A lot of techniques in Hapkido have clear derivations from other arts. A lot of our kicks come from either TKD or from a parent art of TKD, while a lot of the hand-techniques seem to be derived from Daito-ryu. The implementation tends to vary a bit from the parent arts and even between schools, but the fundamentals of the techniques look quite similar.

I am, however, curious about the backspinning heel kick. Note the differences between that technique and what we call a backspinning hook kick, which a lot of taekwondo schools refer to as a heel kick (in the heel kick the leg doesn't bend while striking).

Some TKD schools do practice a heel kick like it shows up in HKD, but according to my instructor they borrowed these techniques from HKD rather than the other way around. I do not know if this is true, but I haven't seen it much outside of HKD and since I've been working on the details of this kick recently I figured I'd ask here.

So my question is two part:

  1. What other arts practice a backspinning heel kick, as distinct from a hook kick?
  2. Does anyone know the origin–likely or just potential–of this kick in HKD?
  • 1
    Axe kicks, Spin heel kick, and spinning back kick's origin is in Taekkyun.
    – user4272
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 22:04
  • Under general comments, I have frequently had people in Hapkido claim that the Hapkido method of doing a spinning heel kick, dipping the lower body close to the ground as per the Capoeira Meia Lua Compasso, has its origins in throwing rocks, namely that the purpose of the kick was as much to keep the opponent at bay while picking up a stone. Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 17:32

5 Answers 5

  1. I'm aware of Tang Soo Do and at least some forms of Karate having a spinning heel kick, but beyond the Korean martial arts and Karate, I'm not aware of any (though it seems likely that there is at least a related move in Capoeira and some styles of Kung Fu).
  2. In Alex Gillis' A Killing Art (a heavily sourced origin of modern Taekwondo), Gillis relates an incident where Jong-Soo Park demonstrates a kick that could only be identified as a spinning heel kick to Choi (sometime around 1964). Choi is so taken with the kick that he adds it to his manual under the name Bandae Dollyo Chagi (reverse turning kick), a heading that covers spin side kicks, spin heel kicks and spin hook kicks. That said, Gillis actually attributes the origin of the kick (in TKD at least) to Woo Jong-Lim (sometime in the 1950's), though Jong-Lim never applied the kick to sparring or competition (that I'm aware of). Neither Park or Jong-Lim had exposure to Hapkido at this point according to what I've been able to see. It's actually very likely that the technique evolved within the various Korean martial arts in roughly the same time frame thanks to a very healthy tournament circuit.

The techniques you describe are two separate techniques in Taekwon-do, at least in ITF Taekwon-do. The spinning heel kick is called bandae dollyo chagi and the spinning hook kick is called bandae goro chagi.

Since Hapkido is a Korean martial art it may have its roots in Taek Kyon which as far as I know was mainly a kicking art which was also one of the arts that were at the base of Taekwon-do.

This kicks are all described in the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-do written by general Choi Hong Hi.


So far as my knowledge reaches, I can only answer the first part of your question.

Yes, there are many arts which practice the spinning kick. My favorite: Capoeira. The "back spinning heel kick" is generally known as "Meia Lua de Compasso"—variations may apply. The "back spinning hook kick" is known as the "Gancho"—again, variations may apply across schools

  • Just to comment, Armada is closer to an outside spinning crescent kick, striking with the blade of the foot. Meia lua de compasso is more like the Hapkido spinning heel kick, striking with the heel and also doing the "dip the torso close to the ground" part of things. Although, as you noted, the names do very a lot between schools. Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 12:37
  • @SeanDuggan You're right. I am the one who performs these kicks wrong. My Armada lands the hit with the heel.
    – Igbanam
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 14:11

Moon Hwan Lee set up a taekwondo school in Australia in the '70s, and it's grown independently since (under his direction) - notably not incorporating many changes which happened in Korea during the late '70s and '80s.

We have a kick which we call spinning-hook kick or spinning-heel kick which is identical to the backspinning hook kick described. The heel kick, however, is something we actively avoid - any spinning kick striking with the heel uses the hook technique. We usually describe it as a 'hallway' kick - you should be able to perform it in a narrow hallway without touching the walls.

This tends to suggest that taekwondo may not have incorporated the heel kick you're describing when Moon Lee left for Australia, in the early '70s, but that it's been incorporated since.


My understanding is that this was a technique used in Hwa Rang Do. Since the founder of the modern system also was part of the organizing group in Korean Hapkido, it's easy to see how it could have been shared there and spread outward.

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