Are Flying Kicks Any Good?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: karate
29 Jan 2008


Anyone who has known me for a long time, has heard me poke fun at flying kicks. I had to learn how to do various flying kicks to get my first degree black belt but I have seldom had use one in a fight. I had lots of opportunity to fight for the couple of years I was a bouncer at a bar.


Ok… I can think of one time when a flying kick worked, I was chasing a couple of guys down the street that had thrown something into the bar… startled I ran out and saw two guys running away. I was young and gave chase. They were just trying to get away in a car they had just opened and I jumped the last few feet to smash the car door (with a flying front stomp kick) into the driver. That caught his attention and he had to explain himself. 


Mostly though, I have ridiculed flying kicks because one cannot change direction in the air (a real disadvantage in a fight). Here is the highest flying side kick I could find on the web executed by a William Fincher. :)

Picture from:



I use to enjoy finding a sparring partner that would try to employ flying kicks as these were the easiest guys to beat! All you had to do is step aside and hit him as he flew by! The only way the guy could hit you is if you just stood there for him. When someone is in the air, they cannot change directions or speed, so unless you are fighting a bird, you can hit them every time. 


I found one exception on youtube where a policeman was watching negotiators trying to calm a guy down that was holding a woman with a knife and then proactively flew in to save the day! You’ve got to watch this video.



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I can now say I can see how a flying kick could be useful in a fight! I think the officer did the right thing because the legs are long enough to be fairly safe. If I had to fight a guy with a knife I would probably rear-kick the guy into oblivion without much regard for the knife because it would be too far away to hit a really vital area (unlike my rear-kick).


I think every tool in your bag of tricks has a time and place where they could be effective. I suppose I was resisting the hoards that thought the flying Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris kicks they saw in the movies would really work. My hats off to the brave police man in this video.

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2 Responses to “Are Flying Kicks Any Good?”

  1. David Hays Says:


    Due to the fact that you and I have the same background, I usually agree with you 95% of the time. And I do agree with your comment that “When someone is in the air, they cannot change directions or speed”. However, I do think that a defensive, jump away, spinning rear kick is very effective against a hard charging opponent in a sport sparring match. As you know I have used this technique many times with great success. You have two examples of this on your Pix page (thanks). And although the “jump away, defensive spinning rear kick is not technically a “Flying kick”, you are in the air and cannot change directions or speed.

    I do want to clarify my comment by saying I would not consider the above mentioned kick a sound street move. When defending yourself on the street you need to stay grounded, basic, fast and effective.

    Best regards,

    David Hays

    PS, I miss the days of you bouncing, you always had great (real life) self defense examples to share.

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Dave,

    Good points and yes the defensive jump spinning rear kick is a formidable kick because the opponent had committed themselves. I watched lots of YouTube video of Korean flying kicks for this post and I cannot see the worth of a running, flying kick unless the opponent is frozen in fear. But I do grant you (not that I am a final arbitrator) that there are many instances where one would work well. :)

    I remember getting into a fight at the bar after having a couple of free beers, with a couple of guys… I fought the biggest guy with a right snap kick, left wheel kick and right jump spinning heel kick (that missed) and wound up on my butt!.., I think the beer may have had more to do with that but I then transitioned into straight line techniques and had no issue after that.

    The is the thing about the school we went to that I liked… it was more about how to transition if a fight was not going your way then depend on everything being perfect!

    Glad to post your pics… it adds to the breadth of the site. :)

    John W. Zimmer