Taekwondo is known for its numerous kicking techniques. In the international style,
this diversity is obtained by selecting some basic kicking motions and attributing
different properties to the them. Because of this, kicking techniques can be described
in terms of components. Though, there are some kicks which do not follow this principle,
and exist as unique movements.
Obverse and Reverse
Whether used offensively or defensively, kicking techniques will almost always make
contact with the opponent. Because of this, they consistently considered to be individual
movements. Unlike other movements however, a kicking technique does not have an
One of the implications of this is a change in naming convention. Normally, whether
a technique is obverse or reverse is determined by its balance qualities in relation
to the stance. But because kicking techniques don’t have stances, this naming
convention is irrelevant.
In kicking, obverse kicks can be performed from either the front or back leg, and
are usually faster but less powerful techniques, and reverse kicks involve spinning
to increase the impulse of the impact.
Inward and Outward
Like many techniques, some kicks can be described as moving inwards or outwards.
Inwards means to move towards the centre line and outwards means to move away. (Note
that in the world federation style the definition is different.) Many kicks are
neither inwards or outwards, since they move directly forwards, backwards or sideways.
Because of this, it is unusual to see kicks describe in these terms.
Because reverse techniques involve spinning, they are always outward techniques,
otherwise there would be two contrary motions, which would significantly reduce
the power of the kick rather than increase it.
Most kicks are variations on several much simpler techniques.
Front Kick, 앞 차기 (ap chagi)
The front kick is performed forwards in the direction of motion, and the leg is
also extended forwards relative to the body. Its most common variations are the
front snapping kick and the front rising kick.
The front kick has no reverse variant.
Side Kick, Obverse Side Kick, 옆 차기 (yeop chagi),
바로 옆 차기 (baro yeop chagi)
The side kick is used both in sideways motion and in forwards motion, where the
performer turns sideways on to the direction of motion to do the kick. The leg extends
sideways relative to the body. The common variations are the side jabbing kick and
side rising kick.
Reverse Side Kick, 반대 옆 차기 (bandae yeop chagi)
The reverse side kick is not particularly distinct to the obverse side kick. The
kick itself is the same, but the performer spins before kick to gain extra power.
Back Kick, Obverse Back Kick, 뒷 차기 (dwit chagi),
바로 뒷 차기 (baro dwit chagi)
The back kick is less commonly used than the other basic kicks. The technique is
performed sideways or backwards along the direction of motion, and the leg extends
backwards relative to the body.
Reverse Back Kick, 반대 뒷 차기 (bandae dwit chagi)
The reverse back kick is comparable to the reverse side kick, in that the kick itself
is the same, but the technique is made reverse by spinning before kicking.
Turning Kick, Obverse Turning Kick, 돌려 차기 (dollyeo chagi),
바로 돌려 차기 (baro dollyeo chagi)
The turning kick, though a basic kick, is very dissimilar to ther other basic techniques.
The leg is extended forwards relative to the body, in a motion similar to a front
kick, but the technique is performed along a diagonal or sideways compared to the
direction of motion. The most common variation is the turning snapping kick.
Reverse Turning Kick, 반대 돌려 차기 (bandae dollyeo chagi)
The reverse turning kick is considerably distinct from the obverse turning kick.
Like all reverse kicking techniques, it involves a spin before the kick, but because
the leg is extended forwards relative to the body, yet the technique is performed
along a diagonal or to the side, the reverse turning kick must use a different part
of the foot to strike with, compared to its obverse counterpart. The heel or sole
of the foot is the striking tool here.
Rising Kick, 차올리기 (chaolligi)
The rising variant can be applied to the front, side, and back kicks. The leg is
raised quickly, and is straight throughout the kick. There is no rising variant
for the turning kick because the turning kick has two contradictory motions: the
technique is performed sideways but the leg extends forwards relative to the body,
so a rising turning kick would simply be a rising side kick.
Snapping Kick, 차부수기 (chabusugi)
The snapping variant is the most common, and could arguably be the default. It’s
most important property is speed. The snapping kick is performed fast.
Jabbing Kick, 차지르기 (chajireugi)
The jabbing kick is similar to the snapping kick, but with greater emphasis on the
power of the technique. The jabbing kick is more powerful than the snapping kick,
and so takes longer to perform. This is why it is associated with the side jabbing
Thrusting Kick, 차뚫기 (chattulgi)
The thrusting kick is the most powerful variation. In terms of the shape of the
motion it is very similar to the jabbing kick, but the thrusting kick must be the
Stamping Kick, 차밟기 (chabapgi)
The stamping kick uses a different motion to the thrusting, jabbing, and snapping
variants. It is generally associated with downwards motion.
Pushing Kick, 차밀기 (chamilgi)
The pushing kick is conveniently named. The aim is to push your opponent away, though
no necessarily injure them
Checking Kick, 차멈추기 (chameomchugi)
Hooking Kick, 걸쳐 차기 (geolchyeo chagi)
Pressing Kick, 눌러 차기 (nulleo chagi)
Waving Kick, 덜어 차기 (deoreo chagi)
Consecutive Kick, 연속 차기 (yeonsok chagi)
This technique refers to multiple kicks performed rapidly and sequentially. The
term, though, isn’t seen much, since the international style generally considers
each contact with the opponent as one movement, so two kicks in succession will
be identified as two separate kicks.
Flying Kick, 뛰며 차기 (ttwimyeo chagi)
Many kicking techniques can be performed as flying techniques. Flying involves lateral
and vertical motion, which is commonly achieved with a running jump.
Typical flying kicks include the flying side kick and less so the flying front kick.
Crescent Kick, 반달 차기 (bandal chagi)
This kick is performed by raising the leg forwards and sideways simultaneuosly,
with the leg straight. The motion is similar to the front rising kick, and whilst
it could be considered a variation on the front rising kick, the sideways motion
makes it sufficiantly distinct from the other variations. In this sense, it is similar
to the reverse turning kick, which is very distinct from the other basic kicks.
A reverse version of the crescent kick exists, and it involves the usual counter
spin and then kick, which gives a motion very similar to the reverse turning kick.
The crescent kick has inward and outward variations.
Twisting Kick, 비틀어 차기 (biteureo chagi)
The twisting kick is one of the most unusual kicks in Taekwondo. The leg is raised,
knee bent, and then the foot is brought across the body and kicks outwards. This
contrasts with most kicks, which kick inward. In fact, the twisting kick could be
considered an outward turning kick, since it involves kicking laterally but extending
the leg forwards from its normal position.
The twisting kick is extremely useful in sparring, because it allows you to kick
from the front leg but to the opposite side of your opponent to the turning kick.
When used with turning kicks, you can attack your opponent from either side easily
without changing stance. Since twisting kicks are rarely used in sparring (for no
obvious reason), they also contain an element of unpredictability.