In martial arts there are different ways to execute the roundhouse kick. Some kicks are felt like a whip and some are like a huge blow. For example, in karate a roundhouse kick uses the ball of the foot but in taekwondo the instep is used. Some use the knee and the elasticity of the leg and some use the whole body power by shifting the body weight on the side where kick is thrown.

What is the most effective method for the roundhouse kick?

  • Just tell about the roundhouse kick because it is delivered in many ways, sometimes by shin, ball of the foot, toes and instep.. which is most effective..? Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 10:30
  • The answers to this question directly compare versions of the round kick in karate and tkd martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/1853/… Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 12:11
  • 2
    Most effective for...? Sparring? Forms? Self defense? Exercise? Impressing the ladies? Every art has a roundhouse kick, and in every art the striking surface can be instep, shin, ball of foot, etc., and each strike has a different purpose. Your question is very vague.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 14:53

3 Answers 3


What is the most effective method for the roundhouse kick?

You've got a one-adjective criteria there, and a vague one: effective.

Overall effectiveness might reasonably be defined as what helps you win reliably, or perhaps you'd prefer something less reliable if it meant the average or median injury you sustain is less even though the worst case outcome's less favourable. That kind of analysis depends on your opponent(s) as much as you, because the quality of their defense, conditioning, and counter-attacks determine whether you'll be able to use your roundhouse effectively. An incredibly powerful but overly telegraphed roundhouse might be useless against a very agile opponent, while a fast flicky kick might do insufficient damage against most targets on a larger, stronger opponent. It does depends on the target though - a flicky but "clean" kick to the jaw should still be a knockout. Trying to take someone out through thigh kicks, or breaking down a guard, needs more power than a kick to the floating rib or liver but will likely be less effective anyway.

Effectiveness of a kick is also a result of the unpredictability of the timing, catching the opponent moving the wrong way, coming in at an unexpected angle e.g. a very few people have the flexibility to lift the knee higher mid-kick and kick downwards into the neck, another variation needing less flexibility is to drop the knee while turning the torso away from the opponent and swinging the lower leg down into the opponent's face.

So - lots of considerations for any meaningful measure of effectiveness....


I teach Kyokushin karate and I've taught the many different ways a roundhouse kick can be executed. However these can be boiled by 2 different characteristics: the striking area (i.e. Ball of feet, instep and lower shin) and the power mechanics. With power mechanics there are 3 distinct forms:

  • 1st the TKD style where the leg is brought up vertically like a front kick with knees bent and the hips are turned at the last minute where the feet are flipped out.
  • 2nd, the traditional karate style where the knee is cocked but the leg is already horizontal to the ground at the sides. Both the these styles use the quads for power. The tkd style is quicker, deceptive but has slightly less power than the traditional karate style which because of the longer distance the foot has to travel is less deceptive, slightly slower in terms of reaction time but gives more control where the foot is expected to be pulled back to prevent it being caught and gives the fighter more balance.
  • The 3rd style is where want swings the leg like a baseball bat ala Muay Thai style. This is obviously the most powerful but it is not deceptive and will unbalance the fighter if the target is missed, thus exposing him especially his sides and back. Hence one would use any of these style of kicks depending on the situation.

For striking areas, I tend to use my shins when targeting the thighs and ribs, swinging my leg like a bat. I also use the ball of my feet for ribs and neck using a traditional karate style of delivery. In prolonged fights when I tire out (eg 30 man Kumite) I would conserve energy and use the ball of my feet. It requires more skill to use. On insteps, I tend to use it for high kicks to the jaw, temple or back of ear. I would use the tkd style as it is deceptive, forcing my opponent to execute a low block in anticipation of a front kick to the midsection. All in all I would all the different type of roundhouse whenever I fight. It keeps my opponent guessing.


The most effective way to do it is shown below: Swing Kick

In Butthan martial art, it is called Swing Kick. And the motion shown in the image produces the most power. Striking with lower part of Shin bone causes most damage (Shin bone has to be conditioned well enough).

enter image description here

  • I can see where that might be the most effective way to perform it in your martial art, but can you provide any proof that it's the most effective way to throw the kick in general? If so, that would be useful. Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 21:03

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