What is the strongest kick power?

Updated: 9/27/2023
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14y ago

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[Note: While debates can rage on with personal opinions, these are best served on the discussion page for this question.]

The answer to this question might be expressed in personal opinions by many students of various skill levels in a variety of Martial Art systems. Nevertheless, the facts can be supported by scientific testing, however there has been no conclusive, scientific tests that verify which kick is the most "powerful", but an experienced Master will know what results come from each kick. The question can be misleading since "power" deals more with the science of physics where power is the rate of work done, or force applied as energy is transferred over a distance in a specific amount of time. In other words, fast kicks might have power, but could lack in the total force penetrating the target. The important factor is not so much the "power" of the kick as it is the maximum total force generated.

Some kicks increase their applied force through rapid acceleration in a short time. This results in a greater impact, and extensive visible damage to a target. However, all kicks are either linear or circular, and use one of three hip positions: Front, Side, or Back. For example, a front kick can be thrust on a straight line into the mid-section while using a front hip position (kicker's abdomen facing the target). A crescent kick also uses a front hip position, but travels on a circular path. The side kick follows a linear path with the hips facing to the side. The roundhouse kick and hook kick also uses the side hip position, but they both travel on a circular path.

While the circular kicks can deliver a great deal of force through rapid acceleration, and a somewhat pendulum like pivot with added extension or retraction of the knee joint, the applied force is not supported by the bone structure which considerably reduces the amount of reaction force capable of returning into the target. This can cut the potential total force nearly in half.

The side kick is the only kick (regardless of which Martial Art system employs it), that uses the most sound geometric shape and structure of the human anatomy to reinforce the applied force. The side kick can be applied numerous ways, and some are more suited for taking advantage of the rapid acceleration, mechanics of the muscles and joints, and the reinforced locking of the body which is supported by the rear foot securely planted on the floor.

The basic rotation of a front leg, or back leg side kick contains good reinforced position, but is not able to utilize the greatest amount of acceleration and mechanics. The skipping side kick has a better rotation of the hips from the beginning of the kick, and adds the momentum of the body to help reinforce the initial impact. The flying side kick can be equally as forceful with the forward motion of the body to support the kick, however the body is not planted on the ground, thus some initial applied force dissipates.

Probably the most powerful kick able to be delivered by the human body, when all kicks are mastered, is the spinning (or turning) side kick. This kick uses the most ideal hip position, mechanics of combining hip and knee extension simultaneously, the necessary acceleration as the kick progresses, and is the still supported by a firmly planted rear foot for maximum use of the reaction force. Even this kick must be mastered to combine all proper alignment, timing of muscle contractions, targeting, and a forward thrust of the entire body which is supported by the rear foot and floor.

[please see the discussion page for personal experience and opinions of contributors]

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13y ago
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14y ago

The first question is, what do we mean by "power" do we mean speed? do we mean pounds of pressure? or are we talking potential damage? Several studies were done on different methods of kicks measuring torque total speed and pounds of pressure per square inch. Muay Thai knees to the sternum (center axis of the ribs) is the most devastating due to the inertia of the knee from the floor focusing about 1500lbs on the tip of the knee. This is enough to tear apart bone and certainly cause some internal bleeding. The Fastest kick comes from kung fu, about 5x faster than a snake bite, however, with this speed comes a lack of power only putting out about 1200lbs. Choose speed or "power" either way, it hurts.

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13y ago

This is difficult to determine and verify scientifically because accurate methods of testing have not been established. Some methods might include breaking of wood or cement blocks but only those materials stacked with no gaps are an indication of power (as opposed to strictly speed or gimmicks), yet breaking materials can be inconsistent in their integrity of resistance. Electronic devices attempt to determine the power of kicks, but are seldom accurate and consistent.

Three of the most commonly accepted powerful kicks are the stomp kick (striking downward with the bottom of the heel in a vertical motion), spinning side kick (a 180 degree backward turn, using the heel of the back leg to strike a target in front of you), and the back kick (aka: "mule" or "donkey" using the bottom of the heel of either the front or back leg to kick to the rear direction).

Note: The "spinning side kick," and the "back kick" are two different kicks with different hip positions, and applied to different directions from the original stance. The added motion of a spin kick often increases the power over a back kick, but many novice students often lose their balance during the turn, or inadvertently over-spin and change the linear kick into a hooking motion, thus diminishing the power.

Some spinning kicks, such as the spin hook, spin wheel, or spin outward crescent kick can be very powerful, devastating, and damaging to a target, but they rely mostly on rapid acceleration, momentum, and centripetal pull to the center of a circular rotation rather than being supported by the solid bone structure of the body, and reinforced by the floor.

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