While sparring, sometimes I unintentionally use my legs and knees to defend against opponent's kicks. I know it is wrong. I'm just curious why there is no leg defense in Teakwondo?

  • 3
    Why do you think using legs and knees to defend against attack is wrong?
    – Mike P
    Sep 10, 2020 at 11:55

4 Answers 4


The topic pertains to an obscure rule in World Taekwondo rules regarding checking kicks with the knee. The rules state:


Article 14 ("Prohibited acts and penalties") Section 4.1.9 ("Butting or attacking with the knee")

"Butting or attacking with the knee: This article relates to an intentional butting or attacking with the knee when in close proximity to the opponent. However, contact with the knee that happens in the following situations cannot be punished by this article. - When the opponent rushes in abrupt lyat the moment a kick is being executed. - Inadvertently, or as the result of a discrepancy in distance in attacking."

According to rumor, this rule was put in place as a result of Steven Lopez's use of the technique. He was very successful using it, so the rumor was that the rule was added to prevent him and others gaining such an advantage in competition.

I imagine they also saw that this technique would make competitors much more cautious about kicking, which would make sparring look less exciting. It can also cause injuries, particularly broken bones in the foot and leg. So they might have wanted to prevent these injuries.

As for this technique being "wrong", I think others might interpret that word to mean morally wrong. Whereas the original poster probably meant it to mean "against the rules". It is against the rules. Is it morally wrong? No. This is a technique that is used throughout martial arts for defensive purposes. There's nothing wrong about it. It was one of my favorite techniques. I used to do it all the time in Taekwondo.

The next question is why there is no leg defense in Taekwondo. The answer is that there is leg defense. It just can't be checking with the knee. You can still use your shin. You can still use blocks with your hands. And you can still use your feet to block kicks. And of course, you can move your body and get out of the way. Plenty of options.

These are World Taekwondo's rules. I looked but did not see that ITF Taekwondo had this rule. Likely, ITF is more permissive about what you can do in sparring competition.

Also, these are competition rules. Keep in mind that there's a difference between competition and self-defense. While this technique may be banned in competition for the reasons I listed above, it should not be seen as a barrier to using it in self-defense. The problem, though, with that statement is that if you're not practicing it in class, you're probably just going to drop it altogether and will not have it ready for use in self-defense. Mind you, it's not likely you will need it in self-defense, anyway, because not many people square off with you at a distance and throw kicks at you. But who knows.

Competitive martial arts in general is filled with banned techniques that raise the ire of many serious martial artists. Judo, for example, famously banned Kani Basami (the "scissors kick") from competition. This is a beloved technique that many martial arts practice. Many Judo practitioners balked at its removal. It's basically the death knell for the technique, since it won't be practiced anymore. The reason it was banned was because it has a habit of causing crippling knee injuries in competition. But is it good for self-defense? Yes! Many people have made Kani Basami one of their core self-defense techniques.

Hope that helps.


Leg defenses DO exist in Taekwon Do.


Now, why don't people commonly use them in sparring or self defense? That's a question that deserves an answer.

BTW Side rising AND front rising kick are also blocks.

In my case, I don't use leg defenses, simply because, I wasn't taught how to use them in sparring or self defense.

They were taught, almost as an after thought in my dojang. That, even though we were expected to know how to do them as yellow belts.

They were taught as conceptual techniques and not as fighting or self defense techniques.

I don't think any of the Masters in my dojang in Jamaica are even aware that the rising kicks are also blocking/ defensive techniques as well as dynamic stretching exercises.

I've yet to see videos of anyone applying the side rising and front rising kicks defensively.

I'd love to see that. I'll probably have to figure it out and post it myself.

When I do, I'll leave the post here so y'alls can critique me.


  • 1
    I've seen the Side Rising kick used as defence in an Olympic TKD match. His opponent used a Front Kick and he used the Side Rising Kick to brush off the Front Kick. He did so using his rear leg. When pulling it back he used the momentum as force to kick off the ground into a jumping roundhouse, hitting his opponent in the back of the head. It was a beautiful sight, but never was able to find the footage again.
    – Sjana
    Sep 22, 2020 at 14:22

During my sparing training, we group against each other. Tbh the sparing doesn't require us to be serious or let the hit land. So I end up just increase my kicking speed without the intention of hitting. My sparing partner however lift his knee out of surprise and my toe bended after hitting the knee. If I was truly serious kicking that guy and know he would defend a kick that beyond his body reach, I would seriously give a power front kick and knock him out for being stupid. I suffer a permanent injury where I cannot fold my toe (for praying, I am Muslim btw) without feeling pain. After that I retired, I feels so stupid joining the spar just because of someone try to Def seriously in a spar where the senior just asked us just practice hitting.


It is a practice where we are required to switch sparing partner every 1min with different people each switching. So it is very dumb to defend/land hit unless each other already give consent. The one who raised his knee actually a newbie, and he doesn't know about the rule and act on reflex. That's why I cannot be mad at him for doing so.

Imagine kicking wall corner and only your toe land on it with high speed without holding back. Fuck it hurt.


Whys is it wrong? Allot of it depends on how strict your school is. I did tkd and did a 50 50 ratio of kicking/striking which is unorthodox but we are not in the Olympics

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