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Over the last 20 years or so I have been trying to incorporate several styles into one that is suited for my needs. My stance is now pretty much a Karate’s one, but my kicks have elements of Karate, Tae-kwon-do and Muay Thai. Tae-kwon-do kicks are very fast and offer great control for the person who has mastered their way of hip rotation. They also have a good principle of having almost all kicks starting from the same position, with the knee up in front of the body. Thai kicks can be extremely powerful with the leg switches and the sweeping motion. Karate ones have a lot of power behind as well.

I would like to know people’s opinions on the advantages and disadvantages between Mawashi Gheri from Karate and Dollyo Chagi from Tae-kwon-do. Basically, as the links show, the Karate style uses the balls of the feet to hit, by pulling the toes back, whereas the Tae-kwon-do’s style is by using the instep of the foot.

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Jammed toes

I can't speak to the TKD technique, but I found trouble during years of karate with the ball-of-the-foot recommended mawashi geri technique. Many others have done fine with it. For instance, Shokei Matsui shows it to be a formidable technique against the body and the head in his 100-man kumite; he uses it to devastating effect about a half-dozen times starting at 3:00 in this YouTube highlight of the event.

However, I found that in my practice, pulling the toes back resulted in jammed toes more frequently than the other versions of the kick. Stretching and diligence can reduce the incidence of this phenomenon, but it's a common issue. I understand that reducing the surface area of the striking surface increases the effectiveness of blows, but that benefit didn't seem worth the repeated pain. People were plenty unhappy with my instep or ankle hitting them.


Another factor to consider is training gear. If you wear shoes, boots, or foot padding of any kind, your ability to train the toes-back version of many kicks is greatly diminished. I found this not to be a problem with front kicks, but very much an issue with dipped-foam gear combined with mawashigeri. Your mileage may vary, but I recommend working with your equipment rather than against it. If you spar with shinguards or foot protection, I recommend using the shin or instep/ankle as a striking surface for this kick.

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Excellent answer. +1. Amazing video. I had heard about, but never saw it to be honest. I also noticed that by using the balls of the foot, your distance has to be shortened a bit too. It is interesting to see that the kick he hits the guy (at 3:05) comes from the front just like the tae-kwon-do style (knee up to the front, then the hip rotation to whip the foot to the face). Thanks for that, Dave. –  Lex Mar 22 '13 at 17:12
@Lex You're right about the distance element; I'd forgotten. Of course that's even more of an issue with the muay Thai round kick using the shin, which is still very effective. Personally I get a lot of mileage out of the "question mark" setup (i.e., chambering like a front kick) for the roundhouse kick to the head. –  Dave Liepmann Mar 22 '13 at 17:17
I think this answer is great, but I would like to throw out that from the Taekwondo perspective, traditional styles use both the instep and the ball of the foot for striking - different techniques for different activities (flat foot for training/sparring with partners, ball of foot for breaking things and opponents). –  rjstreet Mar 22 '13 at 18:34
@rjstreet Point taken. Thanks for that. –  Lex Mar 22 '13 at 23:38

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