What Are The Most Common Karate Kicks

In martial arts kicks are hugely different in each type. Across the martial arts family you can expect to see spinning, and jumping kicks for the most part but also some variations of flying kicks.

Each kick has a specific target that the kicker is attempting to strike. 

What Are The Most Common Karate Kicks

In Karate you can mostly expect punches and blocks using the hands and arms.

There are also common kicks that are often used, particularly in a Kata or in Kumite. 

Here we look at the most common Karate kicks as well as what to remember to execute the perfect kick, and more. 

Most Common Karate Kicks 

There are five different types of kicks that are the bases of more complicated kicks in Karate.

Here we explain each of the most common kicks, or Geri as they are formally referred to in Karate.

Front Kicks 

The front kick is the most common kick in Karate and many other forms of martial art.

This is often the first kick taught to new Karate students as it has a simple form and is easier to execute than other types of kicks.

To perform a front kick, one leg is lifted, raising the knee and pointing it towards the target.

In a quick motion, the leg is extended and the target is hit using the ball of the foot before quickly returning the leg to the bent knee position and returning it to the ground. 

Side Kick 

Another frequently used kick is the sidekick or the side snap kick. This kick is executed with the body sideways from the target. 

The knee is lifted straight up and the other knee is slightly bent for support.

The leg is then extended straight out to the side and the kick is delivered using the heel while the foot is somewhat parallel with the ground.

The leg is returned to the bent knee position before being placed back down on the ground.

Crescent Kick 

The crescent kick is also performed from a sideways starting stance. It can be used to attack or protect the body. 

To execute this kick the left knee is raised in front of the body before extending the leg in a circular, clockwise motion.

The kick is delivered using the inside edge of the foot. When kicking with the right leg, the leg is extended in a counter-clockwise direction. 

Reverse-Crescent Kick 

The reverse-crescent kick is simply the opposite of the crescent kick. When using the left leg it is moved in a counterclockwise direction and when kicking the right leg it is moved in a clockwise direction. 

This kick can be very misleading to attackers and so it is a great kick to learn for protecting or defending yourself. 

Roundhouse Kick 

The roundhouse kick is very easy to recognize as it follows a very specific movement pattern.

The starting stance sees the left shoulder positioned towards the target. The right leg is then brought up and extended out to the side before pivoting on the left foot.

The right foot is then snapped outwards, delivering a strike to the target. The right leg is snapped back in before pivoting back to the first position again.

Other Types Of Kicks

Other Types Of Kicks

The different types of kicks are categorized in four different ways. There are the basic kicks, more advanced kicks, advanced leg attacks, and non-traditional kicks.

As practitioners progress through the rankings in Karate, they will have the opportunity to learn more complicated kicks. 

What To Remember 

Kicking in Karate is taught very particularly. Sessions will be dedicated to specific Keri Waza, or kicking techniques.

If a Karate practitioner is using incorrect kick techniques over time this can lead to injuries as well as problems with the knees (see also ‘Are Knees Allowed In Karate: Rules & Regulations‘). 

Below we look at the key components that should be remembered when delivering a kick to ensure perfect execution every time. 


When kicking everything should be thought about, from the direction the leg travels, to where your hands should be held to support yourself.

Always be aware of the stance your kick is starting from and adjust accordingly to ensure you can maintain the correct form when kicking.

Returning The Leg 

The leg is always snapped back in after kicking to prevent an attack from grabbing the leg and causing injury.

Many sessions will be focused on learning how to quickly return the leg to the raised knee position from several different stances.

Placement of Legs and Hips 

The placement of the legs and hips is very important as having a correct stance will help you to stay rooted to the ground when kicking. This will help you to get more power behind your kicks also. 

Stability and Balance 

Strength is held at the core when learning or performing any Karate move, it is a part of the fighting spirit.

It is important to work on your balance so that you are more stable in your movements, this will help you to protect yourself easier as you will be able to move quickly without the risk of falling or tripping over.

Having stability and balance will also help you to have more control over your movements which enables more strength to be put behind your kicks. 

Target and Speed 

Focusing on the target will prevent any mistakes or injuries from happening.

When you are focused you will also be able to put more speed behind your kick as you will know exactly where you need to place the kick.


Working on your flexibility is a great way of improving your kicks and the height you can reach.

The more flexibility you have the easier these movements will become as you will not feel a strain to move your legs in the way a kick requires them to go.

Final Thoughts 

We hope that this piece has proved useful and that it will help you to learn and better your kicks in Karate.

If you are struggling with any aspect of a kick it is best to speak to a peer of Sensei to prevent causing any injury to yourself or others.

Christopher Anderson
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