's now 7:45 pm.

There are pros and cons to everything and it doesn't change with shoes. The cons to ball of the foot round kick is that it's less flexible to modifications. You better do it thorough and accurate or leave it be. Imagine what happens if you get spacially suffocated when trying to throw a front kick.. not very effective now is it? That's what happens with the roundhouse ball of the foot mechanically. With the instep, you can just turn your hip over at any time and hit a spot. It doesn't need to be circular, pointed in a precise way, etc and that's the advantage it has over the ball of the foot. The disadvantage of the instep alternative is that the instep is more fragile than the ball of the foot as a tool, especially on hard surfaces.
 
OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
. We NEVER break with the instep; we always break with the ball of the foot on roundhouse kicks. I have always assumed it was due to the ball of the foot being stronger and a more resilient striking surface than the instep.

You never break with the instep because it's less a less practical surface to hit with. It is bone though unlike the ball of the foot, so I'm confident that the power generated is far greater.

If it isn't, then this TKD practitioner did himself a disfavour, and I don't think he did.
 
OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
I realize that you have a preconceived notion about what the ball of the foot can be used for and an agenda, but with respect, you are wrong.

I am wrong about what? I never said that it can't be used for it, I said that it's suboptimal if you get forced into an angle throwing a vertical front kick-ish kick, with a technique that was supposed to be a round kick. How often that happens depends on your footwork and adjustments, but it can't be ruled out.
 
OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
I have trained and taught for fifty years and we have always used shoes. I think the ball of the foot is in the past, where people used to walk barefooted. The front tip of the shoe is a great argument stopper. I've used the upward instep to strike the groin.
Sifu
Puyallup, WA

Makes no sense why you would prefer the tip, even if you are wearing regular shoes. Why hurt your toes when you don't have to? The ball of the foot is designed precisely to avoid hitting with the toes or the instep since these parts are sensitive. Ball of the foot is not sensitive by comparison
 

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,803
Reaction score
2,140
Location
Southeast U.S.
There are pros and cons to everything and it doesn't change with shoes. The cons to ball of the foot round kick is that it's less flexible to modifications. You better do it thorough and accurate or leave it be. Imagine what happens if you get spacially suffocated when trying to throw a front kick.. not very effective now is it? That's what happens with the roundhouse ball of the foot mechanically. With the instep, you can just turn your hip over at any time and hit a spot. It doesn't need to be circular, pointed in a precise way, etc and that's the advantage it has over the ball of the foot. The disadvantage of the instep alternative is that the instep is more fragile than the ball of the foot as a tool, especially on hard surfaces.
In my competition days I could kick you in the head with a front kick from the clinch.
Being spatially suffocated was never a problem and I loved working the clinch.
I have never heard that phrase but have to say it can make a lot of sense in some cases.
 
OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
In my competition days I could kick you in the head with a front kick from the clinch.
Being spatially suffocated was never a problem and I loved working the clinch.
I have never heard that phrase but have to say it can make a lot of sense in some cases.

We have the data. There is only one competition that frequently employed ball of the foot roundhouse with regularity that I know of, and that's Old School, JKA Point Karate. Let's analyze for a minute why that is.

Point Karate is a stop format, meaning you clash for just one strike and are then separated. This means that you can get set and plan a shot, how to angle your foot, the trajectory of the leg, etc., Perfect conditions for a ball of the foot roundhouse kick.

All that said, it's phased out from that competition too.

And .. when there's continuous fighting, we almost never see it. You can kick the neck, meaning instep works just as well, you can kick the body easier. So ball of the foot got phased out due to overall impracticality.

And if you almost never use a variant it's better to supplant it with a variant used for every other situation, because you will throw that one better, since you use it more often.
 
Last edited:
OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
When Machida knocked out Randy Couture with a jumping front kick, Couture thought it was a punch that Koed him, and I imagine that's what it feels like with ball of the foot even if a front kick travels differently.

It will probably feel like a highly concentrated punch. Wheras the instep feels like a whip.
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,829
Reaction score
3,032
Location
Michigan
I am wrong about what? I never said that it can't be used for it, I said that it's suboptimal if you get forced into an angle throwing a vertical front kick-ish kick, with a technique that was supposed to be a round kick. How often that happens depends on your footwork and adjustments, but it can't be ruled out.
I think you like to argue. Have a nice day.
 

isshinryuronin

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
1,083
Reaction score
1,001
Location
Las Vegas
Point Karate is a stop format, meaning you clash for just one strike and are then separated.
Wrong! You clash and throw multiple strikes, going where the action takes you. Separation occurs only after a scoring strike, out of bounds, get tied up, etc. There can be many strikes thrown and considerable time before action is halted.
instep works just as well, you can kick the body easier
Often wrong. Because the foot is pointed towards the opponent during a roundhouse, the ball of the foot or toes can get in holes in the (close) guard more easily and accurately whereas the instep will get blocked. The more I read you, the more it looks like you don't know what you're talking about.


 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,634
Reaction score
3,575
The cons to ball of the foot round kick is that it's less flexible to modifications.
It's flexible enough. It doesn't need to do everything. A screw driver isn't flexible, but the job that it was made for, it does it really well.
Imagine what happens if you get spacially suffocated when trying to throw a front kick.. not very effective now is it?
There are many ways to do a front kick. Use it when you are supposed to use it and it will always be effective. This statement is like me saying "What happens if you try to to catch a ball with your fists.. not very effective now is it?
With the instep, you can just turn your hip over at any time and hit a spot. It doesn't need to be circular, pointed in a precise way, etc and that's the advantage it has over the ball of the foot. The disadvantage of the instep alternative is that the instep is more fragile than the ball of the foot as a tool, especially on hard surfaces.
You can still stuff this up, by using the kick at the wrong time.
 
OP
I

InfiniteLoop

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
523
Reaction score
107
Ball of the foot roundhouse to the body is ideally thrown from an an angle since it ideally travels horizontally. This is a point my instructor made since day 1 when holding mitts, that you should always kick from an angle.

The head can however be kicked straight on because it's not a flat surface like a stomach or a mitts, it sticks out.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,634
Reaction score
3,575
Ball of the foot roundhouse to the body is ideally thrown from an an angle since it ideally travels horizontally. This is a point my instructor made since day 1 when holding mitts, that you should always kick from an angle.

The head can however be kicked straight on because it's not a flat surface like a stomach or a mitts, it sticks out.
I've never heard of this and I'm wondering if you may have the wrong idea. The body isn't flat either, especially for some of us older guys. lol.
The body moves around, it changes angles, and position. It doesn't stand like someone holding mitts.

I have heard of the concept of striking off the center line but that doesn't have anything to do with a "flat body" or a round head. In this case "striking from an angle" Makes it less likely that you'll get hit by something coming from your opponents center.

Out of all of my years of martial arts and sparring. I have never calculated "round head" and "Flat body." I have however calculated "Pointy stuff" like elbows and knees.

Edit: and pointy fingers.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,006
Reaction score
2,898
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
"striking from an angle"
By using the ball of your foot to deliver a right roundhouse kick, it's easier if your opponent is at your northwest direction than at your north direction.

When you use the

- ball of your foot, most of the time you only use your leg muscle without using full body rotation.
- instep, you will always use your full body rotation.

If we consider the "body push/pull limbs" principle, the instep roadhouse kick meet that requirement better.

A back fist is faster, but a hammer fist is more powerful.
 
Last edited:

J. Pickard

Green Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
125
Reaction score
112
Did you kick bare feet in sparring with be ball of the foot and how did it feel? Did you generate solid power?
I almost exclusively use the ball of the foot when sparring. Occasionally I use the shin for light leg kicks or the instep for kicks to the head but I personally prefer the ball of the foot when barefoot. It definitely has power for me, but you won't know what works for you until you try it 1000+ times against various opponents.
 
Top