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Low Leg Kicks

When I learned to spar back in the mid-1970s, we never kicked to the legs. Kicks had to be above the belt and to the front of the body (not the back). As such, we tended to kick to the stomach, sides, chest, or head. Sometimes we swept, but did not kick to the legs.

This weekend I was training with some of my seniors and we practiced low leg kicks to the outside and inside of the legs. Today, such kicks are often seen in mixed martial arts matches. I must say that I found it very interesting and enjoyable to spar with low kicks. We did take precautions, however, to avoid kicks to the knee area (to avoid joint injuries) and to the groin. We practiced making harder contact with protective pads.

When I discussed this with my Shorin-Ryu Sensei here in Hawaii, he commented that he thought that low leg kicks were a good idea. His reason was very interesting. He said that in Karate, we prepare for an attack by a non-martial artist. Such a person would probably not train to take kicks to the legs. A strong kick to the outer thigh, should be able to drop or deter a normal, untrained person, without doing permanent damage. In contrast, a kick (or stomp) to the groin or knee joint, the ankle or Achilles tendon, or a kick designed to break one or more bones in the leg, could do permanent damage.

I was very impressed with his reasoning. My Sensei is always thinking about how to do less damage rather than more. He has compassion, even for an aggressor.

See: Low Leg Kicks -- Escape.


Charles C. Goodin