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I've noticed in a lot of kick-boxing, competitors often make certain kicks, such as the roundhouse, while the ground foot is up on the toes.

I ask b/c in the systems I trained, teachers always required students to keep the ground foot fully flat while executing kicks. (Students will often go up on the toes to get a little extra height.) While there are certain strikes and kicks in these systems that take place from a jump, using the force of the jump to add power, my sense is that can't generate as much power as a strike with the foot fully rooted.

  • Is going up on the toes to make a kick correct or a bad habit?

In other words, is there a sound martial, strategic, or competitive reason for going up on the toes?

  • Not a full duplicate, but martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/216/… has some good answers. – Macaco Branco Nov 6 at 14:50
  • The main reason kickboxers or MT fighters go up on the balls of their foot while throwing the roundhouse is that it helps with faster pivoting, which essentially translates to more power. Note that going up on the toes is a result of the momentum of the head kick bringing the striker in the air. That happens after pivoting on the balls of the foot. – RoundHouse Nov 8 at 7:52
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As a general rule, the higher you go up on your toes (well, really, the ball of the foot unless you're doing ballet), the more you reduce stability and power, but conversely you gain a bit in height/distance and increased flexibility/mobility. If that inch makes the difference between hitting your opponent or not (particularly if they've opted to try to just dodge out of the way without raising their hands), it may very well be worthwhile to hit a little bit softer just so that you can hit. And if your ankles or knees aren't flexible enough to complete a kick, going up on the ball of your foot, even lifting the heel half an inch, makes pivoting easier, which may protect your joints on hits or misses.

One possible exception (which I don't think is what you're going for, is when you're on the ball of the foot because you're getting a little bit of extra distance/bracing kicking forward, like stepping into a hard front push kick so that your bracing foot is behind you and your hips and torso are driving forward with the kick.

One caveat to that is that you should keep your weight on your foot. A bad habit to fall into when going up on the ball of your foot is letting that momentum lift you up, which greatly reduces stability and increases the chance of being swept or otherwise knocked down.

Lastly, in some styles, the instability can be useful, particularly if competitors are not allowed to strike a downed opponent. I know Tae Kwan Do is a frequent whipping boy here, but their rules at one point incentivized kicking and then falling because it prevented counter-attacks.

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  • Marco, thanks for this answer. (I'm going to hold off accepting to see if anything else pops up, but you've fully answered my question, your point about momentum especially, in that it sheds light on how to use this strategic technique properly.) – DukeZhou Nov 6 at 23:26
  • No worries, glad to help. Did you check out that other question too? – Macaco Branco Nov 6 at 23:40
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    I did, and I understand now why I didn't find it in search—I was using "toes" instead of "ball", but I'm glad this also served as a caution against the bad habit of going up on toes, as opposed to the legitimate technique of going up on the ball of the foot. – DukeZhou Nov 6 at 23:44

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