View Full Version : kicking above the waist

05-06-2005, 08:44 PM
thought i'd bring this up for the heck,see if anyone want's to kick it around.
i had read chuck norris' book in which he claims that he taught bruce lee spinning back kick,that bruce told him he never kicked above the waist but became intrigued when he saw the kick and started from then on to incorporate it in his movies;
i have had at least 3 teachers tell me that kicking above the waist is a no no in chinese martial arts style;what do you think?
have you recieved the same instruction?
i was in a mall some years back when they were having a karate demonstration;this kid threw me a side kick which i quickly countered with a "lotus" catching him just below the ankle;i told him he should never kick above the waist;his teacher then came over and both of them gave me a diry look so i left;(i definitely shouldn't have said anything,and now of course i'm sorry i did!)

05-06-2005, 09:22 PM
My teacher never even mentioned it but from demonstrations, kicks were never part of the process. The raising of the foot was to counter a kick from the other, or sweep or provide momentum for a throw or joint dislocation. The demeanour of the other detemined the response of the encounter.

05-06-2005, 11:18 PM
My teacher said high kicks are slower to execute and easier to trap.

In contrast, low kicks are faster to execute and not so easy to trap. The target is usually the groin/pubic area, the knees and the shin.

I wonder how much force is needed to break a knee with a kick. Unfortunately it is not possible to test it out in sparring :)

05-06-2005, 11:50 PM
From a practical point of view, the higher the kick the more off balance you will be, and the more obvious it is.

In a real life situation, it is better to do a sweep or go for the ankles. Or you can do as a friend of mine did, let the person get close and raise the knee sharply................

Personally I have a poor sense of balance, at least it is not good enough for anything above a knee high kick, and it uses too much energy for me to keep balance and kick. If I HAVE to, I tend to go for the anles.

05-07-2005, 06:55 AM
There are several reasons for high kicks: they are showy, and entertaining in performances; they train a greater range of motion than you usually need, but extra flexibility is usually a good thing; some people TRAIN a high finish to a low kick/ankle sweep to emphasize the idea of striking through the target, rather than at the target; and they may score points in certain types of competitions. Fourquet notes that repeatedly throwing high kicks provides excellent aerobic benefits. They also are traditional in some arts, most especially Tae Kwan Do (yes, I know its Korean, not Chinese, and a modern art rather than an ancient art). I do some training because it is a traditional part of the art, rather than because I believe it's fully functional.

The last time somebody really tried to hurt me, he began by throwing a kick at my head. Having exposed himself to such a degree, he was on the floor less than two seconds later, and under control in less than ten seconds. I also recently saw an instructive sparring match, a shodan (first degree black belt) in Shorin Ryu karate with a third degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. The karateka used a lot of Tai Chi "Bump", stepping inside the high kicks and shouldering the Tae Kwan Do fighter. He knocked him down 5-6 times that way, before the other fighter got tired of falling (or maybe he was just tired!). Bill

05-07-2005, 08:46 PM
Taking up Wing Chun (Bruce Lee's art) for a spell as a senior citizen, my instructor informed me that there was no need to kick as high as the waist. The simple kicks he taught were all low kicks and there was very few of them in the forms. I was concerned about high kicks because the older joints just don't work like they used to, so he quickly put me at ease by saying i would never need to kick high to learn Wing Chun--it just wasn't necessary.

To try to answer Kawan's question about breaking a knee, our karate instructor told us it was possible to dislocate, or break someone's knee, with as little as 25 pounds of force from a kick. He also felt that almost anyone could exert that amount of force, so it was always a favorite target for self defense for both genders, large or small--as well as some children.

It is to be assumed that you need to catch the knee at the proper angle. To use an example of this, i was sparring with my teenage son one day, who could kick rather hard, and he accidentally kicked me practically full force in the knee. Our instructor always taught us to keep our knees bent, and never straight, and i found out why. My son's kick to my knee was nicely absorbed and i never received an injury, in fact it never did hurt.
I was just amazed that i could take a kick like that without getting injured, or at least experience much pain. Good training sure can help and so can good luck, i felt i had both that day! Take care all, and best wishes.


05-07-2005, 11:46 PM
Originally posted by bobo711

To try to answer Kawan's question about breaking a knee, our karate instructor told us it was possible to dislocate, or break someone's knee, with as little as 25 pounds of force from a kick. He also felt that almost anyone could exert that amount of force, so it was always a favorite target for self defense for both genders, large or small--as well as some children.

It is to be assumed that you need to catch the knee at the proper angle.


Thanks Bob. 25lb sounds like something I can manage to muster :)

05-09-2005, 05:33 PM
When i do kick in Taiji is for streching like any cats can do very well
so i use to kick at least a waist level,

its good for ma balance overall and nice to strench my legs

its not same as in karate kick

Kawan: i know from my instructor in Karate that an elbow joint only need about 12 lbs to disjoint so i espect a knees just a little bit more

so kicking is very a way to save your life
I dont want to imagine a kick's damage can cause to somebody else

especialy those jump back spinining kick
the goal is to hit with the hue on the side of the head

martial art was not for fun in a certain histroty of humanity but a way to survive

have a nice kicks all

05-09-2005, 06:38 PM
I see those numbers about 15-25 lbs of force breaking a joint, and they seem low. If any of you have wrestled, played soccer, or lifted weights, there are many occasions where knees appear to handle a far bigger load than that even when locked and struck from the most adverse angle. An injury I've seen commonly in football, soccer, and field hockey players is a torn medial collateral ligament, or in extreme cases, the "Unhappy Triad," torn medial collateral, lateral collateral, and anterior cruciate ligaments. Those usually occur from somebody falling, at speed, against the side of a straightened and locked knee. I once fractured my distal femur under that circumstance.

The Karate school my family is active with trains one of our "Classical One Step" defense techniques, one which involves a side kick to the outside of the knee, with great caution after the Sensei once saw a torn medial collateral ligament result from the defender accidently landing the kick. Also, I once saw an elbow give out between two heavyweight wrestlers (one 90 kgs, one 110 kgs) when the smaller repeatedly struck the elbow of the arm supporting both of their weights while trying to flatten the man on the bottom. It can happen, but that was between two big men really pounding hard. Bill

05-09-2005, 11:38 PM
I took Shaolin Wushu for about 8 years when I was really young (8 - 16) and we definitely did kicks above the waist. 2 examples come to mind. First there was a kick where we had to jump up in the air, spin our bodies greater than 360 degrees and whip the outside leg around. Key word here is whip. The legs had to follow the hips and not the other way around. The target was side of head or neck and contact was suppose to be with heel of out leg. In the end you should be facing your oppoent hopefully with them unconscious on the ground.

The other kick above the waist is the jumping front to kick, almost identical to the jump kick found in the Sun 73, except you don't touch your foot with your hand. We had others too, but not as flashy as these 2. It's very difficult to stop one of these kicks since it has full body momentum. Best thing to do is avoid it and counter when they land.

As to breaking/dislocating joints, it all depends on the angle of impact, the force/speed of the impact, and the position of the joint. If the joint is already locked out, it is quite easy. For knees, usually at a 45 degree angle coming in from side from outside in. I've even learned moves where you forward roll into someone's knee to "take it out". The roll tends to lock and break almost simultaneously.

But this is a TC forum and talking about this stuff is making my testosterone and blood pressure levels rise again, and that's what I'm trying to prevent. Anyway, that's some of the stuff I learned in my glory days. Quite brutal and barbaric, but it does its job when done properly and it does exist.

05-10-2005, 07:19 PM
With it's slow meditative movements, we sometimes forget that TC is a martial art :)

Some of the applications can be brutal. For example zhuan shen bai she tu xin (white snake spit venom) has a finger strike to the eyes or the throat. Similarly for Gao Tan ma dai chuan zhang (High pat on horse, penetrating palm ?) which has finger strikes to the throat.

05-11-2005, 08:56 AM
shaolin wushu has become a circus side show with "decorated" kung fu moves,acrobatics and peking opera thrown in the mix;what's labeled wushu today is a far cry from the original martial art of the shaolin.
it's interesting to note that the yang's turn and kick w/left heel is considered by teachers i know to be a heel kick to the center of the chest (that was above the waist last time i checked),tho
others have said a kick to the bladder;(i'd hate to be carrying around the bag to pee in after that)

05-11-2005, 01:02 PM

slow can never build martial skill keeping in mind the forum is health oriented. However, fast and slow alternating, and following can become formidable if done correctly.

The turning and parrying can be 'soft' while application is 'hard'.

05-11-2005, 05:01 PM
wrong again pal,slow movement connects the body so that all parts move in unison;soft is practiced to be in "pieces" so that your opponent cannot maintain a hold on you with any part of your body;BOTH are martial skills;
following,adhering and matching your opponent's speed whether fast or slow are also martial skills but they are different from the first two i mentioned

05-12-2005, 08:15 AM
Well, we practice soft so we can react properly and empty. He can't get us because he can't hold us but we never "come apart". We simply react to holds by doing a whole body movement into it.

So people do things in a different way ^.^

05-12-2005, 08:21 AM
Oh yes, high kicks. If it's caught, you are toast in a serious situation.

And we want to avoid such high risk/gain gambles when we can't afford to loose it :)

05-13-2005, 07:52 AM
sorry tom,coming apart is NOT what i meant to imply w/description of being "in pieces" but you have the general idea anyway,thanks

05-13-2005, 07:59 AM
let's get back to kicks above the waist;as we all know there are few that can be applied that way in yang h'bout chen? guang ping? others?

05-14-2005, 07:21 PM
The idea of even being able to kick above the waist is just hypothetical for me...but using my limited martial imagination, I can dream up very few scenarios in which I would contemplate doing that, if I were again young, flexible and full of **** and vinegar...

Richard Livingston, grandfather

05-15-2005, 07:22 PM
Hi Richard:

Good point! For this grandfather it is quite hypothetical for me also. However, high kicks aren't required for martial applications. A well placed foot stomp, shin kick, knee kick, and let's not forget that a thigh punch and palm strike to the groin also works. Keep in mind, they are still all BELOW the waist. Besides, high kicks ABOVE the waist can also even place a karateka in a very vulnerable position if it is well defended. Take care and best wishes.


04-12-2006, 04:24 PM
Greetings everyone,

In 1971, I practiced daily with my friend Casey Clayton, a fellow Taiji Quan teacher. We started early in the summer attacking and defending each other very!!! slowly, then gradually increased our speed. By the end of the summer, we threw punches and kicks at each other with full speed and force. Fortunately, we both could move away from each other's strikes on contact, but, we found that anytime we attempted to kick above the waist, the other person was able to avoid the kick and counter with a strike that connected. Since that time, I only use kicks above the waist for demonstration (being older limits that).

I have found that heel kicks to the shins and knees are the easiest for students to learn and use effectively, even for rear grabs. I don't emphasize kicks to the instep or groin because they are difficult to connect on an experienced fighter.

I also use my hips and legs for deflecting strikes and unbalancing an opponent. However, I find Taiji's soft strength and listening to be far more effective than any other martial-art techniques I have ever done.


04-15-2006, 08:09 AM
Originally posted by Shark
i have had at least 3 teachers tell me that kicking above the waist is a no no in chinese martial arts style;what do you think?
I have read in a kung fu book that the northern kung fu styles had high kicks because they were trying to knock off warriors on horseback, whereas the southern style was more close range boxing. don't know how true it is though. (that's why i think that history and culture are so important here.)

take it from a ~45 kg woman, that speed with no connection is useless, and I would be deluding myself if i thought that that kind of training works. that is why i am doing tai chi (and to get away from all those testosterone-charged youths).

04-18-2006, 12:04 AM
Kicking high can be useful, provided that you don't lose your balance, when you dont have enough proximity to your opponent. Otherwise low kicks in close proximity can reach a lot of anatomical delicacies below. In competition it is different, all is about show and sports

04-20-2006, 04:21 PM
If I were able to kick above the waist without injuring myself, that very fact would make me happy. I would want to just because of being able to....

Richard Livingston, MD
Shrink, and Lily's Grandfather

04-21-2006, 11:30 PM
Originally posted by Shark
i have had at least 3 teachers tell me that kicking above the waist is a no no in chinese martial arts style;what do you think?
have you recieved the same instruction?
in reply to the original question, i did some reading, and it seems that the standard response is "The South punches, the North kicks (literally "Southern fist, Northern leg")".

On the wikipedia entry for Northern_Shaolin, there was even the *belief* that "the distinction between Northern and Southern is due in part to geography and genetics. The Northern terrain was considered flat and easier to do jumps and kicks and Chinese of the North were considered taller with longer legs. Southern Chinese were considered shorter and lived on rocky terrain. Their style developed with more hand techniques and less leg work."

04-22-2006, 06:42 AM
Red,(btw my former handle was "SharK" on these forums so that you know i'm aknowledging you directly),what you say is an interesting bit of history and absolutely correct;Most Chinese styles however as compared w/hapkido various forms of kickboxing etc.have a tendency to kick lower no matter what terrain they're from