The Front Kick
The front kick is one of the first kicks that is taught to beginners in martial arts. For those of you studying Taekwondo, it is called "Ahp Cha-gi" in Korean. It is one of the most basic types of kicks and one of the most useful. You can use it to quickly contact your partner or you can use it to push them away from you. It can be a distraction, preparing your opponent to be vulnerable for your next move or you can use it to stop your opponent's forward movement. The front kick can be snapped out quickly and uses less energy than most kicks.
Steps to Performing the Kick
There are two types of front kick: a snap kick and a push or thrust kick.
The Snap Kick:
1. Start in a relaxed sparring stance (you can perform this kick from any stance). The important thing is to have a solid base with good balance.
2. Lift your knee as high as you want to aim. This is called the "chamber." If you want to kick high you need to lift your knee high and reverse for a lower kick to the opponent's shin. Your knee should be tightly held against your body.
3. Snap your leg out with your toes pulled back so you make the ball of your foot contact your opponent. The ball of the foot is almost always the point of contact for your body. One exception is kicking to the groin. Then you may use the instep of your foot.
4. Re-chamber your leg by bringing your leg back to the original chambered position with your leg tightly coiled.
5. Put your foot back down in it's original position or if you are moving forward, you can put it down in front.
The power in the snap kick is generated from the rapid extension of your leg. This style is faster but lacks the power of the push kick. It can be used as a stunning blow or a setup kick for another technique. It can also be used as your opponent moves as a targeted attack to stop their body from performing their technique (this is called a "stop" kick).
The Push or Thrust Kick:
1. Start in your sparring stance, same as the snap kick.
2. Chamber your leg, same as the snap kick.
3. This time when you extend your leg you are going to engage your hip muscles. As you extend, follow through with your hips, using a strong twist while straightening your leg. Then thrust out with the hip so you push through your target.
4. Re-chamber the leg
5. Put it down in front or in back.
The push kick can be very powerful. It can smash through your opponent's block and knock them backwards.
Both styles of front kick can be deployed from either leg. The rear is the most common because it is easy to shift your balance and when used from a deep stance it is very powerful. The lead leg is much quicker but less powerful. You can use it to judge appropriate distance.
Flashy pictures often portray martial artists performing super high front kicks but this kick is actually most effective on the solar plexus and ribs. In order to generate the most power the kick should be extended straight out which is usually not to a target's head. When properly aimed this kick will cause your opponent to fold over, leaving them vulnerable to another followup kick, like an ax kick.
Landing front kicks is all about learning timing and distance. Here are a couple of great exercises from MartialArtsSparring.org
1. Have your partner attack you with a rear punch or kick and you defend with a front kick.
2. Have your partner use multiple types of attacks against you. You must anticipate the attack and counter attack with a front kick to stop them.
Advancing Your Front Kick
Once you get good at a front kick you can use it to cover ground like a boxer does while jabbing. While performing the kick let your base leg slide or hop forward. You can cover a lot of distance this way.
“How to Land the Front Kick.” Martial Arts Sparring, www.martialartssparring.org/how-to-land-the-front-kick.