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How to Throw a Front Kick

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A front kick may have been the first move you learned in karate class as a kid, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be one of the best weapons in your arsenal. As with any move, there are hundreds of variations, but we will focus specifically on the differences and applications between snapping and thrusting a front kick. Both types can be very effective in combat sports, and knowing when to utilize them can make all the difference in a fight.

Snap Kick

Photo by James Law for Heavy.com.
Photo by James Law for Heavy.com.

The famous Anderson Silva front kick KO is not your average way to throw this kick. Most often, the front kick is used as a long range attack for a target below the chest like the solar plexus or the lower ribs. From your fighting stance, keep your hands up to protect your head and torso as you shift your weight onto your lead leg. Bring your knee up to aim at your target and kick through with the ball of your foot. This is a very effective way to attack your opponent at a distance and stop them from constantly closing in for punching combinations. However, using your rear leg is the most common way to throw a snapping front kick. When your opponent sees you shifting your weight onto your lead leg, they will be expecting the kick to come to their torso. You can also use a snapping front kick with your lead leg, though it will not be as powerful. Using your lead leg to snap a front kick is often compared to striking with a jab and is very effective at finding your range while working to keep your opponent busy. Shift your weight back onto your rear leg slightly, raise your lead knee up and extend your leg with the ball of your foot kicking through your opponent’s torso.

Thrust Kick

Nick Diaz vs Carlos Condit

A thrusting front kick will not pack the same punch as a snapping kick because it serves a different purpose. A thrusting kick’s best use is in keeping distance between you and your opponent. Utilize the the same stance and set up, but instead of trying to time the ball of your foot coming up to strike, push on your opponent’s torso to create distance. If your opponent is relentlessly pushing forward for punching combinations, push right back with the power of your leg to keep them at bay. The muay thai “teep” is a great kick to master that serves to keep your opponent at a distance.

Keys to keep in mind:

-Maintain a straight posture. It won’t do you any good to throw a front kick if you are left off-balance and vulnerable to takedowns on one balancing leg.

Snap your foot back quickly. The front kick comes straight into your opponent’s torso and straight into trouble if you can’t get your foot back. Leaving your leg out too long will give your opponent a chance to grab your ankle and take you down if you’re not careful.

Change up your attacking leg. If you are always throwing with the same leg, your opponent will be able to dial in to that disposition in your game. Always keep them guessing by changing your attacking leg.