Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Front kick: the Secret Weapon!

Whaaat? The lowly front kick a secret weapon???" Now you've lost it, TDA! Your time away from the blog has made your mind rusty! I don't think so. Read on, my friends!

In the past few years, my personal training has become eclectic. I no longer teach the "pure" arts of my youth, but what works for me. My teaching is now to share what I believe is most effective in the arts in which I have trained. I current training has a "reality" focus, and is composed of drills, exercises, and sparring to cultivate effective responses to common attacks and weapons - from knives, handguns, and clubs, to various empty-hand strikes and grappling attacks. If you've been reading TDA Training since '04, as all of you should have (!), then you'll know where I'm coming from. On to our story:

Since Sam, Mike, Dan, and others have trained with me, I've emphasized mostly three kicks: the Thai roundhouse, the  low checking kick, and the front kick. In my personal sparring and drills, however, I emphasize the brutal Thai kick, and apply liberal use of knees (sorry fellas!). I have to say, however, that Sam rarely ever missed when he'd sneak in a front kick! Why? Am I as bad as all that? Is Sam that good? There is a good bit of truth to both, but more than that, the front kick is a very effective weapon.
Let us count the ways:

  1. When your opponent is square to you (as most will probably be), you can easily blast a front kick into the body, hips, groin, or face. The square stance provides ample targets, and thus if one area is closed because of the opponent's guard, something else has to be open. For Sam, I am easy pickings because of my reliance on the Thai kick and knees. When you Thai kick, you don't take a sideways stance - you are squared up. Same with using the knees - I like to use them to the thighs of my opponent without clinching, and to the groin, thighs, body and head when I do clinch. In order to clinch, I have to square up. I am open!
  2. The front kick is an excellent stop-hit because to do it properly, you shift your weight forward, then drive off the supporting leg and straight into your opponent. That makes it a good counter to the back-leg roundhouse or a rear hand punch (because the opponent squares up to perform them).
  3. It's quick and easy to use without telegraphing as part of a combination. If you throw the kick as part of a hand combination, the hands will set up the kick without a telegraph. If you lead off with it, you're liable to get hit because it's easy to see. As a defensive weapon (stop-hit), the front leg front kick can be done as you shift your weight back to feign retreat. I like to use it that way to draw someone in.
  4. It can be a very powerful weapon. Because of the alignment of the body, the rear leg front kick can be used to knock down doors in a raid, demolish small buildings, or blast through the guard of a standing opponent. I train with shoes, and usually outdoors, but with standard street shoes or boots, a front kick can easily damage any soft tissue or bone in which it comes into contacts. The reason is that if you have hard soles on, the heel (my preferred point of contact) will go right through someone's guard or take out a leg. For more surface area on the kick, turn the toes out a la Wing Chun or Savate. Bob at Striking Thoughts has a nice post on the former.
  5. It doesn't require much training or flexibility to perform a front kick because the chamber is the same motion used to climb stairs, and the kick shouldn't be thrown high. In fact, you'll achieve maximum power kicking no higher than hip level, and most people and raise their foot that high without flexibility training.

The Cons of the venerable Front Kick:

  1. In order to throw it you get all squared up yourself! With the front leg, that's not the case, but the rear-leg front kick requires you to chamber the kick from a square stance, then throw it. There's a window of vulnerability from the opening created. Beware of it, and so don't use it constantly or your opponent will pick up the timing and see the telegraph.
  2. It's not a good lead-off technique for the reasons above. Use it as part of a combination where you lead off with another technique, or intentionally telegraph by leading off with it to draw their guard down so that you can attack the high sector of their defenses. This can work because you don't leave it out there as an opening. Speed's important, plus good acting.
  3. You are on one leg! I know, that's a characteristic of all kicks. However the plant position of the support foot means that you're vulnerable to being knocked straight back if you aren't careful. So be careful!
  4. Your leg can be grabbed. OK - again, all kicks have this drawback, but so does this one, so that's why I'm listing it! Stop being so critical for goodness' sake! Seriously, to reduce the likelihood of being dumped on your butt from a grab, kick fast and low. Simple.
  5. Finally, beware of your footing. Some kicks have a tendency to cause slips. The front kick is one of them. As someone who's trained almost exclusively on pavement and grass (as a training surface, not the other kind), including drills and sparring, I can tell you that the forward motion, then quick plant of using the front kick makes it risky if you aren't sure of your footing. For that reason, I don't use it unless it's low and measured (in terms of power). Whenever you go all out with any technique, you risk maximum embarrassment because you can go down with a miss. Never more true that with the Deadly Front Kick!

I hope you've enjoyed our little foray into the world of front kicking. Thanks for reading. 


Rick Fryer said...

Nice Post.

The Front Kick just doesn't get enough respect.

Spin kicks get all the good press because of their flash and thai kicks because of their power - but the simple front kick (and it's cousin, the knee kick) is a real weapon for anyone interested in serious self-defense.



Nathan Teodoro said...

Darn it! I should've thought of that! I could've called it, "The Rodney Dangerfield of kicks!" Man. You know how to make a guy feel dumb. Doh!
Thanks Rick.

Rick Fryer said...

"My kicks don't get NO respect... when they were little, I had to tie a bone around them to get the dog to play with them! OOOOOOwwww!

Nathan Teodoro said...

LOL! That's it. From now on, I email all posts to you for titles! Thanks for the good morning laugh.