Side Kicks: A Primer

Let’s talk Side Kick . . . . . . not the comedic foil of the hero in some adventure story. We’re talking one of the strongest techniques in martial arts and one of the hardest to apply. All martial arts kicks are effective when utilized correctly. The ability to deliver the technique with speed and power is arrived at through practice. This means that practice cannot be shorted.

There are several ways to set up for the technique. We will review three methods


A. One is lifting the knee to hip height and foot is lifted to mid-shin

This alignment is good for teaching mechanics to beginners and attacking lower extremity targets.  The technique is shown as it attacks a higher level target.

Rt Traingle B1
This is a side view. The hips are located at the right angle. The kicking leg / foot runs  the length of line w up to the wv intersept.


The path of travel is along line w. From the 60 degree angle to the to the wv intersect.  The hips are at the 90 degree (right) angle. As the foot travels up and forward, it must overcome gravity. Even though slight, the gravity effect is present. The position of the leg make the potential for stopping the technique more an issue for higher targets. This aspect of the technique is better applied at low (knee to ankle) targets.


B. One is lifting the knee slightly higher than the hip and the foot is slightly in front of the glute.

This higher chamber of the kick sets up the path of execution with minimal effect of gravity. The path of travel is parallel to the ground. The hamstrings in this alignment are not maximally engaged.

There is power in this aspect of the technique due to line of travel and the reduced effect of gravity. This technique has a shorter distance to travel to the target. The path of travel of the foot, along the line and in the direction of AC, would require less time.

Rt Triangle A
This is a bird’s eye view (overhead looking down). The hips are at position A. The foot travels along line AC


C. One is lifting the knee slightly higher than the hip and the foot is positioned away from the glute.  Personally, I feel that this version of the kick is most powerful


The technique (the foot) goes in the direction of line BC. The muscular engagement along this line involves a higher degree of coordination between the hip extensor chain muscles (glutes, hamstrings) and the leg extensor muscles (quadriceps). This allows for a higher degree of force generation.

Rt Triangle A
This version recruits more of the hip extensor musculature (line BC). More force can be generated for the technique



All of these kick versions can be effectively applied. All have weak points, as do many techniques. Practice is key to their becoming effective techniques. Choose the version that will best accommodate your particular mode of attack / defense. Version A is more  geared for inside low attack. Versions B and C are more for distance. However, they can be utilized at closer ranges depending on one’s stability and technique speed / strength.


Bag Work, Partner drills, Kata . . . . . . . . Practice, Practice, Practice!!!!


For instruction in self-defense and traditional martial arts in North Austin, TX, contact Ab-Sutra Wellness and Fitness Coaches


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