I can provide a descriptive image if necessary, but it seems reasonably evident to me. Normally, roundhouse kicks deliver a more lateral blow, generally striking and then pulling the leg back whether impact was made or not. However, if your kick is higher than your target, it's also possible to continue the arc of the kick into a downward strike (or at least a more downward diagonal), possibly evading a person's guard by going over it. The strike as with a regular roundhouse, it's still with the instep, the ball of the foot, or the shin. In Capoeira, it becomes more common for people ducking the roundhouse and the attacker continuing to strike down at the dodging opponent (also because the rules of engagement in Capoeira make fully rotating kicks safer since you don't have to worry as much about being struck in the back).

There's a variant of this that you sometimes see as a more acrobatic move in Capoeira or in Kung Fu-inspired martial arts films where it's done as a jumping technique, making a horizontal rotation to land a spinning kick that's lateral compared to your orientation, but vertical in respect to the target. Jackie Chan seemed fond of using it to strike an opponent kneeling or lying on the ground to finish them off. You can see it (briefly) at about 1:34 of https://youtu.be/4YjGxNDPLJA. I feel like that would be a separate technique, but mentioning it on the off chance that having a name for the jumping version might lead to the base technique.

  • I think an image would be helpful although wouldn't you need to know the name to search for it?… Dec 20, 2019 at 8:34
  • @Sardathrion-ReinstateMonica: I will try to get a recording of myself doing it. I tried poking around online... I had a vague memory of Raven from Tekken using it (and therefore would be available with Eric Jacobus doing it IRL), but that was a different technique. Dec 21, 2019 at 15:15
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    I don't have an answer, but man do I love those unexpected direction changes! Such a brilliant art, and gratifying to see that some MMA competitors are able to pull it off.
    – DukeZhou
    Dec 10, 2020 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


From what I read in your post, you might be talking about the Axe Kick. It's a kick where you swing your leg up as far as possible and then kick the opponents head or chest from above with your heel. It is technically possible to turn a roundhouse kick into an axe kick to surprise your opponent, although a lot of the initial energy of the kick will be lost. That said, if your intent was to fake a roundhouse kick, you can slightly change your foot pivot to change direction more gradually mid air. If your opponent has good sight and observation, this won't work. He or she will notice the change in pivot. Pivoting the foot has one very distinct function, that is to change the arc of your kick. For example, facing your toes to the side means you're going for a very horizontal kick. Moving 1 pivot foot backwards before jumping signals at a roundhouse kick. In this move, your foot will be put behind you on the front of your foot, and then using the momentum of the bounce, you jump a little and rotate your front foot during the swing of your leg. If you are truly going for a roundhouse, your front foot will rotate around 270 degrees and then stop with your toes facing outwards, because that allows you to extend your other leg back the furthest. When you change your pivot to have your toes face forward, and swinging your leg closer to your body, you can use less force to get your foot above your opponent quicker, and then use gravity and your muscles to slam your heel down on your opponent.

Sorry for the messy explanation, but try to envision it.

  • Ah, I appreciate your reply, but the strike is with the instep, not the heel. I'll clarify my question. Dec 24, 2019 at 13:03
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    I saw the video you linked, the kick at 1:34 is not really an actual attack in any martial art. It comes from a sport called Tricking. Basically it just looks cool but has no actual value in a fight. The only application I can think of is in Shaolin Kung Fu, which has several of these types of attacks, but they are used mainly for demonstrations. Look up Shaolin Monkey Style.
    – Sjana
    Dec 24, 2019 at 17:41

I have not found a Capoeira name for this, but when I posted on Reddit and got an answer pointing me to the "Brazilian kick" or "question mark kick". It's not quite what I'm thinking (less rotation) but it's the closest I've found.

Otherwise, it seems this is just a variation of martelo rodado, a spinning roundhouse kick with the torso dipping as the leg comes up and continuing the rotation around rather than retracting the leg.

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