Kicking (踢法)… a couple of my favorite tactics

20 Jul

foot jab to round kick

People may have heard the saying “southern first and northern legs.” The saying would seem to indicate that in Chinese martial arts, the south is known for its first techniques and the north for its kicks. While comparing a Northern long fist set to some basic southern kung-fu might lead you to believe this is true, the reality is that kicking is a much more complex issue. Kicking (踢法) is one of the four skills of ALL traditional Chinese martial arts. And kicking doesn’t just mean high kicks. Here are few of the ones I am rather fond of.

8 inch Jaat Teui

The cross kick (AKA “inverted side kick”) (窒腿), the toes are turned outward and the striking surface is the heel and arch of the foot. It can be used as a stomp to the knee, in a sweeping motion and as a leg check. With proper timing, it can also be used to intercept the rear round kick.

Pek Teui alternate

The “chopping kick” (Pek Teui劈腿) is an extremely common Chinese martial arts technique and a particular feature of the Lama Pai I learned from the late Chan Tai-San. With the toes pointed up, the hook created by the instep and top of the ankle is used to kick out and uproot the foot.

shovel foot

Low side kick (AKA “shovel kick”) (鏟腿). In traditional Chinese martial arts, this was always considered an extremely dangerous and effective kick. I was always taught it would “break the knee.” The technique remains perfectly legal in Sanshou / San Da, and it was a tactic frequently used by the Chinese team during the first three world championships. Unfortunately, when finally tested in real fights the kick was less dangerous than its reputation. The best use of the low side kick is as an obstruction, to set up other attacks, or as a “stop hit.” A “stop hit” is used to intercept an attack and break forward momentum. It stops an attack as it begins and breaks your opponent’s rhythm.

chaai teui middle

Lead leg side kick (側腿). As the lead knee is raised, the rear foot turns outward and the front hip is thrust forward. The side kick then shoots out in a STRAIGHT line. The power comes from the locking of the hip. The buttocks must be tucked in. Also, the locking of the kick keeps the opponent at a distance. The lead leg side kick can also be used as a “stop hit” against a rushing opponent or an opponent launching a rear leg kick.

Much more information on this coming in my new book. In the meantime, my Chan Tai San Lama Pai book remains available at


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