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The Intercepting Kicks of Taekwondo

By Scott Shaw

The Korean martial art of Taekwondo is immediately identified by its extensive kicking arsenal. The focus of Taekwondo’s expansive use of the kick became even more clearly defined as the art moved into the ranks of an Olympic sport during the 1980’s.

At the Olympic level, Taekwondo’s focus is placed upon the use of the feet as the predominate weapons of offensive. No punching is allowed to an opponent’s face—though kicking to the head is a viable and sought after option.

Modern Taekwondo has focused primarily upon making the art an aggressive, attack orientated system of martial arts. Though the kicking techniques taught in Taekwondo are predominately geared towards offensive applications, the same kicks which are commonly used as aggressive weapons of attack can be used to defensively intercept the onslaught of an attacking opponent and immediately put an end to his assault. The only difference between the offensive and defensive application of the Taekwondo kick is how, when, and where it is targeted.

Taekwondo’s Kicking Strategy
To begin to understand how to use the Taekwondo kick as a defensive weapon it must first be understood that if you are continually in an offensive posture—hoping to out kick or overpower your opponent, then you will not be able to use your kicks as defensive tools. This overemphasized offensive mindset is prevalent among many modern Olympic style Taekwondo practitioners. They are commonly taught that by kicking and kicking some more, sooner or later they will win the match by points—if nothing else. Though this understanding may, in fact, be at least partially true when you are wearing a chest protector and engaged in a sanctioned match—this mindset will completely be undermined the minute you go up against as savvy opponent on the street—where the first and most powerfully delivered strike often times sets the stage for who will win the confrontation.

Understanding this, the modern Taekwondo stylist can begin to redevelop their expansive kicking arsenal and use their kicks not only as powerful weapons of offensive but as precise defensive weapons, as well.

The Offense of Defense
When a Taekwondo kick is used as a defensive weapon it must be initially understood that if you possess the opportunity to launch a preemptive kick to an open target on your opponent: such as a Front Kick to his groin, solar plexus, or under his chin, than this is your opportunity to stop the assault before it begins and you should take advantage of this opening. This style of defensive offense is not always applicable on the street or in sanctioned matches, however. Thus, the science of the defensive Taekwondo kick must be studied further to see how it can be used most effectively in all types of physical combat.

Defining the Defensive Kick
When you begin to use the Taekwondo kick as a defensive weapons there are three primary rules which must be observed in order to make the feet effective weapons of defense:

1) The defensive kick must be easy to unleash.
2) The defensive kick must be very fast.
3) The defensive kick must travel to its target in the most expedient manner possible.

Rule One
The primary rule of the Taekwondo defensive kick is that it must be easy to unleash. This is elementally important, for if a kick is complicated or elaborate, it will too complex to actualize and your opponent will no doubt deliver his attack to your body before you can intercept it.

Rule Two
The second rule goes hand-in-hand with the first—and that is your kick must be very fast. The problem with some of the kicks use in demonstration orientated Taekwondo is though the these kick are very flamboyant and pretty to watch, their application is very slow. To this end, those kicks must be left behind in combat if you wish to emerge victorious.

Rule Three
The third and final rule is that the defensive Taekwondo kick must proceed to it target in the most efficient manner possible.

As Taekwondo has evolved over the past five decades, its methods of delivering powerful kicking techniques has become more and more refined. Taekwondo has left behind many of the exaggerated kicking movements, common to the Japanese martial arts, which influenced Taekwondo’s early development. What has emerged are fluid, very rapid, linear kicking techniques seen only in this Korean based martial art. With this evolution, the defensive applications of the Taekwondo kick has increased multifold as the kicks have become much easier to unleash and due to their linear design they are much harder to defend against.

The Taekwondo Forward Side Kick
To come to a better understanding of how the Taekwondo kick has evolved—making it much easer to unleash in offensive and defensive applications, we can view the modern Taekwondo Side Kick.

The modern Taekwondo Side Kick is brought straight up, as if a Front Kick were being launched. Once your leg has reached approximately waist height, your leg is then pivoted at hip level, and the kick is snapped out in Side Kick fashion. The style of Forward Side Kick can be launched from either your rear or forward leg.

The reason it is important to develop the ability to perform a Side Kick in this fashion is that it is extremely fast and can be launched from virtually any standing positioning. It does not require that you bring your rear leg up to the side and then pivot your entire body, alerting your opponent to your intentions before you actually deliver the kick—as is the case of the Traditional Side Kick. Instead, you have alleviated many of the unnecessary components of this kick, making it not only easier to unleash but substantially faster, as well.

The Two Styles of Kicking Defense
Once the basic rules of defensive kicking are understood you can then move on to actually implementing effective defensive kicks. There are type primary methods of defense, the Taekwondo practitioner employees, while utilizing the kick:

1) The Intercepting Kick.
2) The Blocking Kick.

The Intercepting Kick
The Intercepting Kick is Taekwondo first-line of defensive kicking methodology. The Intercepting Kick witness you drive a defensive kick into your opponent before his kicking or punching attack can be fully actualized.

At the most elementary level, Intercepting Kick Defense witnesses you deliver a basic Front Kick, Side Kick, or Roundhouse Kick to an open Vital Strike Point on your opponent as he is in the process of launching an aggressive attack towards you. As targeting is very important with this style of kicking defense, you will want to aim at a location on his body which you will be assured of impacting. Furthermore, you will want to target a location which, once you have made contact with, will cause his attack to immediately stop. The primary target locations for this style of Interceptive Kicking Defense are the knees, the groin, or in the case of sanctioned Taekwondo matches, the solar plexus, or under the chin.

This style of Interceptive Kicking Counter Attack can also be used to intercept the punching assault of your opponent. In this case, you would target a Front Kick at his inner shoulder, just as he is recoiling to punch. With impact, not only will his initial attack be halted but also he will be left open for further counter assault as necessary.

The Intercepting Side Kick
The Intercepting Kick is not limited to debilitating first-line kicking counter attacks. For example, an Interceptive Side Kick delivered to the mid-section of your attacker will instantly stop any assault he is unleashing.

The defensive Intercepting Side Kick can be most rapidly deployed from your Lead Leg. This is especially true when your opponent is launching an offensive kicking technique from his Rear Leg. As his kick rises, you simply deliver a powerful Side Kick to his side, under his arms, and he will be send back, often times to the ground.

The Intercepting Side Kick is also very effective against the punching assault of an attacker. As his punch is launched, you powerfully deliver a mid-level Side Kick to his body. His punching attacking will be intercepted due to the fact that not only is the reach of your leg longer than his arm, but it is additionally substantially more powerful.

The Blocking Kick
The second level of Taekwondo’s defensive kick is the Blocking Kick. This style of defense witnesses you interrupt the kick of your opponent by blocking it with a kick of your own. To achieve this, your kick must be faster then your opponent’s and halt his attack as close to its point of origin as possible. In this way his kick will not have gained the necessary momentum to knock you off balance before you can stop his attack.

The Blocking Side Kick
The Blocking Kick is ideally represented by delivering a low Side Kick to the ankle or shin section of your opponent’s kicking leg as he attempted to unleashing his offensive techniques. This style of defensive kick will immediately interrupt his attack and leave him open to further counter attack.

Follow Up
Once you have intercepted or blocked your opponent attack, with a kicking technique, you must immediately follow up with a secondary counter strike or his assault will continue. The style of secondary attack you will unleash is predominately defined by the type of kicking defense you initially utilized. For example, if you intercepted an assault with a mid-level Side Kick to your opponent’s stomach or side, then you can immediately use your free hands to deliver a Back Fist to his face. If you have block his oncoming kick with a Side Kick to his ankle, you may wish to continue with your kicking defense by immediately retracting your kicking leg and deliver a secondary Side Kick to a higher level on his body.

The most important thing to remember is that your follow up technique must occur instantaneously after your initial defensive technique has successfully intercepted your opponent’s assault. Additionally, your secondary counter attack must be able to travel rapidly—striking your opponent to a debilitating location, thus, keeping the bout from continuing further.

As you now understand, the Taekwondo Kick is much more than simply an offensive weapon. When used properly it cannot only aid you in your self-defense, but it lead you to victory in any physical confrontation.

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