Many of you that have learned karate remember the side kick? In sparring you can keep someone off of you but the kick would mostly encounter elbows and not be truly effective. Has anyone won lots of matches or fights with the side kick? Well yes… have you heard of Joe Lewis? He was famous for his strong, lightening fast, side kick.
The video I found below is of Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris in a point karate match. You will notice they only cared about the first point and do not really cover up much past the clash. Both Joe and Chuck were good at side kicks. I will speak about the mechanics of the side kick and then how to use this kick effectively for self-defense.
You probably had a hard time seeing the kick start as Joe was great at initial movement (where Tracy’s was introduced to the concept). In sport karate the side kick is thrown above the hips (or if you like to fight dirty – you can aim for the hips and then say you are sorry). The point is while the side kick will hurt, it generally will not stop an attacker.
You can throw the side kick from the front or back foot, and use a shuffle or slip (the slip side kick uses initial movement). In my tournament career I have mostly used the front leg slip kick. What about the stricking surface?
Generally most styles teach to strike with the side of the foot directly into the shin, knee, thigh or side. I like the striking targets and think the side of the foot has its place but I want to tell you a way to double the power of your side kick! Here is a quick video of the mechanics of the side kick.
First off if you throw the kick with the side of your foot and hit the knee, you are putting about 3 – 4 square inches of striking area to the knee. Ouch! That will hurt and in the case of this target (the knee cap) it will probably be enough to break the knee and stop the attacker from following. But what if you miss and kick the shin or thigh? The side kick will probably hurt but by no means stop the attacker.
What I like to do (and I would like to thank my friend Terry Crook for being the first to take my accidental strikes – and making me realize the potential) is to use the bottom of my foot and aim about three inches over to hit with my heel! I throw the side kick the same as I would normally but I just adjust the striking surface of my foot.
What this does (assuming my aim is good) is to concentrate the power of my kick (and body weight) into about one square inch (instead of three to four). When I saw how this affected my sparring partner when I was a green or brown belt – I realized that if one of these concentrated side kicks to the thigh could stop him – they could stop anyone!
The danger of using the heel instead of the side of your foot is you can miss the kick easier. So if you decide to try this kick – you will have to practice on the bag (too dangerous to try on a persons knee or shin).
So I do think the side kick can be a very effective kick to use in self-defense if the target is the knee-cap or shin. If you want to double the power (at least) of this kick for some real stopping power, you might want to consider learning how to adjust your aim and throw this bone crushing side kick with your heal.
If you like this post please consider signing up for my RSS feed.