Tae Kwon Do is a kicking-oriented martial art. Possibly no other style in the world has dedicated itself so fully to the study and scientific development of kicking technique. If you are a Tae Kwon Do student, whether gup or Dan, there is a good chance you will be devoting a great deal of your class time toward leg technique. Why is Tae Kwon Do so kicking oriented? There are several reasons for this, both cultural and practical:
1. Korea historically has been known as a land of great handiwork and culture. Hands were seen as a source of livelihood and creating beutiful objects. As such, unworthy and impractical for fighting. As a result, kicking was developed to protect hands from damage and loss of income. Similarly, concert musicians go to great lengths to protect their hands.
2. Korea is a very mountanous country. Traditionally, its people have walked from one point to another. Therefore, walking over mountains and steep terrain for long periods will build up the leg muscles and greatly increase muscular strength. Additionally, heavy shoes required for walking lend themselves nicely to kicking reinforcement.
3. Koreans traditionally have practiced games and activities requiring a great deal of skill. Kicking, as any serious student will tell you, is not easy. Historically, Tae Kyon (precursor to Tae Kwon Do) contests were played with kicking the head earning the highest number points-a tradition that finds its place in modern Tae Kwon Do free fighting.
4. Koreans learned early on that the legs, being longer and up to 3-times stronger than the arms, make better weapons than arms, once they have been learned properly. A well placed and well timed kick can inflict tremendous damage.
There are several surfaces on the foot available for various
kicking techniques. These include: the instep(roundhouse kick),
ball of the foot(front kick), heel(side kick, ax kick).
Additionally, the foot position for each technique can be modified depending on what type of practice is being done.
For example, the side kick can be changed to fit breaking, when a powerful foot is desired, or free fighting, when a soft foot is desired.
Kicking power is a product of Speed x Accuracy x Stopping
Power. Kicking should be practiced until one can hit exactly,
with speed and control.
The following are several kicks used in
John Taylor demonstrating high roundhouse
Flying side kick
High side kick