I am new to Kyokushin karate, and I am trying to learn how to do a "proper" mawashi geri. I have read through several posts on this site, in regards to this issue.

The "proper" karate form for mawashi geri involves what seems to be an impossible motion where your knee goes to the side and such, where I feel like my femoral head is hitting my pelvis. I can maybe kick as high as someone's pelvis. To emphasize, I don't feel tightness (i.e. stretching issue), I feel like it's an unnatural motion.

However, when watching full contact karate tournaments, the kick most often performed (what I believe to be mawashi geri) is a combination of a mae geri (front kick) and mawashi geri. Performing this kick, I can strike my opponents head no problem.

Essentially, I am confused as to what I should be practicing? I suppose for grading purposes, I should practice the "proper" form?

Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated!

  • 1
    So having spent quite a bit of time on this, I believe I may have come to a result. I discovered I have a anterior tilted pelvis, essentially I tend to stick my butt out (curving in my spine). I discovered when I push my butt in (or shift my pelvis anterior), I do not get any issues. I also feel how weak certain muscle groups are. From what I have read, this has do to having very strong hip flexors, and weak gluts / core. I have been utilizing exercises focused on minimizing the use of my hip flexors, while working on my gluts and core. Huge improvement!
    – Shinobii
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


In my experience (~5 years of Shin Kyokushin in Tokyo - after ~25 years of other arts), Kyokushin tends to accept whatever you can make work in sparring, and doesn't care too much whether your mawashi geri has a healthy dose of maegeri in there, even in gradings. But individual instructors and examiners may vary.

Of the kicks in the video you link, several are impressive in their minimalism and effectiveness, but the kick at 1:59 stands out as a great example of what's possible if you have great flexibility: he's rotated the hips over a bit more than most of the kickers, so the top hip is close to the top of its arc and moving closer to horizontally at impact. If you can do something like that, it's easier to clear the opponent's guard and shoulder, and he's completely messed with the timing of the attempted block. (Kyokushin fighter Glaube Feitosa does something similar in this video - the slow motion at 0:54 is worth watching).

It's something to aspire to. I wouldn't worry about it too much though - just keep stretching and kicking high and relaxed at least a few times a week, and see what happens for you. During pad and bag work, make sure your kicks are making reasonably impact, even if not at the ideal horizontal angle, and let that improve over time. For the low kicks where you don't have to compromise, make sure they're rock solid.

An even fuller rotation - where the toes of the back foot end up pointing backwards before impact and the kicking hip has rotated over and past the supporting leg's hip, with the body linear and top shoulder rotated over - is used in some arts (e.g. short slow demo execution). That's rarely seen in kyokushin, as kyokushin tends to be keeping the body squarer to facilitate recovery into a fighting stance, using the kicking leg to kick again or block a low counter-kick, and follow up with hand techniques. In Kyokushin you will see a looser kick that rolls right over and is fairly often followed by ushiro mawashi geri (or the threat thereof), normally employed at more of a distance when the opponent's already backpedalling so is unlikely to be able to close the gap during the much longer recovery period wherein it's relatively difficult for you to defend.

  • Thanks, I appreciate your comments in regards to the video. The lack of squareness is what I was confused about as well, when performing a "proper" mawashi geri.
    – Shinobii
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 15:07

I know this is an old question with an accepted answer but I'd like to add an important aspect.

The questions states

...where your knee goes to the side and such, where I feel like my femoral head is hitting my pelvis.

Although it is the neck of the femur and not the head as such, this actually is a thing. It is called a Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) Syndrome. Happens mostly with young, strong, sportive men. It means either the pelvis side or the femur side of the joint has some excess bone structures that impair the range of motion because bone hits bone when it shouldn't.

Since this is a biomechanical condition, given if it is the case (radiological diagnosis should be seeked), one would just have to design the training regimen (given it induces pain) and techniques one trains and uses around that.

  • I really appreciate the advice! I have found with more practice (and thousands of kicks later), that the issue has subsided. That being said, this may help others out there, so thanks!
    – Shinobii
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 4:29

This could be a ligament-stretching issue rather than a muscle-stretching issue, which is why it doesn't feel like stiffness.

There are 2 stretches that can help with this: One is a partnered-stretch, the other you can do on your own.

For the partnered stretch: kneel down, knees and feel apart, with your body and arms out in front. Your partner puts their feet on the inside of you knees, and uses them to push your knees out and applies (gentle!) pressure down on your hips.

For the solo stretch: Stand on one leg, with the other one folded. Hold the middle of the shin, and pull the leg out sideways (with the shin parallel to the ground) Early days, focus on pulling the leg up - ideally, once you get used to it, you want to be trying to keep the body as upright as possible at the same time

As for "which to practice": using the full version when performing kihon is better for building up the muscles to make both versions of the kick stronger and faster. Using the fast version for renraku and kumite is, well, faster. After all, when sparring, you don't pull your fist all the way behind your head before using Soto Uke!

  • Perfect, I stretch twice daily, I will implement this solo technique you mentioned. I see what your saying about the kumite vs kihon. Thanks, really appreciate the comments!
    – Shinobii
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 15:05

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