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More Powerful Instep Kicks

Developing powerful kicks is very important in many martial arts and especially in Tae Kwon Do.  Perhaps the most important kicking technique in Tae Kwon Do is the “instep kick” (similar to a “roundhouse kick”).  It is called an instep kick because the striking area is the top of the foot above the instep.  Two of the keys to a powerful instep kick are the transfer of power from the ground up and the delayed release of this power.  Thanks to a technique shown on Pavel’s Martial Power video series Tae Kwon Do students can learn this skill much faster than ever before.


The following is a description of a fast, powerful, and concealed instep kick.  Begin with your right foot back and almost at 90 degrees.  Your left foot is forward pointing almost directly toward the opponent.

Initiate the kick by raising your right knee.  Your right knee MUST travel close to your left knee.  The kicking foot should remain close to the buttocks. This will result in an acute angle at the knee of the kicking leg.  Note that there is no tension pulling the foot toward the buttocks.  It simply moves that way as a result of the forward movement of the knee.

These actions will allow the kicking foot to travel in a straight-line path from the ground toward the target.  As the right knee continues to move forward and upward, the hips and the supporting foot rotate.  The upper leg (or femur) of the kicking leg will angle inward to approximately 45 degrees.  (The angle will be larger if the kick is to the face.)  The last part of the kicking motion is the straightening of the kicking leg.  Usually, the kicking leg never completely straightens.


The problem with most students is that the acute angle formed at the knee of the kicking leg is either never formed (due to excessive tension) or is lost too early in the technique (by an anxiousness to extend the foot and complete the kick).  This results in a weak kick and premature leg fatigue.


Use the drill shown on Pavel’s Martial Power video with a slight modification specific to this kick.  Raise the kicking leg and bend the knee.  The lower part of the leg should form an angle of approximately 45 degrees.  Rotate the supporting foot so that it is pointing well away from the opponent.  (This is essential to protect the knee of the supporting leg.)

Have a partner hold a large kicking pad against his chest.  Place the knee of the kicking leg against the pad and push.  No, don’t push, KICK!  Learning to kick the pad by using the rotation of the hips or hip drive teaches the student how to correctly do many things.

1.                   Learning to kick without using the foot teaches the proper delayed release of the angle at the knee.

2.                   Beginning the kick with the knee raised gives the student immediate feedback about the connection between the ground and the target.

3.                   The student will find the function of the “core”.  Leaning back will not help generate power.  Power must be transferred through the core.

4.                   It is impossible to generate any force with this technique without properly using the hips to generate the “snap” that is essential to powerful kicks.  The student will feel that the tensing of the glutes and the upward rotation of the hips translates into power.


Many years and thousands of words have been expended trying to teach better kicking techniques.  This simple drill will give immediate and long lasting improvements to your students’ skills.  Instead of describing the required actions the student will feel it, learn it, and remember it.


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