What sets Taekwondo apart from a lot of other martial arts is the fact that it uses a lot of kicks. Don’t get me wrong, you will probably start out by learning the basics, such as a front kick, side kick and roundhouse kick. Once you’ve got these figured out though, things can get very interesting – especially when it comes to the aerial kicks Taekwondo can teach you.
Take a basic kick such as the side kick and add an aerial element, what you get is a signature kick that so many martial arts movies have modelled themselves on. Admittedly, the flying side kick has been done to death, and can appear cheesy at times – but it doesn’t change the fact it’s iconic.
So, what we’ve decided to do is gather up some of the best aerial kicks from Taekwondo and include them all in one post. The first few are more elementary in nature, but in order to be successful at the more complicated kicks, you’re going to have to start somewhere and work your way up.
Having practiced Taekwondo for a number of years and managing to learn some of these kicks, my personal advice would be to find a local gym that has a sprung floor. It’s going to make it a little bit easier to get the height you need to pull these kicks off, not to mention the fact it’s a softer landing for the times you just seem to fall out of the air.
As with any highly explosive movement that involves leaping into the air, make sure you’re warmed up properly. Take the necessary safety precautions as well, because we can’t be held responsible for any injuries you might incur. That being said, we’re sure you can pull these off with enough practice, so get to it! Any one of these impressive aerial kicks could be your new party trick.
1. Jumping Front Kick
A front kick is one of the simplest moves out there, so it makes sense that a jumping front kick wouldn’t be that hard to achieve either. After you’ve got the front kick nailed, learn how to do a skipping front kick. All that’s involved is bringing the back foot forward and then jumping off the other leg to perform the kick. Once you’ve got that, a jumping front kick involves stepping your feet together and jumping vertically while performing the kick.
2. Flying Side Kick
Here’s the old favorite of Hollywood and anyone else who wants to create a “tongue in cheek” martial arts movie.
You know the scene, the hero of the movie is suitable annoyed and takes a run at his opponent. Just before he leaves the ground, the camera switches to our villain – just before said hero comes hurtling into view of the camera, bringing with him a flying side kick of death.
While it’s showy – and normally the victim of cinematography – the kick can be used practically as well. We’re not going to show you that though, so here’s Bruce Lee doing his thing instead.
3. Jumping Back Kick
If you’ve ever received a back kick, you know there is a lot of power behind it – being knocked on your back isn’t uncommon.
The jumping back kick loses a bit of that power because your center of gravity is no longer there (you’re in the air remember). But while it’s less powerful, it’s more flexible. If you jump backwards and kick, it can be defensive and push your opponents away. If you jump forward, it can be offensive and throw your opponent off balance.
The choice is yours!
4. Jump Spin Hook Kick
You could consider this kick a precursor to the 360 hook kick and 540 hook kick. It comes off two feet and doesn’t require as much rotation.
Because it’s a precursor, we thought it made sense to put it on the list. We have no doubt that
all some of you could go straight to a 540 hook kick. But let’s not get crazy, or injured shall we?
As you can see from the video, with a good amount of flexibility this kick looks impressive, despite it’s relative ease.
5. Jumping Split Kick
This move requires flexibility more than anything to be truly impressive. As your flexibility increases, so too does the wow factor of the jumping split kick.
An alternate version is a kick that looks something like the front splits, while performed a few feet in the air. This is the preference of XMA practitioners over the more traditional split kick, which isn’t quite as dynamic.
6. 360 Turning Kick/Tornado Kick
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to refer to this kick as the tornado kick. Not only is this kick pretty easy to learn, it’s quick!
As well as being quick, it can be quite confusing for an opponent trying to figure out what you’re going to do. Obviously if they’re good, they can throw a simple front kick, or something similar and knock you out of the air. Otherwise, you’ve got a good chance of creating confusion, before landing a pretty powerful aerial kick. This technique makes it’s way into competitions a lot, which just goes to show how effective it can be.
7. 360 Hook Kick
Plain and simply, this is a very nice kick. Because it uses the heel, it’s going to a lot of damage. This makes it deadly if used in a real-life situation – but you need nerves of steel to pull an aerial kick off under pressure.
Otherwise, it’s a kick that looks slightly more complicated than it actually is. The kind of technique pull out if anyone challenges you to prove that you’re really a martial artist.
Just to drive home the point that it’s relatively simple to learn, here’s an eight year old pulling off the kick, quite nicely as well.
8. 540 Roundhouse Kick
This kick is the bread and butter of most Xtreme Martial Arts (XMA) practitioners. Once you’ve figured out how to perform this aerial kick, we’re quite confident you can call yourself an Xtreme martial artist.
There’s no denying that this kick looks sexy, very sexy. Most of the momentum comes from the initial spin and then when you throw the kick, it whips your body back around into the starting position.
The video below was chosen because this guy can pull off a very smooth, high and powerful kick. As you can see how quick this aerial kick can be, you’ll want to find a tutorial that slows things down for the foot movement.
9. 540 Hook Kick/Cheat 720 Kick
Much like the 540 roundhouse kick, the 540 hook kick is practically the same movement – with one key difference. Instead of whipping your leg over to perform the kick, you continue the spin for a fraction of a second longer, throwing a hook kick as your other leg starts to move towards the ground for a landing.
This kick doesn’t look as fast as the 540 roundhouse but it definitely has an air of complexity, much like the already mentioned 360 hook kick. It’s probably not something you want to try in competition – but just to contradict myself – here’s a video of someone performing it in competition.
10. 720 Kick/720 Triple Kick
This is where things start to get really hard – and slightly confusing when it comes to names. This aerial kick is not only going to make you dizzy from the amount of spinning you have to do, but it also requires a lot of power and speed to execute properly.
Thankfully, if you learn this kick
well perfectly – you will have reached idol status amongst many Taekwondo practitioners. No longer the humble amateur, but something of a seasoned pro, or at least a damn good kicker!
Behaving somewhat like a shape shifter, there are variations of this move, depending on the number of strikes. One kick is cool, two is impressive, and three is insanity.
Watch for the triple board break in this video, you won’t be disappointed.
Ok, now it’s your turn!
Tell us how many of these kicks you’ve managed to get under your belt, which ones you’re currently working on, or if you’re not a martial artist, which ones you thought were most impressive.
Don’t hold back, get involved and leave a comment – or at least show some of your friends the kinds of kicks they could be pulling off with a little bit of practice.