I've read that tons of time on forums and heard it in many videos.

The explanations always seem kind of vague and to this day I can't explain what it is to "chamber a kick". I know it's very important, maybe I'm already doing it (I probably am, I have some years of training behind me).

The main problem might be that I'm French, so the signification of "chambering" isn't clear to me.

So, what does it imply to chamber a kick? There probably is a "canon definition". What are the steps towards this?

I'd like a "canon answer", to try and make this a reference for anyone who'd have this question in the future.

  • I always assumed that it is an analogy to putting a round into the chamber of a firearm: see this. Thus, to chamber something means to get ready to fire it. Nov 17 '15 at 15:24

Chambering is an analogy drawn from firearms. In firearms, you chamber a round (put a bullet in the chamber). In the same way as you chamber a round in firearms, you can chamber a kick to "fire" it. This is very probably an American saying in martial arts.

When one refers to chambering a technique (any technique, but in this case a kick), they mean fully drawing back the technique in preparation for exploding forward. In looking for images to illustrate this point, I was disappointed because I cannot find an example of a good chamber for a sidekick. So I'm going to ask you to use your imagination. enter image description here

In image #4 this is what we mean by chambering a sidekick. This stylist is illustrating a poor chamber. His knee should be tightly tucked into his chest instead of far out from his body, and his heel should be pointing directly out at his target. Thus, when executed, the sidekick should pump quickly and powerfully out, then retract back in like a piston.


To further illustrate the point, the following is a sequence of throwing a front kick. There are twelve images. If we number those images top to bottom, left to right, the 9th and 11th images are chambers for a front kick.

front kick

Likewise, in the image series below, images #10 and #12 are chambers for a round kick.

enter image description here

A chamber is, very simply, the inverse of the executed technique. To use a punch as an analogy, the fist on the hip is the chamber, whereas the fist that is punching is the technique. Notice that the chambered fist is exactly the opposite of the punch. It is supinated, whereas the punch is pronated. When the chambered fist is thrown it will twist. There is some yin/yang stuff going on here, but it need not be thought of esoterically, but rather as physics.

straight punch

Chambering adds power to the kick

By chambering the kick fully (especially in the example of the sidekick) you are adding power to your kick in two ways:

  1. By fully drawing back, you are increasing the distance your kick will have to travel. The further it has to travel, the more speed it will develop en route to its target, and therefore the harder the impact will be. This is a game of inches, so drawing back even a little more than you could before will help.
  2. By fully drawing back, you are targeting the area of your opponent's body that you want to hit. Your kick will follow a straight trajectory to the target. Any deviance from a straight trajectory (i.e. "sweeping your kick") will detract power from your kick. This is true in round kicks and other circular kicks as well, though in those cases the trajectory is circular, not straight, but still should be as direct as possible and deviate as little as possible from its trajectory.
  • I'm sorry but I still don't get it. Would it mean that the definition of a chambered kick is different according to each kick? For example, would a round kick have the same "pattern"? Is the chambering muscle-related? What differences does it make in the impact to chamber the kick? (Should I add these questions in an edit to my OP?)
    – IEatBagels
    Nov 17 '15 at 15:35
  • 1
    I think this is fine as a comment. No, each kick would have a different chamber. I'll add some images to illustrate this point. The "chamber" for a round kick will be different from that of a side kick. The act of fully drawing back in preparation for throwing the kick is the chamber. Nov 17 '15 at 15:38
  • THAT is a good answer! :D Thanks a lot, it's crystal clear now.
    – IEatBagels
    Nov 17 '15 at 16:36
  • Glad I could help :) Good luck in your training. Nov 17 '15 at 16:41
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    As regards different chambers for different kicks, that's style-dependent. Some styles use the same chamber for, e.g., a front, side, and round kick, the raised knee in the front. In doing so, it helps disguise just what kick you're going to throw although, in my opinion, it's a bit more awkward for some of the kicks. Nov 17 '15 at 19:21

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