The round house kick can be disputed as one of the most popular techniques seen in martial arts. Almost every striking discipline has one variation of the kick or another but in reality they are all extremely similar. The popularity of the kick could be seen through various forms of cinema, such as movies and video games. The most authentic application of the kick is when someone receives one to the face by no other than Chuck Norris. With all jokes aside, the kick itself is extremely powerful and can amount to almost 23 pounds of force. In combination with the bone breaking power, the kick is also efficient as it can be delivered at 136 miles per hour depending on the individual. With all of the seemingly effective perks to the kick, people such as Bruce Lee realized its potential and applied it to his or here arsenal. In the case of Bruce Lee, the round house kick is probably the staple of his fighting ability. There has not been one action movie in which he starred in where he hasn't thrown a single round house. The super human feat that he could deliver lightening fast kicks can be attributed to the round house. While is may look like a flashy dance move in the movies, the round house kick is potentially one of the deadliest kicks known to man.
What is so effective about the round house kick its versatility spans no boundaries. You can deliver the kick to high, middle, and low parts of the human body and use it interchangeably with another strike. It can be compared to the jab in boxing as both techniques serve as leading strikes for follow up attacks, which depends on whatever the individual chooses to do. The kick itself is quite easy to execute and can be broken down into several steps as well as tips.
The round house kick can be delivered standing, squatting, or just plain jumping. As a practitioner of Tae Kwon Do, I have experience in delivering the round house kick in any position as it serves as the bread and butter of the discipline itself. Standing is the most preferred option as going to the ground in a real world is probably not the best choice and jumping kicks are risky and difficult to actually pull off.
As for stances, it can be delivered in any form except if your back is turned as the round house is specifically used for frontal attacks.
The execution of the kick relies on two factors: power as well as correct delivery of the kick
Below are the necessary steps in delivering a round house:
1. Get into your fighting stance- one foot should be forward and the other foot should be placed backwards to maintain stability
2. Place the leg that you will not use forwards and the dominant leg backwards as you will bring that leg up to kick
3. When you decide to deliver, raise the back leg up and pivot to the side with your front leg
4. Bend or retract the raised leg inwards like you would if you were to sit on your knees and turn your hips so only your knee will be pointed in front of you
5. Only the knee should be pointing out as it allows you to target specific parts of the body as well as chamber it like a loaded bullet of a gun which allows you to unleash the power of the kick as it makes impact onto the person's body- this allows you to deliver kicks without giving your opponent any indication on what kick will be thrown as the knee comes before the rotation which differs from other striking arts incorporating kicks
6. Once in position, simply kick with your foot towards your opponent in a snapping motion
7. There are two ways to make contact with a round house kick. You can either kick with the instep using the flat part of your foot by by bending it outwards or by using the ball foot by bending the foot inwards with your toes bent all the way back. Also you can make contact with your shin bone which can equate to a knock out as it is calcified and built to withstand a lot of punishment.
8. Once your foot has made contact with the opponents body, attempt to retract the kick so that your knee will reappear
9. Once you have brought back the leg, place it back down
10. Chain the kick with a combination of strikes or use whatever method you think is suitable
Height of the kick:
- Head level
- body level to the midsection
- to leg or leg kicks to both the outside and inside parts of the leg intended to immobilize the opponent
- to the foot as a frontwards leg sweep
- Always stretch before attempting the kick: I cannot stress enough. Pulling a thigh muscle can potentially put you out of commission for a few days to a few weeks depending on the severity of the strain or sprain. Stretching will also increase your range of delivering the strike as it allows you to bring your knee even higher
- Kicking high is not the goal- all that matters is how powerful the kick is and correct technique
- Improve power of the kick by performing exercises directed towards strengthening the leg especially squats as well as leg extensions on a machine
- Try and prevent swinging the kick. Although it is commonly seen in movies, swinging will only decrease the power of the kick as you are only dragging air. Also you can be left vulnerable to attacks as your back is momentarily turned in the process of the swing
- Turn your hips prior to the point where your body is parallel to the wall or any perpendicular surface as it allows you to cover more body area of the opponent and make it easier for you to actually bring your knee up
- Repetition and practice is the key
- Although there are different variations of the kick, stick to the one you are most comfortable with. Bruce Lee once said, " I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." What he means is perfecting just one kick is better than attempting different kicks without putting as much effort or power into it.
- I am not responsible for any injuries or anything related as a result of attempting this kick
Besides stationary kicks, Tae Kwon Do also includes flying kicks making the only martial art with the most variety of kicks as it puts emphasis on the leg as the strongest and most efficient limb of the human body. The round house kick is no exception.
There are five different variations of a jumping round house kick:
- Jumping single leg round house
- Jumping double leg switch kick
- the Showtime kick where you kick off of a surface
- sliding jumping round house
- outside leg kick and jumping round house
- Tornado Kick- one complete, clockwise spin and a jumping round house kick
- Tornado Kick- one complete, clockwise spin and a jumping round house kick
- and of course the leaping round house kick
* Almost every jump kick requires you to jump off of one leg and use that momentum to kick with the other leg
Although jumping kicks look spectacular for entertainment purposes, they are not as effective or powerful in combat. They are visible to the opponent and are dangerous if blocked or if you lose balance as it can be potentially injurious and fatal on a hard surface like concrete if not landed correctly Bruce Lee shared the same view as he stated that flying kick were not practical. However, this does not mean that they are completely useless. It all depends out the skill and how one applies it.
Regular Round House Kick with Shin Jumping Single Leg Round House Kick
Can't turn down a kick from Jean
Claude Van Damme (Muscles from Brussels) The Infamous Showtime Kick off of the octagon cage
Besides being a pre-requisite in action movie flicks and fighting video games, it is also used as a common technique among mixed martial artists as well as kick boxers representing such organizations such as the UFC and K-1, who can be referred to as the modern day versions of gladiators. Many of these athletes have achieved plenty of victories through one hit knock outs made from contact of the shin. This goes to show that the roots of traditional martial arts have come a long way and continue to thrive in the current world.
Bruce Lee's Application of the Round House Kick:
Bruce Lee had a favoritism for this type of kick as he used it in almost every single one of his marital arts movies. It almost seems as if his the kick had become an appendage of his fighting prowess. Bruce threw his round house with either a leading kick to the leg to confuse his opponent, utilize a jumping version of it as seen in the picture, or deliver up to three consecutive kicks to the chin of the opponent incessantly. He learned a vast majority of these kicks from a well renowned Tae Kwon DO master ( 8th degree) whose name was Jhoon Rhee. They developed a special relationship where they exchanged techniques with each other: Jhoon would share his kicking technique while Bruce would share the techniques he gained from Wing Chun. This kind of serves as a non-commitment relationship as Bruce obtained knowledge of other disciplines without having to become a student. This ties is with his belief that a true martial artist should embrace him or herself with different martial arts to fill to holes and the gaps of their skill set. Bruce's relationship undoubtedly lead to his rise to fame as action star and influenced Chinese action cinema for the better as many of the films before Bruce's life time lacked actual martial combat, just flying swords and other super hero like abilities. Ultimately, the round house kick has become a cult- icon as many martial art movie fans stared is awe and gamers round house kick away in games such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter as a tribute to Bruce Lee and his lasting legacy.