The art of TaeKwondo is known for having a variety of kicks that are taught within the discipline. They are explosive and powerful movements thrown from a variety of angles against an opponent using both legs.
The kicks in Taekwondo are as follows:
- Axe Kick/Swing Kick(Naeryeo Chagi)
- Back Kick(Dwi Chagi)
- Flying Back Kick(Twi-myo Dwi Chagi)
- Crescent Kick(Bandal Chagi)
- Inside Crescent Kick(Bandal An Chagi)
- Outside Crescent Kick(Bandal Bakkat Chagi)
- Front Kick(Ap Chagi)
- Jumping Front Kick(Eedan Ap Chagi)
- Push Kick(Meereo Chagi)
- Knee Strike(Moreup Chigi)
- Hook Kick/Whip Kick(Huryeo Chagi)
- Spinning Hook Kick (Dwi Huryeo Chagi)
- Sidekick(Yeop Chagi)
- Flying Sidekick(Twi-myo Yeop Chagi)
- Roundhouse/Turning Kick(Dollyo Chagi)
- Tornado Kick/Jumping 360 Roundhouse Kick
- Spinning Roundhouse Kick/360 Roundhouse Kick
- Scissor Kick(Kawi Chagi)
In TaeKwondo the Korean name for a kick is called a chagi and each type of kick(or chagi) has had years of development well before the formation of TaeKwondo.
In this article we are going to take a look at why kicks are favored in TaeKwondo and list every type of kick(with the Korean name). Also explain how to practice the kicks and if there are any differences between how the major TaeKwondo organizations teach kicks.
Why TaeKwondo Is Heavy On Kicking
People tend to refer to TaeKwondo as Korean karate, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In karate, they rely more on punching and linear movements, while TaeKwondo relies a lot on a multitude of kicks. This is what separates TaeKwondo from Japanese karate.
A lot of the techniques are actually taken from an ancient Korean kicking game known as Taekkyon. The founders of TaeKwondo actually took a lot of this game’s curriculum that survived the times and implemented it into modern TaeKwondo.
For some Korean practitioners of TaeKwondo it is a matter of national pride that they practice the national art of their country and not karate. Kicks are the core of the martial art, but punches are also included in combinations generally to set up kicks.
The Kicks of TaeKwondo
The list of kicks(chagis) in TaeKwondo is vast ranging from basic to highly technical. Each kick can be delivered from the ground, jumping, spinning, and turning with both legs. Below each kick in TaeKwondo is described with its purpose and how to execute each technique.
Axe Kick/Swing Kick(Naeryeo Chagi):
This kick gets its name, because it comes down the in the same motion as swinging an axe. You use your heel(the hardest part of your foot) to either strike at the opponent’s collar bone or the top of their head. It can be thrown circulating inward, outward, or straight up and down.
Back Kick(Dwi Chagi):
A back kick(also referred to as a turn sidekick) is a powerful kick in TaeKwondo. Your back leg is used in this kick and you turn 180 degrees to gain power/speed. You use the heel of your foot and generally throw the kick to the solar plexus of the opponent. It is also thrown to the face depending on the rules of the competition.
Flying Back Kick(Twi-myo Dwi Chagi):
Same motion as a back kick, but you fly forward to hit the opponent. This adds extra power to the kick.
Crescent Kick(Bandal Chagi):
It is similar to the motion of an axe kick and you also land with the heel, but you kick with the front leg. To throw this kick you step forward with your back leg(it becomes your front leg) and throw the kick. The motion is an inward crescent motion outward. Hence the name crescent kick.
Inside Crescent Kick(Bandal An Chagi):
This crescent kick is done in to out motion.
Outside Crescent Kick(Bandal Bakkat Chagi):
Crescent kick done in an outside to inside motion.
Jumping/Spinning Crescent Kick variations:
The crescent kick can also be thrown in variations that include a jump, spin, or both.
Front Kick(Ap Chagi):
This is a strong kick in TaeKwondo and is also used in karate. To throw this kick bring your knee to your chest and throw it outward in a snapping motion. You hit the opponent with the ball of your foot to their core or face.
Jumping Front Kick(Eedan Ap Chagi):
You can add a jump to hit a taller person’s chin. This move is also used is in board breaking demonstrations.
Push Kick(Meereo Chagi):
This kick is similar to the motion of a front kick, but instead of a snapping strike it is a pushing strike. A push kick is also used as a defensive move to make space.
Knee Strike(Moreup Chigi):
A knee strike is called chigi instead of chagi, because it isn’t a kick. It is specifically used for self defense and not allowed in competitions.
Hook Kick/Whip Kick(Huryeo Chagi):
This is a deceptive kick that seems like a missed roundhouse, but your foot hooks back around to hit the opponent. You aim to hit the side of the opponent’s head with your heel with this kick.
Spinning Hook Kick (Dwi Huryeo Chagi):
This is a very powerful kick that combines the snap of a heel kick and the spin adds extra force.
This kick is a bit slower than most of the other kicks, but very powerful when thrown correctly. You’re in a sideways stance and you chamber the kick by bringing it to your chest. The kick is thrown with the foot horizontal aiming to land with the heel to the solar plexus or face. A back kick/turn sidekick is another variation.
Flying Sidekick(Twi-myo Yeop Chagi):
Another variation of the sidekick that includes a jump to cover more distance to attack an opponent. It also adds power to the move.
Roundhouse/Turning Kick(Dollyo Chagi)
This is a common martial arts technique that has different variations for each one. To throw this kick turn your foot(opposite the kicking foot), bring your knee up for height, and turn to bring the kick across your body. It is possible to throw the kick with other foot.
Tornado Kick/Jumping 360 Roundhouse Kick:
A tornado kick is another variation of a roundhouse like a spinning roundhouse. The difference is that you stay on the ground for a spinning roundhouse and a tornado kick involves a jump. It is one of the signature kicks of TaeKwondo generating a lot of power.
Spinning Roundhouse Kick/360 Roundhouse Kick:
This variation of the roundhouse involves a 360 degree spin, where you generate more force on a roundhouse
Scissor Kick(Kawi Chagi):
This is a demonstrative kick, where in theory you hit two opponents simultaneously. It involves a jumping side kick and a jumping front kick to opponents on each side of you. You’ve probably seen the move in different martial arts movies.
Differences In How TaeKwonDo Organizations Teach Kicks
Honestly all of the major TaeKwondo organizations teach the same kicks. The purpose of teaching the kicks however is a little difference between different organizations. ITF and ATA are geared more towards teaching kicks for self defense purposes, while WTF teaches kicks geared more towards sport TaeKwondo competition.
The rules of the competitions a school participates in will also dictate how they teach kicks to students. Competitions like full contact and point sparring have a different set of rules for where they can kick and what types of kicks are allowed.
How To Practice TaeKwondo Kicks
There are a variety of ways to practice TaeKwondo kicks. Below are a list of ways they’re practiced within academies.
Partner Based Drills
You get with a partner and practice throwing specific kicks at one another mimicking live action. Kicks are thrown at 50% or less and you and your partner give each other feedback on your technique.
Spending rounds performing kicks on kicking bags repeatedly builds your technique and physical health. All types of martial arts do the same training.
Doing different types of mittwork is also used to improve technique. There are a variety of different pads and shields you can find on Amazon used to drill a variety of different TaeKwondo kicks.
Also of course shadowboxing can be used to practice TaeKwondo kicks. Stand in front of a mirror, so you can see your technique as you throw kicks and make adjustments as needed.
This is nearly everything you need to know about the kicks taught in TaeKwondo. We hope that this was informative and either helps you start or continue your journey through the art of TaeKwondo.