Karate Kick Tutorial! List of 7 Kick Names!


I would add some minor tweaking to his technique.

One such note is on the front kick where the foot is brought up parallel to the floor and then extends into the target.  Another is on the round kick, where we generally pull  back the foot and toes to make contact with the ball of the kicking foot, not the instep (except in the case of low kicks).

Also, please pay particular attention to the pivoting on the ball of the foot of the standing leg as the round and side kicks are delivered.  Failure to pivot, when combined with a full hip rotation, may damage the standing knee as well as limit follow-through.

Basic Kicks to know

  • Front kick - ball of foot
  • Front kick - heel
  • Round kick
  • Knee joint kick
  • Knee kick
  • Side kick
  • Back kick
  • Groin kick
  • Hook kick
  • Crescent kick (inward and outward)

Unless otherwise indicated, all kicks should be practiced from a ready position (yoi), thumbs in belt, feet parallel in a high stance approximately shoulders' distance apart, equally weighted. Start with the right. Kiai on 10.


Practitioner Note: The kicking examples below are not necessarily by goju practitioners. We've shown these particular variations because they are generally representative of how this instructor also teaches them. Differences can be learned and practiced once the basic technique is mastered.

Front Kick (Mae Geri)

karate kick foot position ball front kick
karate kick


Beginning in ready position, bring knee belt high center line.  Flex foot back toward knee and pull back toes so sole of foot is parallel to floor.

Foot extends as the lower leg extends to remain parallel to floor, with ball of foot extending into target with toes pulled back so you don't break them.

Hip motion should be smooth and coordinated to extend forward as the leg extends, fully reaching its forward position at point of contact just above the opponent's belt at center line.

Foot should be retracted after kicking and set down in original position.

Maintain balance.  Remain upright.  Avoid dipping head or bending forward when kicking.


Note: Forget the hand positions shown in video below. Spreading arms will only develop bad habits. Keep thumbs in belt. Also practice with hands in front on center line as if ready for kumite. Don't let the arms open during the kick.

Basic Karate Kicks - Maegeri

Front Heel Kick

karate kick


Forward kick requiring full extension of leg, making contact with bottom of heel.  The kick travels in an arc that continues through the opponent with an uprooting fashion.  Take care to make it a thrust kick.  Feel like you're shooting water through your leg and heel into opponent.

In application this kick will generally be from the back leg for greater thrust and power.

This is not a snapping kick.  Nevertheless the foot after kicking must be pulled back and set down in same position.  It is used/practiced in multiple ways.

1. Front kick to mid-section or higher.  Hip thrust is crucial for penetration.

2. Downward (stomping kick) performed by raising knee to center line, then kicking downward with heel to a fallen opponent, or toward a shin or foot on an upright one.

3. Into knee (generally inner) thrusting into and through (4-6") target.


Side Kick

karate kick


Practice from a sanchin stance with the intended standing leg forward.  Bring the rear leg forward.  Kicking knee/heel come in straight line toward target.

Hip rolls, aligning hip with target. Standing foot should be pointing in opposite direction of kick for balance. Kick extends toward target, thrusting and locking outward. Imagine feeling like a garden hose and water shoots outward into opponent upon impact. Retract kick and set down.

There are multiple ways to perform this kick.  Find the one that works best for you. Options include a) lining up hip before lifting knee; b) bringing knee up as you roll hip, then extend; or c) kick rear foot straight to target (knee, hip, standing foot aligned), rolling the hip and extending just before the kick reaches its target.

Hand position is important. Do not drop hands. Hand on kicking side extends out and down across kicking leg. Back hand stays high near face to protect.

Point of impact is the heel on edge or bottom of foot.

Practice various ways of closing distance for kumite: 1) step behind from a side stance, lining up hip with target; 2) slide or long-stepping with front foot then kicking off rear foot as above; 3) bringing back leg next to/replacing front leg in side stance in a skipping motion (think Bill "Superfoot" Wallace).


How to Side Kick - Tips for Power and Balance

Round Kick (Mawashi Geri)

karate side kick
karate round kick


Round kick, sometimes called roundhouse.  Bring kicking knee high toward target. Try to get kicking foot high, too, so leg is parallel to ground.  Rotate hips away from opponent as the kick moves in an arc attacking from the side of opponent (or if he turns).

In goju foot is pulled back and toes retracted.  Point of impact is ball of foot.  Retract leg after kicking.

Alternative application is with shin or instep, usually to thigh, head or body.

Basic practice is from a ready (parallel) stance. Pivot standing foot away from target. Bring kicking foot up and arc kick toward center line. Retract leg. Return to ready position.  Alternate legs.

Basic Karate Kicks - Mawashigeri

Back Kick

karate back kick


Typically applied as a spin kick. Stand in left foot foward fighting stance (sanchin, cat-foot, or equal weighted). Rotate body clockwise, dropping weight onto front leg as you turn back to opponent.  Head should turn as well.  Kick is launched when you can just see opponent out of the corner of eye.  If you can see with full eye or both, you will end up with a side kick (over-rotation).

Hip/back point to target. Lift knee. Extend kick in a thrust to/through target (6"). Foot points toward floor at impact and throughout. Point of contact is bottom of heel. Pull kick back as you turn to face opponent and set down for another technique.

Reverse for both sides.  Practice both sides equally.

Groin Kick

karate groin kick


Practice from ready position. Knee lifts center line but not as high as front kick. Point foot and toes. Bring foot up beneath groin, hitting with instep (if you're too close, you can use shin). Snapping kick.  Think of driving the testicles upward into the groin from below.  Pull back. Set down. Alternate sides.

Try to remain upright. Speed matters more than power. Hip extension not required to be effective.

Knee Joint Kick (Kansetsu Geri)

karate kick
karate kick


Knee joint kick with the knife-edge of foot.  Called both kansetsu geri and sokotu geri.

Foot position: Big toe pulled back.  Rest of toes pulled down.  Flex foot back toward knee and turn on side. Kick is with edge of foot.  Contact is with edge from heel to the bony protrusion on the side of foot.

DO NOT kick with front part of foot side lest you break it on knee.

In application this is a snapping kick, usually practiced at 45 degrees to front.  Hip rolls slightly.

Alternative action is to kick like a side kick, thrusting through the knee with the heel/bottom of foot, with full hip rotation in the process.  Think of it in full contact as a stamping kick with the heel kicking down and through (about 4-6").

The point of contact for the knee joint kick is about 3" above either the inside or outside of the knee.


Please note that the foot position in the lower picture is NOT CORRECT for goju practice, for it is smaller toes up like a side kick instead of down.

Knee Kick

karate knee kick


This kick is practiced from a ready position.  Bring the knee up to front at belt height.  Hands simultaneously pull downward to outside of kicking leg (as if pulling opponent forward to kick them with knee).

Alternate sides to count of 10. Kiai on 10th kick.


Hook Kick


This kick is practiced from a high fighting stance.  Bring the knee up at about a 45 degree angle.  Kick hooks in an arc striking from the side.  For power hips rotate on impact in direction of kick.

Practice kicking off both the front and rear leg.


How to HOOK KICK - Kicking tutorial

Inward Crescent Kick

Outward Crescent Kick


This kick is practiced from a fighting stance, one foot forward, the other 45 degrees to rear.  Bring the back leg up to the opposite side of body, knee high. Foot extends as knee does. Kick arcs upward and strikes high to the side of the head. It continues on after impact and is returned to the ground under control, often followed by a spinning technique with opposite hand or foot.

Crescent Kick Tutorial - Inside & Outside (Standing, Spinning & Jumping)
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