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Jamming Kicks

I often say that all of the kicks in the Pinan kata are toe kicks (tsumasaki geri). This is the preferred way to kick the soft parts of the body, rather than using the ball of the foot (chusoku geri). Tsumasaki geri offers a more concentrated striking surface and an extended reach. Kicks using the ball of the foot were most likely popularized by modern tournaments for safety reasons.

The third kick of Pinan Yondan, however, may be an exception to the tsumasaki geri generalization. This kick (right before the uraken) is probably a jamming kick -- a kick used to jam or prevent a kick by the attacker. If the kick is used to jam the attacker's knee or shin, it would make sense to use ball of the foot or even the heel.

I tend to use my toes for this kick. Perhaps the striking surface depends on what you are visualizing, and this in turn is reflected in the analysis (bunkai) for the movement.

If you think about this movement -- if you are kicking the attacker in the stomach, bladder or groin, he would tend to fall or bend forward. The uraken would then be over his head. But if you are jamming his kick, he will remain standing and the uraken would target his face (as done in the kata).

The important thing is to consider the possibilities. Almost any kick can be used to strike the opponent. But a kick can also be used to jam, block, redirect, or slip a kick. We need to be able to instantly adapt to changing circumstances.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin