Side Kick vs. Roundhouse Kick

It has been quite a while since I posted a rant addressing one of my many pet peeves.  This post is probably way overdue.  I had intended on writing this post some time ago but just put it on the back burner.  Now that my studio is starting to open back up, I am seeing more brand new students which has inspired me to write about the difference between the side kick and the roundhouse kick.

Except for the base foot pivot, a side kick and a roundhouse kick have absolutely nothing in common.  So why is it that so many students execute these two kicks in a similar manner?  My guess is that there are a lot of body mechanics going on that students can’t get them all down when first learning the kicks.  Bad habits are formed that are never broken.

Before dissecting the two kicks, we first need to understand the trajectories of each kick.  The simple graphic below shows that a side kick goes in a straight line from the foot to the target.  A roundhouse on the other hand travels on a curved patch to the target.  Hence “around the house”.

Side Kick/Roundhouse Kick Trajectory
Figure 1: Side Kick/Roundhouse Kick Trajectory

Now that we have defined the trajectory of each kick, let’s look at each part of the kicks.  To do that, we will look at three points for each kick:

  1. Initial knee chamber
  2. Extended kick position
  3. Retracted knee chamber

Side Kick/Roundhouse Kick Initial Knee Chamber

This position is the first part in any kick and is arguably the most important.  The initial knee chamber position will determine where the kick ends up.  Figure 2 shows the initial knee chamber position for the side kick and the roundhouse kick.

Figure 2a: Initial Side Kick Knee Chamber
Figure 2b: Initial Roundhouse Kick Knee Chamber

You can see that the side kick knee chamber has the kicking foot next to the base leg knee, the kicking leg knee off to the side, and the hip pointed at the eventual target.

The roundhouse knee chamber position has the kicking foot pulled back towards the rear with the kicking leg knee in front and pointed at the target.

Extended Kick Position

When you look at the extended kick position on its own, you don’t get much information.  The two kicks look roughly the same.  The extended kick position for the side kick has the knife edge of the foot as the contact point.  For this example, I show a roundhouse kick executed with the top of the foot.  If I should a ball of the foot roundhouse, the kicks would be even more similar.

For the extended kick images to be of any value, you need to use the initial knee chamber image to see how the kicking foot got to that position.  Figure 3 shows both the knee chamber positions (again) and the extended kick positions for the side kick and roundhouse kick.

Figure 3a: Initial Side Kick Knee Chamber Position
Figure 3b: Final Side Kick Position
Figure 3c: Initial Roundhouse Kick Knee Chamber Position
Figure 3d: Final Roundhouse Kick Position

Retracted Knee Chamber

For any kick to be effective, you not only need to get the kick to its target, you also need to retract it correctly.  Correct retraction will allow for better defensive evasion, ensuring your kick does not get grabbed, and will create better multiple technique offensive combinations.

When you look at the retracted knee chamber images, they look exactly like the initial knee chamber images.  That is not an error.  Both kicks need to come back the same way they went out.  Again, putting all three images together will give you a better visual of each kick, which is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4a: Initial Side Kick Knee Chamber Position
Figure 4b: Final Side Kick Position
Figure 4c: Retracted Side Kick Knee Chamber Position
Figure 4d: Initial Roundhouse Kick Knee Chamber Position

Figure 4e: Final Roundhouse Kick Position
Figure 4f: Retracted Roundhouse Kick Knee Chamber Position

The main reason I show the retracted knee chamber position is because I often see people execute a great side kick only to bring it back like a roundhouse kick.

So, now you know the correct mechanics of the side kick and roundhouse kick.  Be sure to consciencely practice each kick differently.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply