Basic Kicking Techniques and Combinations for Traditional Taekwondo

Technique Follow Along Video – Basic Kicking

We begin this video with some light stretching. If you need additional warm up or stretching, please do so. Our goal in the video is for you to have an easy way to practice at home, at any rank. White belts may need to move at a slightly slower pace. For higher ranks who want an additional challenge, try doubling up your kicks, or adding additional techniques. Remember- you can never drill basics too many times! 

As with all patterns and new movements, we encourage you to learn in class, with an instructor. These videos are meant to be demonstrative and easy to follow along. Your instructor can give you valuable feedback on your technique during class.

In the following video, you can practice along with Stevens Family instructors Jack Stevens III, and Jenna Davis. Master Jack Stevens calls out each technique, so you can practice with video assistance, or just listen for cues.


Squat stretch – toes forward, knees out, hips low. Keep your head and torso upright. This opens up the hips and ankles.

Straight leg – exactly how it sounds. Straighten your knees and reach for the floor. Bring your chest toward your toes. You should feel this in your hamstrings and posterior chain.

Hip flexor – pushing the hips forward elongates the hip flexors and psoas. Looking up to the ceiling opens up the chest, and provides spinal extension. BREATHE!

Oblique stretch – lean over to the side, pulling your top shoulder back. You want to feel this in the side of your torso, not your hamstrings/legs. 

Rotation – keep your feet facing forward, and try to keep your hips squared toward the front. Look and reach to the rear of the room to create rotation through your spine.

Arm rotations – circle in both directions to prepare your shoulders for the work to come.

Neck circles – do not crank into extreme ranges of motion, simply work through a comfortable range of motion.

Later in the workout, we stretch again:

Standing straddle, with rotations – after warming up a bit, we work to get the legs wider, to further open the hips, adductors, and abductors. Switching from left to right offers additional stretch. Use your arms to gently intensify the work.

Wide hip flexor stretch – same as your regular hip flexor stretch, just harder!

Extended front stance hip flexor stretch – if I have to tell you what it’s stretching, you’re not doing it right!! But seriously, this is a great one to open up the hips, and relieve pressure through the front of the body that has been working hard during all those front kicks.


Let’s Get Kicking

Crescent kicks (inside to outside) – front a front stance, bring your back leg toward your front foot, cross to the inside of your body, up, then continue to circle wide, landing the leg in the same spot from where it started. Keep the kicking leg straight, and your torso upright. Common problems – arms swinging wide, hooking the knee on the kicking leg, leaning forward.

Front snap kick (rear leg) – from a front stance, lift your back knee up towards your chest (chamber). Once the bent knee is up, extend the leg, reaching your foot to the target (kick). Then, keeping your knee as high as possible, bend the leg (rechamber). After bending the knee (rechambering), THEN lower your leg, bringing your foot back to its original spot on the floor.  Common problems – lifting the leg instead of chambering the knee, not fully extending the kick, dropping the leg to the floor instead of rechambering, leaning forward.

Front snap kick (lead leg) – balancing most of your weight on your back leg, lift your front knee straight up to the ceiling. Once it is lifted, extend the leg. Note that your foot will point up toward the ceiling. Rechamber the knee before setting down to the floor. When thrown out of an L stance, note that your hips will be in an angled position. 

Jab (forward punch) – punch with the front hand

Cross (reverse punch) – punch with the back hand

Side kick – a stomping motion off the side of the body created by first pivoting the base foot, then pulling your knee up from the floor, and away from the target (chamber). During the chambered phase, the knee remains high and the bottom of the foot should be visible to the target. The leg extends, heel protruding, ankle and toes pulled back (bladed foot position), until the heel reaches the target and the knee is fully extended. The knee then pulls back to the original chambered position. Common problems – no pivot, loose chamber, foot position, looking away (poor body position)

Knife hand – striking (typically to the neck) with the long pinky finger side of the hand (not the finger)

Hook kick – while there are multiple ways to throw a hook kick, beginners will pivot the base foot, then lift with a straight leg with the hip in a slightly flexed position. This brings your leg up on one side of your target. During the kick phase, you will bend the knee, bringing your heel back towards your bottom. For proper range of motion, the end of the kick should result in the tip of your knee pointed at your target. The striking mechanism is either the back of the heel (combat style), or the bottom of the foot (typically used in sparring). Common problems – range of motion through the knee, turning the chest away during the kicking phase, hooking the foot to the floor instead of straight across

Backfist – literally hitting with the back of the punching knuckles (fist)

Round kick – while pivoting the base foot, lift your bent knee and point it directly at the target (foot pulled back towards your bottom); this is your chamber. Turn your hips through and extend your leg fully, creating a horizontal line through your target. Retract the kick through the same horizontal line to rechamber. Common problems – flexing at the hip joint during the chamber/rechamber phase, kicking in a diagonal motion, not driving through the target with the hips

Crescent/Axe kick – Begin your kick in the same way as your regular crescent kick, bringing the leg up as high as you can on one side of the target. Once your foot reaches peak height, pull your leg straight down the center line (rather than completing the wide circle) and back to the floor. The regular crescent kick opens up the hips and aids flexibility, but by ending in the style of an axe kick, gives it more practical uses.

Quick Note:

Many of these kicks have variations in foot position, suggested height, and ranges of motion based on changing targets. Some useful kicking techniques are actually hybrids of two different kicks. We stress building a solid foundation first- ensuring that you both know and can perform correct range of motion, and deliver each kick to its full potential of power.