Where does your left foot point in a right-leg roundhouse kick?

skribs

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Using the clock analogy (where 12:00 is forward, 6:00 backward, 9:00 is left and 3:00 is right), where does your left foot point when you roundhouse with the right leg?

Personally, I feel that kicks are best if your foot and knee are in line with the kick, and if your hips are square to the kick. It can be forward (with a front kick) or reverse (with a back kick), but always in line. Therefore, I prefer kicking with the left leg at 9:00 (maybe 8:00) for a roundhouse kick. Since the kick is traveling to the left, that puts everything in line with the power of the kick.

However, my Master has been teaching us recently to pivot all the way around to 6:00. I've noticed it does help with reach and height, and it does seem to whip my hips around. However, it also puts my shoulder into my line of sight (because my body is dropping back further to make up for my hips coming around), and I find it harder to balance than I did with my foot pointing in the direction of the kick, because I'm balancing the force on my foot's width instead of length.

For now, I'll do my kicks at 6:00 instead of 9:00, because that's how my Master wants them done. But I'm curious for your guys' thoughts on this.
 

Dirty Dog

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Like so much else, it depends. A head shot should pivot all the way around, at what you're referring to as 6 o'clock. As the target goes down, you will pivot less.
You will also find that pivoting changes distancing.
 

Martial D

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Using the clock analogy (where 12:00 is forward, 6:00 backward, 9:00 is left and 3:00 is right), where does your left foot point when you roundhouse with the right leg?

Personally, I feel that kicks are best if your foot and knee are in line with the kick, and if your hips are square to the kick. It can be forward (with a front kick) or reverse (with a back kick), but always in line. Therefore, I prefer kicking with the left leg at 9:00 (maybe 8:00) for a roundhouse kick. Since the kick is traveling to the left, that puts everything in line with the power of the kick.

However, my Master has been teaching us recently to pivot all the way around to 6:00. I've noticed it does help with reach and height, and it does seem to whip my hips around. However, it also puts my shoulder into my line of sight (because my body is dropping back further to make up for my hips coming around), and I find it harder to balance than I did with my foot pointing in the direction of the kick, because I'm balancing the force on my foot's width instead of length.

For now, I'll do my kicks at 6:00 instead of 9:00, because that's how my Master wants them done. But I'm curious for your guys' thoughts on this.
From about 11 to 8(pivot) ideally
 

isshinryuronin

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TKD (and perhaps other) doctrine may encourage a healthy pivot between 9:00 and the more extreme 6:00. The pivot does increase both range and height as already pointed out by Dirty Dog. However, this does come with a cost. Skribs touched on a couple he considers notable. For me, other concerns shape the way I execute a roundhouse kick. Partly because I am not of the TKD persuasion (though I have friends who are:),) being of Okinawan tradition, and partly because of my own personal style.

I personally would not pivot past 9:00 ever, and only that much when kicking to the head (which I used to be able to.) Such high kicks are generally contrary to traditional Okinawan doctrine which stresses lower targets (sport karate has its own thing which I will not address here.) My own view is to pivot as little as possible when targeting these areas, like to just 11:30!

The more one pivots the more one is exposed IMO. It certainly hinders continuing forward offensive motion as the body is facing away from the opponent, making an immediate follow-up impossible (except for a spin move.) I try to keep my shoulders more square to the opponent so as I put down my right kick, a left reverse punch (or check) can land at the same time without pivoting the body, or a left front kick can be quickly launched.

My sensei (who has more knowledge about the body than me) believes that even to lower targets a pivot to about 10:00 to 10:30 is beneficial, taking strain off the hip rotation. So, like skribs, I listen to my sensei and have compromised and increased my pivot to end up at about 10:30. This works for my particular body and fighting style. Others surely differ.

However one pivots, it should facilitate further offensive action, providing a measure of safety and stability. Most of all, it should fit in with your comfort zone and tactical plan.
 

andyjeffries

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Kukkiwon standards have it currently more like 9:00 than 6:00. @skribs posted this same question somewhere else and I gave the biomechanical reasons why it's like that (I can re-share them here if anyone is interested). The latest Kukkiwon poomsae videos created show a pivot like that -
 

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This is something I've always wondered about too. (Apologies, I realise this is a TKD forum question)

Like DD, we were taught that the higher the kick, the more you should pivot. Lower kicks it's fine at 9:00. Head kick at 6:00.

I tend to pivot to about 9:00 or even 7:30. I try pivoting my foot to 6:00 (the full 180°) especially for high kicks, but I feel a little off balance, like @skribs said about the foot facing the direction of the kick.

Then I'm also wondering about knee health. I've always been told to pivot as much as you can to protect the knee from any torque. Would anyone say this is the case? Would pivoting to 9:00 be more 'damaging' to the knee than say 6:00? Juat wondering if this is a big reason why the big pivot...
 

Earl Weiss

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None of the above answers take into account individual hip mobility. I became acutely aware of this. From first days in TKD my feet turned out nd the instructor would tell me not to stand like a duck. I had issues getting toes lower than the heel on sidekick and some instructors tried to fix it by twisting my feet. While on a ski lift I would note ho some had their skis nearly parallel while seated , many had a 15-45 degree angle and mine were at 90 degrees. At age 50 or so I found I had a congenital alignment issue which can be fixed if caught at a young age that limited the rotational range of motion and explained the angle. The fix for me was rotating to 6 O'clock . Without that I would never be able to do the kick. Female hip angle can also allow for a greater range of motion. I know a few who can use the roundhouse / turning kick and hit like a mule with little foot rotation.
 

andyjeffries

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None of the above answers take into account individual hip mobility.

My answer doesn't take that into account because I answered from a Kukkiwon standards point of view. The Kukkiwon's consistent answer is always "The standard is X, if you can't do it do to body structure or size, do what you can do". So I didn't want to list all of the possible variations depending on the potential body differences, given the answer would be the same.

If you have had your foot amputated it's OK for it not to face anywhere...
 

Tony Dismukes

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In Muay Thai, I was taught rotating to 6:00 as a default and that's the way I teach it. However, in real fights you will often see MT fighters only rotating to 9:00 or so. That's because there's a trade-off: less rotation means more speed and less commitment, more rotation means more power.

To add another nuance, I was also taught to set up that rear leg round kick with a step at about 45 degrees forward (about 10:30 on the clock). That way, even though the heel of the support foot ends up pointing at the target, it's not a full 180 degree rotation, because your initial step has taken you off the opponent's centerline.

Once again, you often see that initial step omitted in real fights because of the trade off between speed and power. However I've found that when throwing kicks while sparring with sticks that this preparatory step offline is essential for kicking safely. (Also you attack with your stick as you step, masking the kick more effectively than in unarmed sparring.)
 
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Then I'm also wondering about knee health. I've always been told to pivot as much as you can to protect the knee from any torque. Would anyone say this is the case? Would pivoting to 9:00 be more 'damaging' to the knee than say 6:00? Juat wondering if this is a big reason why the big pivot...

I would argue it's actually better for knee health to be in line with the kick. Your knee is designed to take stress forward and backward, not left-right. That's why NFL players have their knees blown out more from sideways pressure than from forward pressure, and it's part of why Muay Thai fighters check kicks with their shin instead of the side of their leg.

In Muay Thai, I was taught rotating to 6:00 as a default and that's the way I teach it. However, in real fights you will often see MT fighters only rotating to 9:00 or so. That's because there's a trade-off: less rotation means more speed and less commitment, more rotation means more power.

To add another nuance, I was also taught to set up that rear leg round kick with a step at about 45 degrees forward (about 10:30 on the clock). That way, even though the heel of the support foot ends up pointing at the target, it's not a full 180 degree rotation, because your initial step has taken you off the opponent's centerline.

One thing my Master says is to train all your kicks as high as you can, because when you get tired and your kicks drop, you'll still be kicking legal targets (no low kicks in WT sparring). This is also why we train such exaggerated chambers for a lot of our techniques - because people tend to regress when you go from drilling to sparring, and so if you exaggerate when drilling, you'll regress to normal when sparring.

I have found the Muay Thai footwork on the kicks to be interesting. On the one hand, it does open your hips up for a powerful kick, but I also feel it's very telegraphed compared to the TMA method (what else are you going to do with a step like that, except to roundhouse kick). I also think it's interesting that the footwork is actually similar to the stance changes in the more modern Taegeuk forms (although they never use it as a setup for a roundhouse). The older style of stance changes is you change from back stance to front stance by pointing your back heel backward, where the Taegeuk style has you step out with the front leg to extend into front stance.
 

dvcochran

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In Muay Thai, I was taught rotating to 6:00 as a default and that's the way I teach it. However, in real fights you will often see MT fighters only rotating to 9:00 or so. That's because there's a trade-off: less rotation means more speed and less commitment, more rotation means more power.

To add another nuance, I was also taught to set up that rear leg round kick with a step at about 45 degrees forward (about 10:30 on the clock). That way, even though the heel of the support foot ends up pointing at the target, it's not a full 180 degree rotation, because your initial step has taken you off the opponent's centerline.

Once again, you often see that initial step omitted in real fights because of the trade off between speed and power. However I've found that when throwing kicks while sparring with sticks that this preparatory step offline is essential for kicking safely. (Also you attack with your stick as you step, masking the kick more effectively than in unarmed sparring.)
Nail on the head Tony.
From a fighting perspective there is much more going on than just the static kick that must be considered. A roundhouse kick is as often a preliminary move or setup as it is a power kick. This will change the mechanics of the kick.
@skribs, maybe it will help form an answer if you can say whether you are referring to form kicks. In the KKW judging classes I have been through the term visual matrix was referred to often. Height, flexibility, dexterity, play a factor but I think from a judges perspective the standing heel should be at 7:00 to 9:00 and incorporated into the matrix.
Take Taeguek 6 for example; if you crank all the way over to 6:00 and lean way back you will struggle to move forward after the kick. This is a key part of the form because it is all forward biased and on the aggressive. So this should be clearly seen, not awkwardly moving out of the kick to the next move.
I don’t necessarily like the word ‘tradeoff’ But it is apt for the discussion. What is happening next is paramount to the kicking anatomy.
 

Tony Dismukes

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I have found the Muay Thai footwork on the kicks to be interesting. On the one hand, it does open your hips up for a powerful kick, but I also feel it's very telegraphed compared to the TMA method (what else are you going to do with a step like that, except to roundhouse kick).
I think this is part of why MT fighters don't always use that footwork in actual fights unless they've set it up (typically with punches) in a way which makes it harder to see coming.

On the other hand, learning to use those kicks while fighting with weapons was a revelation. The footwork makes so much more sense in that context. For example, start with your stick in your right hand and your right side forward. Attack with a forehand strike to your opponent's head while stepping forward at a 45 degree angle with your rear (left) foot. You are now in the same position that I was taught to kick from. Now throw a simultaneous backhand strike to the head with your stick and a rear leg roundhouse kick to the body or legs. (This is the same body mechanics as the standard MT method of dropping the kicking-side arm to add torque on the kick.)

This seems to work really well in my practice so far. The footwork closes the gap, puts you at a favorable angle, and puts a lot of power into the kick. The attacks with the stick make it really hard to see the kick coming or to block it if they do detect it. It also puts you in an excellent position for follow ups. I've seen some footage of Dog Brothers fights where one fighter gets dropped with a kick landed this way.

Since Muay Thai is derived from Muay Boran, which was related to Krabi Krabong, it wouldn't surprise me if that sort of usage has some historical basis.
 
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Now throw a simultaneous backhand strike to the head with your stick and a rear leg roundhouse kick to the body or legs. (This is the same body mechanics as the standard MT method of dropping the kicking-side arm to add torque on the kick.)

I find the opposite. I find this acts as a counterweight to make the recoil faster, but by pulling your shoulder back, you're preventing your full weight from going into the kick.
 

Tony Dismukes

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I find the opposite. I find this acts as a counterweight to make the recoil faster, but by pulling your shoulder back, you're preventing your full weight from going into the kick.
I find that it helps me engage my core to accelerate the kick faster. Imagine reaching out with your right hand, grabbing hold of something solid, like a door frame) and then pulling the lower half of your body to catch up. That's the feeling of the body dynamics, just without an actual solid object to grab on to. It's not 100% necessary - not all MT fighters do it all the time, but there's a reason most of them do it most of the time.
 

Earl Weiss

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My answer doesn't take that into account because I answered from a Kukkiwon standards point of view. ...

Sir, ITF / Chang Hon has a standard as well. Didn't seem like the OP was requesting a "Technical Standards" answer - but maybe he was.
 

Earl Weiss

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To add another nuance, I was also taught to set up that rear leg round kick with a step at about 45 degrees forward (about 10:30 on the clock). )

You may find it of interest that there is a Chang Hon Pattern that stipulates this step as part of the kick execution.
 
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I find that it helps me engage my core to accelerate the kick faster. Imagine reaching out with your right hand, grabbing hold of something solid, like a door frame) and then pulling the lower half of your body to catch up. That's the feeling of the body dynamics, just without an actual solid object to grab on to. It's not 100% necessary - not all MT fighters do it all the time, but there's a reason most of them do it most of the time.

It's faster, but with less weight behind it. More snap, less follow-through.

It's also a habit I try to break in my students, because they tend to drop their arm when they use it as a counter-weight.

Sir, ITF / Chang Hon has a standard as well. Didn't seem like the OP was requesting a "Technical Standards" answer - but maybe he was.

I was.
 

Tony Dismukes

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It's faster, but with less weight behind it. More snap, less follow-through.
This may be down to the different body mechanics between MT and TKD. MT round kicks swing like a bat right through the target, so there is plenty of body weight and follow-through. TKD kicks have more of that whipping/snapping action, so maybe using the arm as a counterweight interferes more with the follow-through.

It's also a habit I try to break in my students, because they tend to drop their arm when they use it as a counter-weight.
I just drill into my students the importance of getting that hand right back up. Also the importance of keeping the other hand guarding the head while kicking and the desirability of moving off line when kicking.
 

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Imagine reaching out with your right hand, grabbing hold of something solid, like a door frame) and then pulling ...
Do you like to train your kick (such as roundhouse kick, or side kick) when you pull your opponent's leading arm?

When you have chance to grab on your opponent's leading arm, do you want to

1. kick him?
2. punch him?
3. take him down?

My concern is if you can pull your opponent's arm, you can establish a clinch. I prefer to obtain that clinch than to land my kick on my opponent's body.

IMO, it makes sense to move from:

kicking range -> punching range -> clinch range

It doesn't make sense to move from:

clinching range -> kicking range

What's your opinion on this?
 
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