Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Taekwondo Sidekick

 The Taekwondo sidekick is among the most useful kicks in any situation. It is an excellent defensive kick and a devastating offensive kick. The sidekick was often demonstrated by Bruce Lee, who showed the true power a person could generate from this simple looking thrust of the leg.

Defensive Capabilities and Uses

1.    A Counter to "Bum-Rushing"- This is the most commonly taught application of the sidekick. An inexperienced, reckless, or substance-impaired fighter will often charge directly at the target at full sprinting speed. To reach full sprinting speed, both knees have to face the target and usually the arms will be pumping up and down to reach a higher momentum.  
                                                   Why is this important?
     If both knees are facing you, 90% of the time, it means that their chest is, too. The chest provides a large, open target with numerous weak spots, especially the solar plexus. This is partially why most martial arts take up a stance in which the chest is facing away at an angle, or can be moved to an angle to avoid direct blows. If the arms are pumping up and down, your opponent is not protecting his chest or his face, but the up and down motion of his elbows will be guarding the ribs, putting a roundkick out of the question.  A sidekick to the unprotected chest will not only potentially knock the breath out of your opponent, but also create distance.  If you are heavier than your opponent, your kick will send them a few extra feet in the other direction. On the other side of the coin, if you weigh less, you will most likely move back a few feet, creating distance, while still having hit them with n effective and painful strike.

            The Flying or Jumping Variation of the Sidekick can be used offensively and defensively.

2. Counterfighting in Sparring

       In any form of sport, maintaining stability and balance is key. While we practice balance with one leg in the air in Taekwondo, some of this training can go out the window in a heated sparring session. Always maintain good balance in a sparring session...and exploit your opponent's lack of balance.One of the best times to catch your opponent off-balance is after a missed, full power kick. Usually, this kick will go too far over their body and they will land in a compromised position. The best time to strike is anywhere from when the kick misses you to right before they touch the ground.  
                                       How does this tie in to the sidekick?
      While seeing an opponent off balance might lead to the simple conclusion that one can simply shove them over, this is not allowed in most forms of sparring, regardless of the kind of martial art. Even if it were allowed, running up to shove your opponent is a dangerous and tactically unsound choice (as well as not being a nice thing to do in a friendly match). Moving in to shove your opponent results in you moving out of your fighting stance from which you can throw your arsenal of kicks and punches, while the opponent can still potentially turn into a spinning roundkick, backkick, hookkick, even a hook punch or backfist. This is where you can use the sidekick. A turned opponent exposes his ribs and upper leg. The head is also exposed, but is not generally in an ideal position for a sidekick. A low sidekick to the upper thigh will definitely slow down your opponent's kicks, footwork, and reduce their punching power(this is a kickboxing scenario). In a situation more oriented towards Olympic-style sparring, a sidekick to a partially turned opponent's ribs, especially lower ribs can:

A. Score points in a point sparring match
B. Cause large amounts of pain if applied to the floating ribs (not recommended for a sparring match)
C. Result in the same effect of shoving someone over, but from a distance and from the safety of your fighting stance (plus extra points for the knockdown!)

Stay tuned for a post detailing the many offensive uses of the sidekick!

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