List of Martial Arts Kicks

Practicing Tae Kwon Do
A woman performing a martial arts kick. (Image: Gerville Hall/iStock/Getty Images)

Kicking differentiates the martial arts from other styles of fighting. The world of martial arts has many different types of kicks. There are spinning, jumping and flying kicks. Some kicks strike an attacker in the shins, and others strike him in the head. Before attempting more challenging kicking techniques, it is a good idea to understand the basic kicks.

Front-Snap Kick

The front-snap kick, often simply referred to as a front kick, is widely used in the martial arts. To execute this kick, raise your knee and point it at your target. Extend your leg and quickly kick the target with the ball of your foot. Retract your leg after kicking the target. The kick is performed in a snapping motion. A prime target for the front-snap kick is an opponent's solar plexus. You can also kick an attacker in the groin by using the instep of your foot while executing this technique. The front-snap kick is often used to set an opponent up for additional kicks or punches.

Side Kick

The side kick is another popular kick in the martial arts. It is often taught in Korean and Japanese styles. Turn your body sideways to your target to perform the side kick. Lift your knee and kick straight out to your side with the bottom of your heel. Keep your kicking foot approximately parallel to the floor. You can perform the side kick in a snapping or strong, thrusting motion. You can effectively stop an oncoming attack by driving your side kick into an opponent's midsection. If you are flexible enough, you can deliver a side kick to an opponent's head. Sometimes the outside edge of the foot is used to hit a target when executing a side kick.

Crescent Kick

The crescent kick can be used as an offensive or defensive maneuver. To perform the crescent kick, lift your left knee up in front of you. Kick with your left foot in a circular, clockwise motion. Hit a target with the inside edge of your left foot. If you execute a crescent kick with your right foot, then kick in a counterclockwise direction. Hit a target with the inside edge of your right foot. A prime target for the crescent kick is an opponent's head. Defensively, you can use a crescent kick to block an oncoming attack. For example, if an attacker thrusts a stick at you, you can knock the weapon to the side by kicking the attacker's hand.

Reverse-Crescent Kick

The reverse-crescent kick is just the opposite of the crescent kick. Raise your left knee in front of you. This time, kick with your left foot in a counterclockwise motion. Hit the target with the outside edge of your left foot. On the right side, kick in a clockwise motion and hit with the outside edge of your right foot. The reverse-crescent kick is typically delivered to an opponent's head. This is a fast, powerful technique that can be difficult to block. Your opponent may think it is going in one direction, when suddenly it hits her on the side of the head from the other direction. Like the crescent kick, the reverse-crescent kick can also be used to block oncoming attacks.

Roundhouse Kick

The roundhouse kick is visually impressive. Stand positioned with your left shoulder toward your opponent. Your right knee comes up and out to the side and you pivot on your left foot. Snap your right foot out and strike with your right foot. Refold your right leg and pivot back to your initial stance with your left shoulder facing the opponent.

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