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Challenging the Masters part 8: Kick with the instep, ball, shin or blade?

Updated: May 4




Sheesh, what is with me and all of the kicking topics? Oh well, even though I enjoy punching more than kicking, I am going to jump all over this anyhow. I have always wondered why it is that there are so many arguments over what part of the foot you are supposed to kick with. Now, I am going to be talking about the roundhouse kick, and the side kicks, because they are the ones that seems to cause the most controversy. In the many different schools, and in many different systems, there is a lot of disagreement about this. I figure that I am going to start from the top, and see where we end up.


With the side kick, there are really only two options: The heel or the blade (edge) of the foot. Some Korean systems like Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do kick with the edge of the foot, as do some traditional karate systems. I don't get it at all. Kicking with the edge of the foot can be very dangerous to your foot and ankle. If you do not hit the target at the right angle you can easily sprain or break your ankle. Think about how the foot rolls in the ankle joint. I don't know about you guys, but in the middle of a fight is about the worst time I can think of to injure yourself.


Now, with the heel seems to be a much better option. While it may be a smaller target, it is MUCH safer. Not to mention the fact that the heel is the hardest bone in the human body. It just makes way more sense to me that we use our hardest weapons in a fight. I have seen a lot of sparring matches and real fights. And probably 80% of the broken ribs I have seen have come by way of side kicks with the heel. If you don't think that broken ribs hurt, ask Oscar De la Hoya about his fight with Bernard Hopkins. I am sure that he would be more than glad to fill you in.


Now the roundhouse kick gets a little tricky. Because you can kick with the ball of the foot, the instep, or the shin. And there are actually a number of good reasons why you should use each particular body part. As far as most martial arts go, the roundhouse is usually done with the instep as the main striking surface. Why? Because you can maintain a safe distance from an attacker and still inflict a good deal of damage to whatever it is you strike. If you have ever seen a roundhouse kick, it is likely, most likely actually, that it was done with the instep of the foot.


Now using the ball of the foot is another valid option. If you are using the ball of the foot to strike with, I am sure that you can use the kick a lot more precisely. You can stick the ball of the foot easily between someone's guard and still do a lot of damage. If you are using the kick as a setup, you will be able to follow with punches a lot more easily than with the instep. Kicking with the ball of the foot allows you to "stick and move" a lot more easily because you have not committed too much of you weight into the kick. I think that if you are looking to run for it after you have struck the person(always a wise idea in Anthony's book) you may want to strike with the ball of the foot, and then........run like a son of a gun. :)


Now, kicking with the shin is another matter. In Muay Thai(kickboxing from Thailand ) Pradal Sarey, Lethwei. Kyokushin, Enshin, and a couple of other karate styles, they strike with their shins. The reasoning is simple. It is a larger, harder bone than the ones in your feet. You can do a great deal of damage to a person with your shins. If you don't think so. Let someone kick you with their foot, and then kick with the same force using their shin. I guarantee that you will feel the difference. And you won't like it. The one thing that I do not like about the shin kick is that it requires you to be a lot closer to your opponent. While there is a great deal of power in the shin kick, you have to commit all of your body weight, and so follow up with hands is a lot more difficult. Also, if you miss, the momentum tends to spin you all the way around, 360 degrees. While some are proponents of the shin kick for power, I have always been one to rely on the ability to move around while striking. In Muay thai, the fighters tend to be more stationary, making the shin kicks easier to throw, and to land.


Fact is that all of these striking surfaces have merit. Which one you use should depend on your particular strengths and weaknesses. If you like to stick and move, then using the ball of the foot may be best for you. If you like to angle away from your opponent, strike, then finish with your hands, you may like kicking with the instep. If you have strong legs, or are larger, blasting with the shin may be your best bet. Well, that is all I am going to post about this. I hear the ice cream man coming down the street, and I am going to outrun some 7 years olds so I can be first in line. Later folks!

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