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Advanced Kicking Drills 蹴り

The following drills are suitable for advanced students who wish to take their learned basics to the next level for effective application in sparring.

Mawashi-geri pivot drill

The "full pivot" drill

Often students only turn their supporting foot 45 to 90 degrees when executing a mawashi-geri.  This limits the motion and reach of the kick, as is the case with many kicks.  Practice getting the full 180-degree pivot by landing so you face the other way.  The pivot should happen ​at the same time as you kick​, not before.  Pivot on the ball of your foot almost at the base of your big toe.  You must not turn your upper body around until the  kick has been fully completed.

Pivot for front mawashi-geri distance
Pivot for front leg mawashi-geri

Objective:​ Gaining the distance for a front leg mawashi-geri by pivoting your back foot.

Start where you cannot reach your opponent with your front foot without moving your back foot.  Kick a front leg mawashi-geri and gain the reach and angle by pivoting your back foot.  Ensure your head remains almost stationary with your guard up as just your lower body moves.  The forward momentum of this pivot can also be used to slide in to extend the range of the kick even further.

Slide in rear leg mawashi-geri

'Shift-in' rear leg mawashi-geri

Objective: Closing the distance faster for rear leg mawashi-geri to the outside (back)


This technique achieves the move in and kick in one count by simultaneously shifting forward as the kick is executed, thus hitting the target from a greater distance.  The front foot slides forward as it pivots whilst the rear leg kicks.  A kick to the back has the advantage of more easily hitting through an attempted block.

Step in mawashi-geri

Step-in front leg mawashi-geri

Objective: Practicing fast retraction after kicking to maintain distance to prevent counter punch and quickly be ready for your next attack.


Hold the student's hand and quickly skip in for a front kick mawashi-geri.  Place the foot back down by skipping back to create distance back again.

Snapping the ura-mawashi-geri

Snapping the ura-mawashi-geri 1 (hook kick)

Objective: Effective snap of the foot on executing ura-mawashi-geri.  This kick is often not effectively used in sparring with almost no sideways snap or arcing the foot in too widely.


Standing behind your partner and holding their shoulder for support, skip in and ura-mawashi with the front leg.  Snap the foot around to slap your partner's mid-section with the sole of the foot.

Leg snap for ura-mawashi-geri jodan

Snapping the ura-mawashi-geri 2 (hook kick)

Objective: Getting used to effective snap of the foot on executing ura-mawashi-geri.  Jodan kicking flexibility required.


Two students hold a belt at shoulder level.  Holding onto the shoulder of one student, kick back over the belt to slap the hand of the other student held behind the belt.

Fast ura-mawashi-geri

Speed ura-mawashi-geri

Objective: Speed of kick whilst maintaining form of the upper body.  Good contact of kick finish with sideways motion and not stopping the kick at forward extension.


Hold the student's gi at the wrist, not the hand and quickly step in for a front kick ura-mawashi-geri.  Skip back to withdraw and make distance again.

Defensive rear leg mae-geri

Fast defensive rear leg mae-geri

Objective: Faster defensive mae-geri off the back leg


This alternative method to the mae-geri technique achieves a much faster yet still powerful defensive kick off the back leg that is hard to block.  Assuming competence with the usual mae-geri technique, the key is not to bring your body and weight forward onto your front leg.  Rather your weight drives down and through to the kick prior to your kicking leg returning to support your weight.

Mae-geri in hanmi

"Non-shomen" mae-geri

Objective: Variation in hip movement for mae-geri


Shotokan teaches mae-geri strictly with the hips in shomen (squared forward) position and this is important to master the principles of the kick in kihon practice for power and correct technique.  However, senior karate-ka can expand on this strict form to sometimes bring a little hip rotation into the kick depending on the situation.

Mae-geri variations

More mae-geri variations

Objective: Variation in hip movement for mae-geri


Expanding further on how the form of the standard mae-geri can be changed according to the desired target.

Exerpts from:

Kumite techniques seminar 2001 by the Japan National Team Coach, Seiji Nishimura

Advanced karate by Tatsuya Naka

YouTube - Scott Langley HDKI

YouTube - Sunday Morning Keiko with Rick Hotton

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