Under: karate
12 Jun 2009

 

There have been many great fighters and fighting arts that use similar moves but throw them differently. Kung Fu kicks look different than Tae Kwon Do and Muay Thai kicks look different than Karate kicks. Which way of throwing a kick is best?

 

What am I talking about? Well one example I am going to talk about is a wheel kick, also known as a round house kick. There are significant differences from style to style on how to throw this kick. I’ll talk about some of the rationals and what you have to consider when throwing a wheel kick. Here is one way to throw the round house kick from Bas Rutten.

 

 

 

That was a good demonstration of a MMA or Muay Thai type of round house kick. Notice that he adopted a wide stance so he could increase the power of his kicks. In MMA or kick boxing this would work ok because there are no groin shots. The speed of the kick was fine but on the down side he might not connect because of moving the front leg telegraphs the kick.

 

Now in karate the focus is not so much on power because kicks are inherently powerful but rather on connecting the kick by moving as little as possible. One can throw the wheel kick from a narrow straight line stance by pivoting on the ball of your foot and launching the kick from the snapping knee (forward or from an angle). Here is an example of Bill (Superfoot) Wallace throwing some kicks.

 

 

Now you can see how some karate round house kicks can work but did you notice there was no big wind up before throwing the kick to get extra power? Bill Wallace stated [from his front leg] that he could throw either a side, hook or round house kick from the same position?

 



He also thought that timing and distance were more important than speed. Kenpo has a wheel kick that from the rear leg is hard to figure out because it starts by bringing up your rear knee. From the knee you can throw a snap kick, side kick, wheel kick or heel hook kick.

 

Now speed is important but if you are relaxed and snap your kick well – you will have plenty of power. Distance is how far away you attempt to throw the moves from… by moving around you can fake out your opponent into a bad position and then launch your kick!

 

Power will come the MMA way just fine but you can generate almost as much power the karate way. Let me explain – in karate, you should always punch or kick through your opponent for maximum power. I used to fade back with my right rear leg while moving around and when my opponent would move forward – snap my wheel kick into his side (because he did not realize the distance had shortened.

 

Here is another view of classic MMA vs. karate in the ring: Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida fighting for the Light Heavy Weight Belt. This fight illustrates my points of how karate and MMA kicks differ. Mostly you will see Machida throwing the kicks as he was fighting from the outside. Evans did not have an answer for the kicks or the distance as he was used to the MMA style of closer kicks.

 

 I don’t think there is a “best” way of throwing kicks by rather different applications based on rules and situations. I hope you have enjoyed these views of ways you can develop power, speed, watch your distance and connect by using karate or MMA style of kicks!

 

 

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17 Responses to “Wheel or Roundhouse Kick! Power, Speed, Distance & Connecting!”

  1. Bob Patterson Says:

    I think it comes down to a little more speed vs. a little more power. I have a total of five years in tae kwon do and I am trained to kick the karate ball of foot way. I now find myself in a style of kung fu that pivots on the heel (toe out). So it’s almost like the Bas step.

    There are reasons Praying Mantis kicks the way it does. One has to do with the stance and how it naturally protects the groin. Still, compared to tae kwon do, the kicks are much slower and lower in my opinion.

    As for power, well, I’m not a big guy and I can generate a lot of shocky power kicking through a target the karate/tae kwon do way. I can also break some serious wood and I know some masters that are deadly.

    It may also have to do with the style of the fighter. If you are as big as Bas you can stand their and chop away as you take shots. I’m a small guy and can’t afford that luxury.

    Not saying one is better than the other. What I think is it depends on the fighter and the situation.

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    I think you are right Bob. There is a kick that makes sense for every situation… and it might not be the way we were taught! That is the beauty of martial arts evolving.

  3. Martial Arts News 6.14.09 « Striking Thoughts Says:

    […] Zimmer has a nice post up about round kick variations. Kung Fu kicks look different than Tae Kwon Do and Muay Thai kicks look different than Karate […]

  4. Urban Samurai Says:

    From my point of view I prefer the Bill Wallace style of kicking. As I’ve mentioned on my blog, Superfoot is a hero of mine and I learned a lot of him about kicking and especially kicking of the front foot. In terms of sparring there is no substitute for fast front leg kicking; rear leg kicks, unless they are spinning kicks, just don’t cut it.

    In terms of self defense I’d be more inclined to use the MMA/Thai style leg kick as we seen in the first video, as it has more power and can probably inflict more damage, which is ideal if you want to drop an opponent straight away.

    Different situations will warrant different kicks and further to that, different people will have different preferences as well. As I’ve stated here before, I wouldn’t be averse to using a front leg kick in a self defense situation. If you have the speed, there is no reason not to use it.

    Great post, John.

  5. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Neil,
    .
    I love the front leg although in MMA I do not see it much. I like to alter the front side kick to use just the heel. That involves offsetting the targeting a bit but works well once one gets used to it. I find my already powerful side kick doubles or triples in power as it is all concentrated into about the one square inch of my heel (instead of the whole side of the foot).
    .
    Yep rear legs kicks are harder to throw in karate style but I have had some success by being sneaky… for instance I would look where I am kicking for a while (the guy things I am telegraphing my moves) and then look at the guy’s groin – wheel kick the face (while he is dropping his blocks to the groin)! Or throw a jab-right cross combo – while the cross is in his face – follow up with a rear leg wheel kick to the face. The vast majority of kicks have been off the front leg though.
    .
    There are defiantly times to use power kicks… like when you just want to break whatever is put in front of you… I’ve had days when I’ve gone back to my style’s Japanese roots and thrown a powerful Kick-Punch combo no matter what they did and if they did not get out of the way – they went down fast… :)

  6. Urban Samurai Says:

    I get what you’re saying about the side kick and hitting only with the heel. I do this as well, especially when I’m kicking towards my opponents mid-section. This is probably my favorite kick. I use it a lot and have great success with it. I find it especially useful when an opponent moves in on me. I just lean back and throw the kick at their abdomen. It’s almost delicate in a way, though still quite powerful. The guy’s at my club are always very wary of my left leg when sparring because they can never defend against it. Thanks Superfoot!

  7. Ikigai Says:

    I’ve always enjoyed Bas’s videos. He is a very straight forward teacher and always tries to practice what he preaches. That shot he gave his opponent at the end was a monster.

    That being said the exposure of the groin does really concern me. I’ve sparred against people who can get groin shots in very quickly, even without the help of opening up the hips.

  8. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Matthew,
    .
    The groin shot worries me too as I used to workout with a guy that would scoop kick me whenever I threw a kick over my waist. It got to the point I would not kick much when I sparred him. :)

  9. Markstraining.com Says:

    I think learning as many variations as possible of the kick is the best way to achieve a greater understanding of what works and what does not work. For instance, the step and pivot forward with the front foot before throwing the kick as in muay thai may be needed in order to close the distance and for this reason will hold advantages even though it can be seen as a form of telegraphing.

  10. Urban Samurai Says:

    There are many variations on technique. I think the key is finding the ones you are most comfortable doing and the ones that you can use most effectively. For instance I agree that some kicks can be god for closing distance but if you are not comfortable with doing that kick are are just no good at it there is no point in doing it. You just end up leaving yourself open through bad execution. If you are good at certain kicks I believe you can make them work for you in most situations without having to rely on ones that you are just not as good at.

  11. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Matthew, Mark, and Neil,
    .
    Thanks guys for your combined wisdom. There is a lot that one has to consider when picking the type of kick. I find my self using situational kicks – meaning depending on what the guy is open for – is the attack I’ll launch.

  12. David Hays Says:

    What I find interesting about Bas Rutten’s comment regarding not pivoting on the ball of your foot is this; watch the video, he does pivot on the ball of his foot and he lands the kick…hmmm.

    I do like his take on pre-kick positioning and target focus.

  13. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Yep – more than one way to skin a cat! (sorry to the cat lovers out there) :)

  14. BOB Says:

    Im sorry but i need to clarify a few things here firts of all bas ruttens kick is the most effective kick you can make its not a muay thai kick and there’s no such thing as an mma kick!cro cop does it the same way as you can see from their fights. if superfoot wallace were to fight bas rutten bas would destroy him end of story. they actually meaured the force of bas’s kick against other style kicks on a crash test dummy an bass’s kicks were a lot more powerful than anyone else’s, powerful enough to kill someone. and this bs about groin shots.. look your also open to inside leg kicks an bas ould defen both the same way. you think he telegraphs? even if you saw the foot movement and blocked the kick bas woul break your arm dunce

  15. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Bob,

    I let the name calling go as perhaps you don’t understand my rules about personal attacks. Make your argument on its merits and not name calling.

    Addressing your points, Bas Rutten has a powerful kick… not sure if it is the most or not.

    MMA uses Muay Thai kicks often times and while it is not a style per se now, I think you understand what I am talking about?

    I guess you favor Bas Rutten over Wallace? So what? Are you saying that Bas Rutten would have beat Wallace if they were both in their prime? Again, So what? You are entitled to your opinion… I’ve not really thought about it… both guys are tough.

    Groin shots are no big deal? How does getting kick inside the thigh compare to getting kick in the nuts? If it was not big deal it would not be an illegal move in MMA and kick boxing.

    I agree that power is one component in a fight but if you telegraph (meaning give the move away in the very beginning so the other guy has time to react), the other guy has time to cover.

    You statement about Bas Rutten would break my arm is interesting. Are you saying that Bas Rutten has broken the arm or rib or whatever of every opponent that has covered? I would rather use distance to just not be on the receiving end of a bomb or step inside of the move.

    Anyway Bob, I do appreciate your opinion and understand martial artists do things differently, each thinking their way is the best… and I have no issue with that. Just attack the position/technique and we will have a conversation. Any more personal attacks and I’ll just delete them.

  16. BOB Says:

    sorry about that. anyway superfoot wallace would get k0’d by bas rutten in mma, k1 or thai boxing. the succes of superfoot wallace relies on the silly rules of full contact such as no low kicks (look at him he’s completely sideways) no foot catching and no takedowns. he can do some cool-looking kicks but not many of them are practical. i know what kicks are powerful and useful (in a sparring match anyway) ive done muay thai, karate and full contact so im not making stuff up. the only kicks i use are bas rutten roundhouse and sometimes front kicks dont bother with the rest.

  17. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Bob, I agree with your logic that the high kicks would not work in the modern MMA rules. Back in the day it was thought that leg kicks were too dangerous even though IKKA matches had some. Ground work was not thought to be very effective. What a difference a few decades make!