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I have very limited mobility in my toe joints, to the extent that I can't pull my toes back the way you need to to perform a front kick, so currently the only forward kicks I know I can manage are axe kicks (where you hit as the leg comes back down) or pushing kicks (where I can get the ball of the foot up high enough to push) as everything else I try ends up hitting with my toes.

My physio says mobility isn't likely to improve in the future, so are there other front kicks which would be possible for me?

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I've heard my teacher recommend people with the same problem to sit in seiza but with the toes pointed down. If you do this every day for half an hour (e.g. when watching tv at home) your toe joints should become more flexible. Use a pillow when sitting on a hard surface. –  THelper Feb 2 '12 at 13:45
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Sadly, no - have tried many things over the years. The problem is the bones just don't allow my toes to move up or down more than a couple of millimetres. Not sure whether it was caused by all the running I did when younger - can't remember what they were like before that. –  Rory Alsop Feb 2 '12 at 13:55
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I can think of two:

  • Heel front kick. As @Sean Patrick Floyd said, it's more of a thrust kick
  • Toe front kick. Basically, you will kick straight in, with your toes into the target. The target, in this instance, is the abdominal waist band muscles. The direction of the strike is in and down.

I do not recommend the toe front kick lightly - for most people who aren't trained that way, it's a great way to break toes. Play with it a little, very lightly, and experience for yourself the amount of flexibility and pain that you have.

@THelper recommended sitting in seiza for a while - not a bad way to increase flexibility, but it sounds like what you need is actually sitting for a while, moving your toes up and down, maybe isolating one and moving it with your fingers (gently, of course!) while exercising the muscles (gently, of course!). After a few years, you might get an improvement. The body DOES change based on what you ask of it - but bone changes take a long, long time.

An art like taichi, done properly, is very good for any and all flexibility. Working the entire body takes the boredom out of focusing on solely your toes, and you might get results at the same speed or faster.

Or not. Your mileage may vary.

Hope this helps.

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"The Stomp / Push / Teep" kick

an effective frontkick. Imagine the kind of kick you'd use if you were trying to kick a door in. You make contact with the flat of your foot.

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Several arts teach front kicks using the heel. That should work for you. It has more power, but less speed and reach.

The movement is also slightly different, it's less of a snap and more of a thrust.

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If your mobility difficulties are limited to your toes, then crescent kicks might be another option for you. They start out similarly to a front kick, but you aim slightly to one side of your target and then snap your leg around in a crescent motion to connect with the inside or outside edges of your foot.

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