Learn The Tang Soo Do Side Kick In Four Steps

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Step 1 of the Back Leg Side Kick

Dean Meier of Seymour Martial Arts in a fighting stance. Robert Rousseau

Dean Meier, 4th dan in Tang Soo Do, Master Instructor, and owner of Seymour Martial Arts in Seymour, Connecticut, starts off this side kick tutorial in a fighting stance.

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Step 2 of the Back Leg Side Kick

Dean Meier of Seymour Martial Arts demonstrates step two of the side kick. Robert Rousseau

Next he pivots his front foot 90 degrees to the left- in essence, 90 degrees from his target- and picks up his back leg in the process. Notice that Sa Bom Dean Meier's right knee is raised high to hip level while in the chamber position. The kicking leg (raised leg) is coiled and ready to strike with the knife edge/heel of the foot.

Other factors of note are that his hands are still up, his eyes are straight ahead on the imaginary target, and his base leg is slightly bent. Straight legged kicks are no good, as it's to easy to lose your balance.

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Step 3 of the Back Leg Side Kick

Dean Meier of Seymour Martial Arts demonstrates step 3 of the side kick (main view). Robert Rousseau

Sa Bom Dean Meier then executes the side kick by leaning back slightly and turning his hips over in a counterclockwise direction. At the same time, his left foot turns 90 degrees so that it faces directly behind him. This turn allows for more drive or push off, if you will.

Notice that he has extended his right arm in the direction of his imaginary target in order to create balance, and that his ankle is tight and turned in a fashion that will allow the knife edge/heel to make impact. The side kick is a strike that moves straight out and back, rather than an angled kick like the roundhouse or round kick.

The side kick is generally meant to make contact with the body. Oftentimes, Tang Soo Do practitioners aim for the hips or waist with it.

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Step 3 of the Back Leg Side Kick Continued (Alternate View)

Dean Meier of Seymour Martial Arts demonstrates step 3 of the side kick (alternate view). Robert Rousseau

Here is another view of the kick at the time of impact.

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Step 4 of the Back Leg Side Kick

Dean Meier of Seymour Martial Arts demonstrates retraction on the side kick. Robert Rousseau

To finish the entire move, Sa Bom Dean Meier brings his right knee back into his body as he did when he chambered for the move initially.

It takes time to become proficient with the side kick. It's a technique that requires the practitioner to move his/her body in ways that they are not used to. Further, the technique itself is a test of balance.

Thanks to Dean Meier, Master Instructor at Seymour Martial Arts, for illustrating this technique.

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Some of the Martial Arts Styles Utilizing the Side Kick

The side kick is a truly useful weapon when used by those who know how to do it.  It is generally a striking technique preferred by traditional martial arts practitioners.  One fighter who utilized it in a successful way in sport martial arts, including mixed martial arts and Sanshou, was Cung Le.

Below are some of the styles which teach the side kick, often in their own somewhat unique way.

Styles Which Teach the Side Kick

Goju Ryu Karate

Karate

Kenpo Karate

Kung Fu

Kyokushin Karate

Muay Thai

Shotokan Karate

Tae Kwon Do

Tang Soo Do