Back Kick Clinic (diary entry)

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Tonight saw the eighth hour of my client’s current course. This became a complete back-kick clinic. We looked at setting up the kick and went through its mechanics as well as its execution. After a warm-up of specific techniques and callisthenics, I looked at the side kick. For me, it is important to learn the side kick before the back kick to understand the mechanics of a thrusting kick. Although it is true that the teep and front kicks can be thrusting techniques the side kick shares more commonalities with a sport-type back kick than any other technique. Having said this, another important reason for teaching the side kick is to show how it differs to the back kick.

Back kicks come in a variety of shapes and sizes in the martial arts world. They can mean very different things to different arts and misunderstandings are demonstrative of how often martial artists live in bubbles. A standard back-kick is a mule or donkey thrusting kick delivered with the heel pointing to the sky and blindly to an opponent attacking from the rear. The move is found in several Chinese systems and some traditional karate. There are some variations with the fighter placing their hands on the ground or even jumping into the air. Then we have those who performing this same technique in a turning motion – a type of spinning back-kick if you will – which I don’t advise in any context other than if you are Marvel’s Daredevil!

Next, we look at the type of back-kick I am addressing here. The lower part of the body is pretty much delivered in the same way as a side kick. The supporting leg pivots and the kicking leg thrusts out with the foot now in a horizontal position. Typically there is no real purpose for this type of back-kick unless it is done incidentally as one might do with a side kick when a round kick has missed the target. The difference between the side kick and the back kick is that the latter turns the back towards the target. When we are generally talking about a back kick we mean something that many refer to as the spinning back kick. This involves turning away from an opponent and then thrusting the leg out backwards. This is what we worked on tonight. Key point to remember is to not whip the head around to the target but to only peer out of the corner of the eye. It is not really a spinning technique.

After the technique was confirmed I began introducing it to combinations. These generally involved drawing an attacker forward using backward footwork and jabbing.