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Anf
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Roundhouse kick - karate vs muay thai version

Hi all.

One of the things that appeals to me about martial arts is the fact that it's basically the science of the human machine. By that I mean we focus on details of body mechanics, energy, the mind, and how it all fits together to make a single functioning unit.

To that end, I do take a keen interest in theory as well as practical aspects.

I've been trying to learn the differences between the highly revered muay thai round kick, and the roundhouse we have in karate and it's spin offs.

I don't have a local muay thai school to learn at, and I'm not sure I'd want to anyway. Those guys are tougher than me. They consider it essential to fracture their own shins apparently. I don't fancy that myself. But I have been watching tutorials on YouTube.

It seems to me that there are 3 basic differences.

1. In karate, we train to maintain a strong position even if we miss. In muay thai they follow through to the extent that if they miss, they'll end up exposing their back to their opponent.

2. In karate we strike with the foot (which part depends partly on the specific style) while the muay thai folks use the shin

3. In karate we fire straight from where we're at, pivoting the supporting foot as we release. In muay thai they set up half the pivot with a step.

Muay thai is revered for its devastating kicks. I can see why they use shins. I believe feet just aren't designed to take that much impact force.

Any thoughts on the pros and cons of each, specifically in relation to the roundhouse kick? Why doesn't karate adopt the muay thai version, or vice versa?

Chris R
Chris R's picture

I personally find the Muay Thai version to be more useful for sport fighting, but you can use either one effectively. In a self defense situation, I doubt I would use either of them, although I have heard of cases where both have been used with effective results. I'll list some of the pros and cons which come to mind for me below.

Firstly just one thing I'd like to point out; if you miss a Thai kick, you can recover from it without exposing your back to your opponent. It's still harder to recover from than a Karate kick, but good fighters don't expose their back like you suggested. Watch some fights online and you'll see this in practice.

Muay Thai kick pros:

Very powerful and damaging

Hits with the shin, thereby reducing risk of injury upon impact, especially if your opponent blocks the kick

Even if the opponent blocks the kick, it can still do damage to whichever part of the body they used to block it. This is an often overlooked benefit.

Muay Thai kick cons:

Harder to recover from if you miss, compared to the Karate alternative

Slightly slower than the Karate alternative

Easier to counter with certain moves, eg. catching the kick or dodging it

Karate kick pros:

Fast and difficult to predict

Easer to recover from if you miss

Can hit small targets accurately, using a smaller striking surface, eg. the ball of your foot

Karate kick cons:

Less powerful in general. However it can still cause knockouts, and do damage

Higher risk of injury if you hit your opponent's defense, or if you hit a hard surface on their body. Also keep in mind that very few of us condition our feet for kicking, which doesn't help.

Requires more precision, which makes it harder to pull off effectively in a fight

To answer your question about either style adopting each other's kick: I personally don't see why Muay Thai would ever replace its characteristic roundhouse kick, as it works well the way it is. I think it's more likely that Karate practitioners would at times adopt the Thai kick to supplement their training. But I don't see it ever becoming an important part of Karate at all.

deltabluesman
deltabluesman's picture

Great thread.  I think both are effective.  Lately it seems like I've seen more and more karate guys who use both.  I'm not 100% sure of the specific details of Muay Thai's round kick, but I guess my own preference is closer to their style.  I like to hit with the shin.  I think it's a little more forgiving to use the shin--if I make a mistake, there's less of a chance of me hitting the top of my foot on the edge of a thai pad.  

I usually target the midpoint of the thigh on my opponent.  Sometimes I'll throw the kick up on a diagonal angle, sometimes I'll throw it over and down into the leg.  I don't spin around because I usually only want the kick to be a set up for something else.  I rarely go any higher than that because of the risk of hitting an elbow. 

You may have already seen this, but Rick Hotton has an interesting way of teaching the karate round kick.  I went to one of his seminars and was extremely impressed by the grace and fluidity of his movement.  In case you're interested (video is a couple of minutes long): https://youtu.be/dC_VPj6eA7Y

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

I personally kick with shin, more details in a clip below.

Kind regards

Les

Anf
Anf's picture

Thanks for the input. All food for thought. I looked at both videos linked, and was very impressed by both.

It's interesting that the muay thai version, or at least a flavour of it, is gaining ground among karateka. I can see why.

The thing is, I'm sure we all learn the 'official' way first, and then tweak it. My personal tweaks turned my roundhouse into something close to the muay thai version even before I started researching the latter.

The reason I'm interested in this is that I'm trying to develop drills that are geared towards practical self defence. In particular for my kids. I'm more than happy for them to learn the 'proper' way, and in fact actively encourage that. But outside of class, I'm keen to strip it back to things that work when debilitating fear prevent the higher thought needed to choose a target, take aim, fire and precision shot etc. In short I want stuff that the primate brain can do effectively. I'm very much open to opinions on how I might make such child friendly drills.

My main roundhouse drill so far is quite simple. I hold a kick shield down the side of my leg, brace for impact, and have my sons kick it. The kicks are low. Occasionally with my spare hand (the one that isn't holding the top handle of the kick shield) I'll wave a focus pad clad hand at their head to remind them to maintain a guard. They love it. Especially if I fake almost losing my balance and falling over on impact. Because they are kids and can't really rock me too much, I get to watch very carefully what they do when they kick, so I get to see if the foot pivot is not happening for example.

I don't encourage high kicks. There's plenty of that in class. It's great for art and possibly sport, but for practical self defence high kicks are high risk. Or at least that's how I see it.

Marc
Marc's picture

As so often, I think context is crucial.

Within the sports arena it is mainly the rules of the specific sport that shape the techniques that are being used. Boxers punch differently than MMA fighters, and Muay Thai competition fighters kick differently than karate competition fighters.

So the question of which kind of roundhouse kicking technique is better than the other can be easily answered by saying: The better kicking technique is the one that helps win the competition.

So a muay thai kick with the shin into the thigh would be a bad technique if you fight by karate WKF competition rules. You are simply not allowed to kick below the waist and therefore will be reprimanded or even disqualified.

In a muay thai fight you don't wear foot protectors. It is therefore unwise to use a typical karate competition style roundhouse kick. You are likely to break your foot if you hit some hard bone with your instep.

I say "typical competition style roundhouse kick", because within karate there are two quite distinguishable types of roundhouse kick. One is the type we see in competition kumite: The knee is raised more or less in front of your body and you kick with the instep (remember: protectors). The other type is what we see mostly in kihon: The knee is raised to the side of your body and travels around in an arc, and you kick with the ball of your foot. - Yes, this description might be a bit rough, but I hope you get the picture.

Anyway, it is an interesting fact that none of the katas of karate include any roundhouse kicks. Why? Because roundhouse kicks are not really useful in self-defence. They are rather long range, they require you to stand on one leg and pivot your supporting foot away from your opponent. High kicks run the risk of your leg being caught and you to be taken off-balance. Low kicks to the thigh might cause a fair amount of pain but they do not reliably end the confrontation. Just look at how many it takes in competition to wear down an opponent.

So the best type of roundhouse kick is the one that fits the goal (wear down an opponent's leg, score points, or escape an assault).

All the best,

Marc  

Heath White
Heath White's picture

I think there is an important element missing in the discussion so far.  Karate round kicks tend to be snappish kicks.  At least the way I learned it, the knee folds in front of the hip, or at most parallel to the hip, before the foot begins to extend.  (I realize this is a very rough explanation, and a real kick is thrown fluidly.)  Muay Thai fighters lead with the hip, and the knee comes after.  This is why Muay Thai kicks are so powerful compared to karate kicks: they swing the leg like a bat.  (The haymaker of kicks.)  They are also a little slower and more telegraphed.

In terms of self-defense, either kick is a fight-ender if it lands on the jaw or head.  Neither kick is a fight-ender if it lands lower.  High kicks have all the obvious disadvantages.  I like the snap version (or even the question-mark version, where you fold like a front kick) for sport fighting.  I think knowing how to throw a hard, Muay Thai-style kick to the knee or thigh is useful: I can imagine a situation where that would be a fight-ender, not in the sense that it put the guy away, but in the sense that he decides you're not worth the trouble.

Finally, learning the different versions gives you some insight into body mechanics.

PASmith
PASmith's picture

One thing to be wary of is talking as if there is one style of Thai kick when actually it can be much more varied than that. At it's core Thai is a pragmatic art where results and effects count more than aesthetics. As such, with any pragmatic art, you will get a variety of expression based around what the person is trying to achieve. A good kicker in Karate or Thai will be creative and vary what they do.

Thai kicks will generally land with the shin but will also land with the foot (or toes). In some case through intent and some cases because the opponent moved or reacted.

Thai kicks will generally be thrown with less chamber than a karate kick with the hip and body pivot creating the power. But they can also be chambered and flicked out if needed. Watch any highlight of a fighter called Saenchai (admittedly a fairly unique fighter) and you can see all sorts of variety  of chamber, delivery, target, etc.

Thai kicks often have ful hip commitment. But then sometimes they don't. Sometimes they are thrown with the hip held back a bit for a speedier delivery and transition into something else (dutch style kickboxers sometimes do this with their leg kick because they are looking to set up hands).

As for why Karate hasn't adopted the Thai style of roundkicking?...it has....at least the styles that do knockdown have. Kyokushin, Enshin, Shidokan, Seidokaikan, etc. Not exclusively...but then Thai itself isn't exclusively one thing either.

Another consideration is the way Thai bouts are scored as that effects the way kicks are viewed and delivered. In Thai balance is key and one of the main criteria for judging. It's not just about landing on a target area but about remaining composed and in balance while doing so. As such a fast kick that hits a target area won't score as well as a strong kick that moves the opponent (even if the opponent "blocks" it).

AllyWhytock
AllyWhytock's picture

Hi,

See Henning Wittwer's translation book: http://amzn.eu/d/7Z8gAzk Funakoshi Gichin & Funakoshi Yoshitaka: Two Karate Masters Page 49 

Incorporates a 1956 biography (written prior to Funakoshi elder's death) by Togawa Yukio ( a student of both men).

Mention of Yoshitaka experimenting with "circular kicks" and their introduction of said kicks into the Funakoshi Karate. No mention of the source of these circular kicks. His experimentation involved the use of cadavers, sourced at his employment, at a Tokyo hospital. He found circular and downward motion was the best way for breaking bones, of cadavers. No mention of the effectiveness on living subjects.

Kindest Regards,

Ally

Anf
Anf's picture

Heath White wrote:
In terms of self-defense, either kick is a fight-ender if it lands on the jaw or head.  Neither kick is a fight-ender if it lands lower.  High kicks have all the obvious disadvantages.  I like the snap version (or even the question-mark version, where you fold like a front kick) for sport fighting.  I think knowing how to throw a hard, Muay Thai-style kick to the knee or thigh is useful: I can imagine a situation where that would be a fight-ender, not in the sense that it put the guy away, but in the sense that he decides you're not worth the trouble.

Finally, learning the different versions gives you some insight into body mechanics.

With respect, I think the whole 'fight ender' concept that so many martial artists refer to should be placed firmly in the huge pile of martial arts myths.

in the entire history of combat, there has never been such a thing as a reliable 'fight ender'. Even the nuke the Americans dropped on hiroshima didn't end it. They had to do it again 2 days later. At the individual level, if there was such a thing as a 'fight ender' we'd learn that then all go home.

in self defence terms, assumes it gets to a fight, then the fight ends when the intended victim is no longer being harmed. Hopefully that comes before any harm. That may entail creating the opportunity to escape. When the student involved is a child, they are extremely unlikely to be able to pull off a debilitating shot against an adult. To suggest they can is frankly lying. However what you can teach them is how to stun a larger opponent long enough for them to run. A roundhouse kick to the side of a knee might make it difficult for the attacker to run fast, if the knee spasms enough to stiffen up. Likewise a shin or knee to the groin might cause an attacker to briefly, for a split second, loosen their grip, creating the opportunity to break away.

self defence, when it becomes physical, is absolutely nothing like we see in the dojo. A good instructor will acknowledge this. Teaching kids that they can achieve a knock out simply by round house kicking to the jaw, and then having them believe that the attacker will stand there and let them do it without simply stepping forward and pushing them over, or any number of other options, is worse than not teaching them anything. It results in kids that believe they can fight when in fact what they can do is demo techniques in a safe environment

Heath White
Heath White's picture

Obviously no single technique will end all fights.  But some are better  than others.  That is why we teach punches to  the head and not to the shoulder.

Personally, I know two people who ended high school fights by round kicking their opponent in the head, and that is what I had in mind.  I know zero who attempted to do so and got pushed over.  Obviously that is not a scientific study but it is something.  Your average high school bully is not expecting a kick to the head. There are very few techniques at all that will reliably defend (in any sense) a kid against an aggressive adult, and if that is the goal then I would focus on strikes to the eyes, throat, or groin.  

Anf
Anf's picture

Heath White wrote:
Obviously no single technique will end all fights.  But some are better  than others. 
Indeed that is true. To that end I'm looking to develop drills for a range of simple but effective techniques. Roundhouse kick is just one such technique.
Quote:
That is why we teach punches to  the head and not to the shoulder.

Many martial arts instructors just teach their interpretation of what their instructors taught them. That doesn't mean that what they teach is effective self defence.

Quote:
Personally, I know two people who ended high school fights by round kicking their opponent in the head, and that is what I had in mind. 

I've seen fights ended by the intended recipient of a punch do nothing while the attacker loses his balance and falls over before the would be victim even realises he's under attack. That doesn't mean that standing there doing nothing is an effective option. Equally as a school kid I lost a fight once. I lost fair and square. The other lad managed to trap my arm with one hand while repeatedly punching to the side of my head with the other. It hurt. But I didn't even come close to being incapacitated. I gave in. Then I walked away. My ego was hurt. But had I been determined I could have easily continued to fight. Blows to the head are not always very effective. Boxers prove this time and time again. You can't condition your head, yet boxers take repeated blows from people who have made it their specialist skill to punch.

Quote:
I know zero who attempted to do so and got pushed over.  Obviously that is not a scientific study but it is something.  Your average high school bully is not expecting a kick to the head. 

Sounds very similar to another myth thrown around in martial arts. 'Yeah but you think like a martial artist, you're average thug wouldn't know what's happening'. To which I answer, if your technique depends on the opponent not knowing how to fight, then it is not an effective technique.

Quote:
There are very few techniques at all that will reliably defend (in any sense) a kid against an aggressive adult, and if that is the goal then I would focus on strikes to the eyes, throat, or groin.

The goal of self defence is not to win a fight. It is to create an opportunity to escape. To this end, one should focus on creating space and using distraction, not necessarily incapacitating the attacker. Hence why I'm interested in drills that focus on stunning an opponent and escaping.

Josh Pittman
Josh Pittman's picture

The most effective roundhouse variation I've used in self-protection drills has been a kick to the inside of the thigh. Best-case scenario, that kick disrupts the opponent's balance and opens him up for hand and arm strikes to the head. To that end, I prefer the faster, pivoting style in Karate and TKD, but landing with the shin instead of the foot. I got the idea from watching a Kyokushin competition, I think.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Lots of great content in this thread! Nothing much to add, other than I think talking about the ways “karate” kicks is problematic. “Karate”, as a term, does not describe a single way of doing things, but a multitude of disparate systems and methods that share a common historical root, but may nevertheless be radically different in practise. There are therefore innumerable “karate roundhouse kicks”. We can talk in general terms about elements that commonly appear, but there will be many exceptions to the rule. For example:

PASmith wrote:
As for why Karate hasn't adopted the Thai style of roundkicking?...it has....at least the styles that do knockdown have. Kyokushin, Enshin, Shidokan, Seidokaikan, etc. Not exclusively...but then Thai itself isn't exclusively one thing either.

In my case, I’ve been taught a few different ways of throwing the roundhouse kick by my karate teachers. One instructor (who has also trained in Thai) taught it the “Thai way” exclusively. Another taught both that way, and also with the chamber, whip, pivot, lean and recovery more commonly associated with karate. Another taught it that way (“real roundhouse”) and also in the “slide in, flicky” way of point fighting (“sport roundhouse”). For me and mine, it is Peter Consterdine’s way of doing roundhouse that we have settled on … and it’s different from all of the above. The body remains upright, the hands are used to impart rotation, the chamber differs depending on if it is the front or back leg, and the leg is “whipped”. The reason I like this one is because it delivers all mighty thud and it chains very well with the hands. This enables us to go from hands to feet and back to hands very quickly. I’ve pretty much totally abandoned the other versions.

The “Thai way” never really resonated with me. It has a ton of power but felt clumsy and overly “big”. That’s not to say it is those things, but simply that was how it felt to me. The “karate way” felt overly refined to the point of losing impact. The “sport” way is perfect for what it is meant to be used for, but because point fighting is not my thing, it is of zero use or interest to me. Peter’s way really hit the mark in terms of impact, tactical use and flow.

To each his own, but the point I’m making here is that all of these kicks are “karate roundhouses” in that they were taught under the label of “karate” to me by karate instructors who regarded it to be a karate kick. Lots of “karates” with lots of roundhouses. When people say, “this is how karate does is”, what they normally mean is “this is how we do it”.

As Ally pointed out above, roundhouse kick is a relative newcomer to karate in any case. For example, it’s not down as a leg technique in Funakoshi’s first book. Not in any kata either. This is probably due to the fact that it reigns supreme when we have some distance – as is most often the case when karateka fight each other – but it’s not that useful when clinched up. As karate started to focus more on more on fighting each other, it is not surprising that roundhouse would find its way into the mix and rapidly rise in popularity. Conversely, the kicks Funakoshi lists fall out of favour as karate shifts its favoured range i.e. uchimata-geri (stamp to inner thigh when clinched), sotomata-geri (stamp to outer thigh when clinched), fumikiri-geri (stepping on the foot to break balance), namikaeshi-geri (the “returning wave kick” from Naihanchi Shodan; which Funakoshi states is for kicking the enemy’s inter thigh), etc.

The vast majority of modern-day karateka practise a form of “roundhouse kick”; indeed, to many it is the quintessential “karate kick”. However, it was not a karate kick at all until relatively recently. The karate kicks of the past are now not that widely practised; indeed, to some, clinching up and stamping thighs, kicking knees, and standing on feet is now “not karate”. We have lots of kicks, and lots of “karates” too.

All the best,

Iain

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Les Bubka wrote:
I personally kick with shin, more details in a clip below.

Good video Les! Fantastic to see it in action on Saturday too :-)

All the best,

Iain

deltabluesman
deltabluesman's picture

Ally, that is an incredible fact about Funakoshi's son.  I had no idea he tested techniques on corpses.  That is wild.  Obviously, I now have to buy a copy of that book.        

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Thanks Iain, 

we only touched the subject of mawashi gedan, without protective gear it would be very painful.

Maybe next time Matt will volunteer. I'm not great with written description of the techniques, but in our version very important is gravity of the body not just leg.

Kind regards

Les

PASmith
PASmith's picture

I've seen so many debates online over the years about leg kicks and how to kick. What's right, wrong. Stepping across or not, pivoting, setting the hips first, which bit of the shin/foot, to guard or use the arms for power, Bas Rutten says kick like this and not that, etc, etc, etc.

And then I watch good kickers ply their trade and I realised there's no one real definite way of doing it IMHO. You can see good kicks landed that vary. Even the same person will land different kicks for different purposes. A fast kick to set up hands (as Iain mentioned chaining them with other techniques) and then a longer more powerful kick perhaps when there's an opening or the opponent is covering up or retreating. Much is made of stepping across and yet I've seen good damaging kicks landed that start with a step BACK (to create space or open up a good angle of attack). I've seen quick snappy less commitment leg kicks used to good effect and also fully committed low kicks blast people off their feet.

My own low kicks (having done Thai and Knockdown Karate) are very similar to Les's video but I also like the snap and surprise of the sort of kick Iain is describing (which are by no means light kicks of course).

Ajwheeler707
Ajwheeler707's picture

Any Kick that lands and has the desired effect of the intent it was used for Is the right kick anything that doesn't have the desired effect was the wrong kick in the circumstance. A good Mawashi is a great tool to have in your locker no doubt, Whether you would get the oppurtunity to use it in a non-consensual scenario, I'm not sure. I would hedge my bets that grappling & close quarter techniques would be more beneficial of more practice/understanding. Unless you are really flexible a good mawashi requires distance and awareness of the attack, (i.e you know it's coming)

The only Mawashi type technique that are Codified in Shotokan Kata that I can think of are those in Unsu  (pleas ecorrect me If I am incorrect), which are done from a position on the ground? That doesn't fit. I do find that strange as it's almost a "revered" kick in the style in the modern day ( I dislike it only because I'm getting old haha).  It is a devastating technique to be sure, whether you would ever get to deliver it in a confined environment from a suprise assault, etc. I have my doubts. May be useful after initial engagement, withdrawal and re-engagement. However common assaults rarely unravel that way.. Close engagements, predicate the use of Knees, elbows, head, stamping and limbs in unison (trapping and striking). If i'm trapping, i'm not going to be delivering a Mawashi, except to Gedan to destabilise and disrupt. You see far more Elbow/Arm techniques in various katas of different styles than you do Mawashi or other kicking in fact. If Kicks are a fight ender, wouldn't the Kata focus more on them? Like anything in Karate, no technique to me is more important than the other, they all have their value and their place. How you use it in any given circumstance determines the effectiveness.

Chris R
Chris R's picture

Ajwheeler707 wrote:

Whether you would get the oppurtunity to use it in a non-consensual scenario, I'm not sure. I would hedge my bets that grappling & close quarter techniques would be more beneficial of more practice/understanding.

This is my belief as well. A roundhouse kick can definitely finish a fight, not just by hitting the head, but also by hitting one of several different areas on the torso. In rarer circumstances a leg kick can end a fight. However, the likelihood of you being able to pull that off in most real situations is low. Therefore the fact that kata contain mainly close quarters techniques, rather than stuff like roundhouse kicks, makes perfect sense. The smartest way to use your valuable training time is to focus on what you are most likely to use, and the kata does exactly that.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

PASmith wrote:
I watch good kickers ply their trade and I realised there's no one real definite way of doing it IMHO. You can see good kicks landed that vary. Even the same person will land different kicks for different purposes.

Good point and true! When people are training for a very specific context, exclusively, that will shape the kicking style because the context will determine what is most effective. For example, the style of kicking we see in WKF tournaments is relatively consistent, as is the kicking we see in Olympic TKD, Kyokushin tournaments, and so on. However, in exchanges that support a wider array of kicking styles (i.e. MMA), we do see people kicking in a way that suits the exact moment. We also have those really skilled individuals who can kick “for all seasons” as they move between differing types of combative exchange.

Ajwheeler707 wrote:
Any Kick that lands and has the desired effect of the intent it was used for Is the right kick anything that doesn't have the desired effect was the wrong kick in the circumstance.

Absolutely. That is a succinct way of expressing it. Context is always a key factor.

Ajwheeler707 wrote:
The only Mawashi type technique that are Codified in Shotokan Kata that I can think of are those in Unsu  (please correct me If I am incorrect), which are done from a position on the ground?

There are some highly influential Shotokan instructors who have added roundhouses to existing kata (i.e. Empi), but these changes were unpopular and later reversed. In the standard Shotokan canon though, you are right that that leg movement from the floors is the most “roundhouse like”, but we can’t really call it a Mawashi Geri. In other non-Shotokan versions of Unsu, there is a back kick from the floor at the same point.

Ajwheeler707 wrote:
If Kicks are a fight ender, wouldn't the Kata focus more on them?

Like you, I think is more to do with applicability in non-consensual violence. That is the kind of violence kata seeks to address, and the role of kicks is limited. That’s why we don’t see that many kicks in kata, and those that we do see are more suited to close-range combat. Kicks can be finishers, but the scarcity of them in kata is due to relevance / applicability in the prescribed context, as opposed to inherent efficacy. In consensual combat – specifically those where a pulsating distance is deemed to be mutually advantageous – kicks are way more relevant and hence are way more effective.

Ajwheeler707 wrote:
Whether you would get the opportunity to use it in a non-consensual scenario, I'm not sure. I would hedge my bets that grappling & close quarter techniques would be more beneficial of more practice/understanding.

That’s how I see it.

Chris R wrote:
This is my belief as well. A roundhouse kick can definitely finish a fight, not just by hitting the head, but also by hitting one of several different areas on the torso. In rarer circumstances a leg kick can end a fight. However, the likelihood of you being able to pull that off in most real situations is low. Therefore, the fact that kata contain mainly close quarters techniques, rather than stuff like roundhouse kicks, makes perfect sense. The smartest way to use your valuable training time is to focus on what you are most likely to use, and the kata does exactly that.

Well said. When we understand that kata are specifically designed for non-consensual criminal violence (Itosu, Motobu, et al), they make total sense. Unfortunately, many view kata through the lens of consensual combat (because they don’t appreciate the difference) and that leads to confusion i.e. “Why don’t we have a guard up?”, “Why is the footwork so basic?”, “This arm position is a guard”, “This is a double block”, “Where are the roundhouse kicks?” etc.

I’m really enjoying this thread! Loads of great information and insights! Thanks folks!

All the best,

Iain

Anf
Anf's picture

Chris R wrote:
A roundhouse kick can definitely finish a fight, not just by hitting the head, but also by hitting one of several different areas on the torso. In rarer circumstances a leg kick can end a fight. However, the likelihood of you being able to pull that off in most real situations is low. Therefore the fact that kata contain mainly close quarters techniques, rather than stuff like roundhouse kicks, makes perfect sense. The smartest way to use your valuable training time is to focus on what you are most likely to use, and the kata does exactly that.

Makes perfect sense. The reason why I'm interested in the roundhouse from a self defence perspective at this stage is not necessarily for the kick itself, but the elements that make it up. For example, in the karate and Korean flavours, the chamber is a good way towards being a knee strike if its close up. At very close quarters, twisting to the side while jamming a knee and a shin between you and the assailant may create the opportunity to create distance and loosen a grip. So when I'm looking at techniques in this context, for me the goal is to dissect the techniques and try to take principles that would be useful that don't require good aim or timing and can be pulled off while the brain is locked up in panic mode.

As an aside, even when not in panic mode some techniques often don't go well. At all levels, from the community hall dojo to the octogon on TV, we see things get a little bit sloppy once the pace gets going and people start tiring. That's in a safe and controlled environment. Stick the chaos of reality in the mix and the sheer panic that goes with that and it becomes obvious I think that self defence has to be more about simple principles than techniques. I believe its important to find the techniques that most effectively convey those principles.

Chris R
Chris R's picture

Anf wrote:
At very close quarters, twisting to the side while jamming a knee and a shin between you and the assailant may create the opportunity to create distance and loosen a grip.

That reminded me of a technique from Muay Thai. This video shows a counter to it, but the main thing I want you to look at is the position she is in at the start of the video. She is doing the motion you described, and this can be used in the clinch (under certain circumstances) to stall an opponent's attacks.

Anf
Anf's picture

Chris R wrote:
That reminded me of a technique from Muay Thai ...

That was really interesting. Thanks.