The martial art of TaeKwondo is one that heavily involves the use of kicks. There are so many different types of kicks involved with this martial art. They have to be thrown with speed, precision, and power.
To kick faster in Taekwondo comes down to increasing muscle strength, proper stretching, practicing kicks with the proper form and execution and using the right kicking drills.
In this article I will go over a variety of kicking and stretching exercises you can do to improve speed and power in your kicks for TaeKwondo. I am also going to cover everything you can do to increase efficiency and speed in your kicks. Lets get started!
Taekwondo Speed Training
I’ve been studying Taekwondo for quite a while now, however, my kicks always seem to be a bit slow to others in my class. I got the technique down (as far as I’ve been taught), as I have learned how to rotate the front foot and hips (usually) proper chambers and all that.
It may be due to my age, but I still feel like I’m too slow, like my kicks would be easy to block or even grab when sparring.
This has lead me to ask, what are the best methods to improve the speed and power of my kicks? Lets start with the types of kicks to improve the speed and power of your TaeKwondo kicks and than keep reading to find out the steps you need to take after that to get faster kicks.
Types of Kicks in TaeKwondo
Before we get into the different methods you can do to improve the speed and power of your kicks, we need to list the type of kicks. The kicks in TaeKwondo can be grouped into 3 categories. Swing, thrust, and combined kick.
A swing kick is where you turn your hips(or swing them) to throw a kick. An example of this type of kick would be a roundhouse or a hook kick. Swing kicks generally have a higher speed than a thrust kick.
Thrust kicks are linear attacks designed to hit the face or center of the opponent’s body. An example of a thrust kick would be a front kick or a sidekick. This type of kick usually generates more power than swing kicks.
This type of kick is a mixture of a swing and thrust kick. They are combined by turning or spinning to generate more speed and power. These highly technical kicks are what TaeKwondo is known for.
Muscles Used In Taekwondo Kicks
Knowing the muscle groups used in the kicks are also something you must know if you want to improve your kicks.
- Lower Back
- Lateral Obliques
These muscles make up the chain that are used when performing kicks in TaeKwondo. Each muscle needs to be strong and connected in order to throw a fast and powerful kick. If there is a break or error in this chain of muscles, you will lose power and speed on your kick.
Exercises For Each Muscle Group
To improve the strength of each muscle, there are a variety of different exercises you can do. Here is a list of exercises for each muscle and how they improve their strength.
The best workouts for the 4 muscles of the quadriceps are squats, lunges, and leg extensions. They can be done with or without equipment. If you want to do compound weightlifting with these movements, the best equipment to use are barbells, kettlebells, and dumbbells.
The hamstrings are responsible for internal rotation, knee flexion, and hip extension during kicks. Deadlifts, lunges, and ham/glute raises are great exercises to improve strength in your hamstrings. Kettlebell swings and low bar squats are great to develop explosive power in your hamstrings.
The calves are not really thought of in importance of kicks, but they are an important part of the chain. You can do step ups, lunges, calf raises to improve strength in your calves
The core is the central point for throwing punches and kicks. Push ups, pull ups, deadlifts, crunches, and deadlifts make your abs and core stronger.
A lot of pressure gets put on your lower back when performing kicks. If it isn’t strong you will most likely strain it or worse. To keep your lower back strong consider performing pull/chin ups, dumbbell rows, face pulls, and pullovers.
In the turn and spin kicks, there is a lot of trunk rotation and lateral flexion. Side planks and lateral pulldowns will help to build strength in your lateral obliques.
Stretching For Faster Kicks in Taekwondo
TaeKwondo requires that your legs be flexible in order to throw the kicks with the most speed and power you can muster. If you practice TaeKwondo, then you must be stretching everyday, no exceptions. Here is a list of the most important stretches you should be doing everyday to improve your kicks.
Pre Stretch Exercises
Pre stretch exercises are designed to get the blood flowing before you begin stretching. This will allow you to increase flexibility and lower the risk of injury.
For 1 3-5 minute round you can either jump rope or shadowbox to get the blood pumping before you stretch.
Pull Down Stretch
Keep your legs shoulder width and reach down to the floor. Hold the center position for 10 seconds and then move your hands to your left and right sides.
For this stance your going to be leaning to the side with one knee bent and the other leg straight. Hold for 10 seconds and then move to the other side. Do this stretch on each side 2-3 times
Horse Stance Or Ready Stance
For this stretch you’re going to be in a horse stance, which is basically a half squat position. Keep your back straight, chest out, and you can push your legs outward with your hands to increase the stretch. Do this stretch for 30 seconds to a minute
The splits are a must for TaeKwondo and they are done in every TaeKwondo school. Stretch your legs as far as you can without hurting yourself for around 30 seconds. If you do this stretch everyday, then eventually you’ll be able to do the splits if you couldn’t already.
Stretch Kicks: This is a great dynamic stretch that mimics the motions of kicks. Start at your hip, then your chest, and until you’re loose until you can kick to your head.
Other Activities/Exercises To Increase Kick Speed And Power
Running is a tried and true method to build up strength in your legs that nearly all serious athletes make part of their routine. 3-5 days of running a week will definitely build power and speed in your legs for kicking. Start low at 2-3 miles and try to work your way up to 5, but do what works for you.
Swimming is a fantastic full body workout that builds endurance and burns alot of calories. The best part is it has zero impact on your body. If you have any nagging leg ailments that keep you from running, then consider swimming.
Box jumps are quick explosive movements that are great to build up speed and power to your kicks. 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps of box jumps at a comfortable height you can do will definitely translate to better kicks.
Yes, to increase the speed and power of your kicks, you need to practice throwing them. What a novel concept?
But yes, if you want to increase the speed and power of your kicks in TaeKwondo, you must practice them everyday. Here are some methods in training you can implement to get your kicks faster and more powerful.
1000 Rep Rule
The 1000 rep rule is a rule where to get better or master anything, you must do something a thousand times to get better at it. An example of this is boxer Floyd Mayweather, who throws 20k punches a training session to get his punches faster and stronger.
This can definitely be implemented in getting your kicks stronger and faster in TaeKwondo. You don’t have to do a thousand reps of each kick, but 50-100 reps of a few different kicks with each leg will drastically increase the speed and power of them.
Rounds of Kicks
If you have a bag and a timer at your school or home, then try this method. For a 2 minute round do one type of kick with one leg for 30 seconds or a minute focusing on proper technique along with speed and power. Doing 5-10 of these rounds with different kicks will definitely increase the overall quality of your kicks.
To increase the speed of your kicks you have to throw fast kicks. For 30 seconds to a minute throw kicks with one leg and switch. This will build up endurance and the speed of your kicks.
Kicking Drills For Footwork And Speed
Here are some drills you can do to boost speed and power in your kicks.
If you have some plastic cones handy, there are numerous drills you can perform to boost speed and power in your kicks. Here are a couple examples below.
Side Shuffle to Kick
For 1 minute a piece you can side shuffle to each cone and perform a kick. Side shuffle to jump roundhouse, sidekick, frontkick, etc.
Roundhouses Forward And Back
Perform forward and back roundhouses for 1 minute. You can also do this with sidekicks or jump front kicks.
Like cones, agility ladders are another great way to do drills to improve speed and footwork. See below for examples.
Stand horizontal and bounce back and forth, while moving horizontally side to side for a 1 minute round.
In your stance hop forward in between the ladders. When you get to the end go backwards. Complete this for 3:1 minute rounds.
There are nearly infinite drills you can do with cones and agility ladders. Start with these few examples and then work your own drill ideas in after you get comfortable with it.
Kicking Faster In TaeKwondo When Sparring
Below are helpful tips on what to do and not what to do if you want to increase your speed/power in sparring.
Remember that proper technique is the important thing in sparring. If you do not throw your kicks with proper technique, you’re at risk of serious injury.
Set Up Your Kicks
This goes along with proper technique. You need to set up your kicks with proper technique, otherwise you’re just throwing wild/uncontrolled kicks. Throwing wild kicks can lead to the opponent knocking you out or injuring yourself.
Be On The Balls Of Your Feet
If you want to throw kicks with speed and power always be on the balls of your feet. This allows you to throw your kicks at maximum speed and power.
Never Be Flat Footed
If you’re not on the balls of your feet that means you’re flat footed. By being flat footed, you will throw your kicks with less speed and power.
To make your kicks faster or give the illusion that their faster is make angles. If you know how to angle this can make your kicks quicker.
Kicking When Sparring with a Faster Opponent
Sometimes, when you’re in a sparring match you are going to run into a faster kicker than you. When this happens remember these two things listed below.
Don’t Try To Match Their Speed:
The biggest mistake you can make is trying to match an opponent’s speed when you are slower. You will always be a half second to a second slower and end up being outscored.
If your kicks aren’t as fast as your competitor, you have to be the smarter competitor. Just because the opponent is fast doesn’t mean they will win. If you can strategize and time your opponent’s movements, you can block and counter them. Pay attention to their movements and look for the right time to counter.
Cutting angles can make your kicks faster, but they can work against a faster opponent. If you know how to cut angles this can put you a half second ahead of faster opponents.
If you’re a student of TaeKwondo looking to improve the speed and power of your kicks, then hopefully this guide of exercises, stretches, and drills will benefit you. Just remember that to get better at anything involves work and you have to be willing to put in the time if you want to have faster and stronger kicks.