The Case Against High Kicks

Let me start by saying that I am talking about high kicks for self-defense. High kicks (defined as kicks above the waist) for competition are another matter entirely.

  1. High Kicks Are Not a High Percentage Move. Can you knock someone out with a high kick? Yes, you can. Are you likely to knock someone out with a high kick? No, you’re not.

    Look at wrestling. Can you take someone down with a shoulder throw? Of course, but you’re more likely to take someone down with a double leg tackle. It’s easier to execute, and has a greater chance of success. Wrestlers spend more time on double leg takedowns, and learn a double leg takedown first, because it is easier and a higher percentage move.

    Suppose you and I are assigned to coach 5 random people in basketball. Not athletes, mind you, but names out of the phone book, which includes, housewives, insurance salesmen, the elderly, the handicapped, etc. You train your team to do layups. I figure that since 3 point shots are worth more, I will train my team to shoot 3 point shots. Whose team will win?

    We realize that although it is certainly possible to score 3 point shots, they are harder to make, and that the average person will be more successful with layups and shots inside the key (up close).

  2. This approach to kicking (train the higher percentage low kicks instead of the more difficult, lower percentage high kicks) encapsulates my approaching to the martial arts in general. Stick to what works. What are the easier, high percentage techniques? Do them. Train them. Know them inside and out.

    As martial artists we love the art, and so we are drawn to the challenging techniques. The difficult techniques appeal to our sense of ego (I can do a jump spin kick!) and we are willing to put in the hours to master them. But we have to be honest with ourselves, and ask if the techniques we are training are the high percentage techniques that will work when we’re surprised, when we’re sick or tired, when the sidewalk is wet or icy, when we’re not wearing the right clothes, etc.

    How it should be done. Notice the opponent can't catch the low kick.


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