Taekwondo lays a massive emphasis on kicks that are fast, long reaching, and high. In WTF sanctioned competitions, kicking to the head is rewarded with more points, not to mention that the judges will probably score your kicks more often after seeing you are capable of dealing damage and not a pushover.
As flashy and cool as these kicks may seem, sometimes good old fashioned body kicks will get the job done better and land points far more consistently.
Which ones should you use? Both, if possible. However, a Taekwondo fighter should mix and match the ratio of high kicks to body kicks in a manner that suits their needs and the current situation at hand.
Here is a short list comparing the two methods:
- More points- Headkicks will always receive more points than a standard kick to the ribs or the chest.
- Knockout- The possibility of a knockout is comparatively FAR higher than powerful body shots.
- Intimidation- Facing an opponent who regularly throws high kicks can be daunting, especially to inexperienced fighters. This applies to sparring as well as a possible scenario on the streets.
- Diversification- Tossing just body kicks will result in your combinations becoming predictable. Headkicks will cause your opponent to think more and worry about what your next move is.
- Balance issues- Without proper training, a beginner will have problems maintaining balance during a high kick, let alone returning to a proper fighting position afterwards.
- Vulnerability- While in the middle of a high kick, you have little to no options when it comes to protecting yourself. Your supporting leg is wide open to unintentional (or intentional) low kicks. Your head may come closer to the ground, allowing kicks aimed at the body to hit you in the head.
- Consistency- Landing body shots to the chest protector is far more common than landing head shots. On average, you should be able to score more points using this method.
- Speed- The foot with which you were kicking can quickly be dropped right next to your opponent in order to fire another kick in rapid succession.
- Solid base- Your foot remains closer to your center of gravity for the majority of the kicking process, especially the chambering sequence. This means you can pull your foot back faster if something goes wrong.
- Predictability- Throwing almost 100% body kicks will result in an opponent that will know where to protect themselves, as they will not have to worry about their head.
- Little Chance of Knockout- This is self-explanatory. Incredibly powerful blows will be needed to achieve a TKO through the sparring chest protector.
I personally use a ratio of about 3/4 body kicks to 1/4 high kicks, not including when I see an opening for a headkick by chance that I can exploit.