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I have seen some knockout videos of the Rolling Wheel Kick mostly used by Kyokushin Karate practitioners.

I wanted to know if it was invented just for that sport, or for fighting and brawling as well. It seems that throwing your kick head down is very risky and probably hazardous on rough surface or even hard surface.

Or there is special technique and training that needs to be mastered to hit that anywhere?

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To answer your question quite literally: yes it can, but you risk injury.

It's important to note that kicks like this are simply one of the options available to you, they're one of the tools in the toolkit. But in reality you will have very few - if any - opportunities to use this type of kick because it requires both significant practice, and careful setup or distancing. The kick itself is quite slow and works best as a fight finisher against an opponent who is already almost finished.

While this linked video is cherry picked because it suits my argument, it still illustrates a number of important things about the kick:

  • it is considerably slower and less accurate than other kicks you have in your arsenal
  • the opponent only has to move slightly off line for the kick to become mostly or wholly ineffective
  • you can easily injure yourself even when hitting the opponent flush due to connecting with the wrong part of your foot/heel
  • it is best used on a padded floor, i.e. in a tournament setting
  • the video looks spectacular but can be misleading as it shows only successful usage of the kick, it doesn't show any instances of the kick failing (nobody wants to compile a collection of failed kicks!)
  • but even in this video, if you look closely you will see a number of times the kick doesn't land well (the kicker hits with the calf, the soft part of the heel, side of the shin, the ankle)
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I'm not a Kyokushin practitioner, but my understanding is that the technique was not invented for tournaments. That said, it's also not one generally useful for open combat as it is, as you note, a technique that can leave you in a bad position after the attack. Just to clear up one thing, if you miss with the kick, you are essentially doing a forward roll, which is a technique many martial artists learn to do on hard surfaces. Yes, you do face some additional risk from uneven or broken surfaces, but presumably that's part of what you consider when you decide whether to use it. And if you land it solidly, your opponent helps cushion the impact, so that helps there. What is potentially more dangerous, based on my experiences with similar flipping kicks in Capoeira, is partial hits. Actually hitting with one of these kicks will rob you of some of your momentum, and may change your direction of movement as you are deflected, which puts you at greater risk for landing badly, whether it's on the head or spine, or awkwardly catching yourself with your limbs. Even if you avoid damage on impact, you are likely now on the ground, which is a bad place to be if your opponent is still standing and able to capitalize on it, or they have buddies. Ideally, you should do some training against resistance to learn how to recover, and how to protect yourself in the case of a fall.

So where does this kick potentially come in handy? Well, generally it would be used in a one-on-one situation where you have only one opponent. It is a very powerful kick, and might be a decent way to break through a guard, or to strike a larger opponent, in a one-on-one situation. And in the case of a retreating opponent, it has the potential to attack while keeping in attacking distance. Even with a miss, you may be able to roll right back up to your feet and be within striking distance. Lastly, it might be a useful thing to train for those situations where you do lose your footing and want to try to salvage it into an attack. Ultimately, it's not a technique I'd have in my usual arsenal for a fight, but I see a definite benefit in learning it, both so that it could be used where appropriate and also, as with other flipping techniques, to teach air awareness for the situation where you have no choice but to be inverted during a fight.

Lastly, there is one other aspect to jumping, flying, and flipping kicks like this that's relevant to self defense, but less directly. Namely, because these attacks look impressive, they can sometimes be used to intimidate attackers to convince them not to fight you. Personally, I think the converse can also happen, where doing an impressive technique can lead to people wanting to fight you because of that, but there is a degree to which a drop-kick or even a non-offensive flip can lead to people going "Hey, that guy knows some moves... maybe I will take him up on buying me a beer to replace the one I spilled when he bumped into me."

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  • one on one situation with some distance sounds like a Tournament situation and other risk you already described i also thought same. but still you don't think that its not invented for tournament only that strange. Jan 31 at 14:08
  • @NisargDesai Funnily enough, as I understand it, the Rolling Thunder kick is generally most effective at close range. At a longer range, it's too telegraphed. Jan 31 at 14:23
  • youtube.com/watch?v=TSko3SVeW94 is an interesting watch about why one might learn flying and spinning kicks. Jan 31 at 14:32
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    actually there are multiple versions (Mae/front, Mawashi/Round, Ura Mawashi/Hook and Yoko means side) of that kick in long distance version they do band them self and jump and hit so it could be less telegraphed and quick mostly Yoko Kaitan Geri (Side Rolling Wheel Kick) or Mawashi Kaitan Geri (Roundouse Rolling Wheel Kick) is used from distance. Thanks for the link by the way everyone has their perspectives. Feb 2 at 9:38
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    @NisargDesai: Fair enough. :) Like I said, not my style. It would be nice if we could get someone more expert to weigh in on when the kick was introduced. Feb 2 at 12:01

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