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Learn Martial Arts Anatomy 

Study the basic principles of martial arts anatomy on this page.

Low Side Kick

The Low Side Kick is executed by pulling the toes back (dorsiflexion) and inverting the ankle in order to strike with the heel and blade of the foot. By bending the supporting knee, pivoting the grounded foot, and adjusting the hip to point the toes slightly downward, you can deliver a devastating blow to the opponent's knee, potentially resulting in a complete break of the knee.

For maximum power, start with the highest chamber by lifting the kicking knee up into the chest. Incorporate the use of the trunk muscles and extend the kick in a downward motion as it leaves the chamber.

In this photo, you will see that my hands are in a very relaxed position at my hips in order to focus on the motor dynamics of the kick alone.

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Roundhouse Kick

Ahhh, the Roundhouse Kick... Out of all the kicks, this one seems to be the most popular. Although, because of its name, many non-practitioners mistakenly believe that there is necessarily "jumping" or "spinning" involved in this kick. And while there are more advanced kicks, such as the "jump-spinning roundhouse kick," the basic roundhouse kick does not include jumping or spinning.

Unlike the side kick, which is executed with dorsiflexion, the roundhouse kick is executed with plantar flexion. By pointing the toes forward, and rotating the femur (thigh bone) in the pelvic socket (hip), you can launch the leg and foot in a horizontal path, through the air, and into the target. I like to compare the roundhouse kick to the swinging of a bat.

For maximum power, be sure to pivot the grounded foot 180°, laterally (away from body). At the end of the kick, the point of impact should be at the instep of the foot.

The roundhouse kick may be thrown at high, middle, and low levels. Although, most traditional styles do not kick above the waist for fear of an opponent grabbing one's leg. But I'm sure we've all seen professional fighters get taken by surprise and knocked out from high kicks to the head. It works. You just have to know when to use it...

The Karate Front Kick

The Karate Front Kick is typically executed using the ball of the foot, but may also be thrown using the instep or the heel (thrust kick).

In this photo, I am using the ball of my foot as the point of impact.

In order to kick with the ball of the foot, the 90° angle of the ankle joint must be straightened to 180° through plantar flexion, and then the toes must be pulled back as far as anatomically possible. After lifting the kicking knee into chamber position, the hip, leg, and foot may be launched perpendicular to the chest.

The Front Kick may be thrown at a high, middle, or low level.

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Front Thrust Kick

This kick doesn't need much of an explanation. The photo alone is enough to demonstrate just how devastating the kick can be when landed.

The Front Thrust Kick is performed by dorsiflexion (pulling toes back) and pelvic thrust.

After lifting the knee into chamber position, pivot the grounded foot 45° laterally, then launch the heel straight-out into the opponents head or body.

The Horse Stance

The Horse Stance is both one of the most powerful stances of all, yet also one of the most neglected. It is a very natural stance which people rely on in their daily lives without even realizing. When you go to sit down, when you pick something up from the floor, when you jump, etc...

This ancient stance is inseparable from traditional martial arts and it has several functions. In addition to the most obvious benefit, which is leg and glute strength, the horse stance gives us the ability to be quick on our feet, dodge strikes, jump high, improve balance, recover from kicks, and resist a takedown.

One of the main reasons why traditional stances such as these have been neglected with the inception of the MMA phenomenon is because it has been regarded as virtually inapplicable to combat. But this opinion is very far from truth.

Not a single experienced martial artist is going to simply drop into a horse stance the minute they are attacked by an enemy. This is not the combative function of the horse stance. As I have said before, the horse stance is used by all of us in our daily lives. However, the deceptive part is that just as it remains largely unnoticed in normal behavior, it also remains unnoticed in combat. The reason is because it is a transient stance. Which is to say that it usually manifests itself in-between various stances, strikes, blocks, and evasive maneuvers. Even boxers use the horse stance when they are rolling, for example. And those who practice grappling arts such as Wrestling, Judo, and Jiu Jitsu always fall directly into a horse stance when confronted with an offensive takedown.

Some of you may be wondering what is the difference between the horse stance and a squat. I would respond to such a question by simply asserting that the squat is typically executed by repeatedly bending and straightening the knee in a continuous motion, with very short intervals. The horse stance, on the other hand, is an uninterrupted flexion of the knee joint for extended periods of time and then applied to the context of martial techniques.

One thing is for sure. People are often shocked when they witness the level of control that I exercise over my legs when kicking, moving, and jumping. And I have the horse stance to thank for it all.

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