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Foot techniques in Karate

Two karate fighters, kick in the stomach
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Foot techniques, or “Keri” in Japanese, are an essential part of the karateka’s arsenal. They allow great reach and can be incredibly powerful when properly executed. Let’s take a look at the different foot techniques most commonly used in karate.

1. Mae Geri (Frontal Kick)

Mae Geri is one of the most basic and widely used foot techniques in karate. This is a frontal kick, where the karateka strikes the opponent using the top of the foot (instep) or the ball of the foot (the front part of the foot). It is mainly used to target the opponent’s trunk, but can also be directed at other parts of the body.

2. Mawashi Geri (Circular Kick)

Mawashi Geri is another very common foot technique, in which the karateka delivers a circular kick to the opponent. In this kick, the practitioner pivots on one foot and uses the other to strike, generally using the top of the foot or the shin as the point of contact. Mawashi Geri can be used to strike a variety of targets, from the opponent’s head to his leg.

3. Yoko Geri (Side Kick)

Yoko Geri is a side kick in which the karateka strikes his opponent from the side. There are two main variations of Yoko Geri. In Yoko Geri Kekomi, the karateka strikes using the heel while pushing his foot towards the opponent. In Yoko Geri Keage, the karateka delivers a quick, upward kick using the edge of the foot. These kicks are often used to strike the opponent’s abdomen, ribs or head.

4. Ushiro Geri (Back Kick)

Ushiro Geri is a back kick executed by turning the body and striking the opponent behind you. This kick is often used as a counter-attack when the opponent is behind the karateka. It requires good coordination, balance and spatial awareness to be performed correctly.

5. Kansetsu Geri (Joint Kick)

Kansetsu Geri is a kick on a joint, usually the opponent’s knee. The practitioner generally uses the heel to strike. It’s a technique that can be devastating, but it must be used with care to avoid serious injury.

6. Hiza Geri (Knee strike)

Hiza Geri is a knee strike used in karate. In this technique, the karateka raises the knee and strikes the opponent with the upper or front part of the knee. Hiza Geri can be aimed at several targets, including the opponent’s abdomen, torso or even head if distance allows. It’s a powerful technique that can be used in combination with other techniques for maximum effect.

7. Mikazuki Geri (Crescent Kick)

Mikazuki Geri, or crescent kick, is another interesting foot technique. Execution of this kick involves an upward, circular movement of the leg, similar to the shape of a crescent moon (hence the name). This move can be used to deflect an attack, strike the opponent or even sweep away his foot. It can be performed from the inside out (mikazuki geri uchi) or from the outside in (mikazuki geri soto).

8. Tobi Geri (Sauté Kick)

Tobi Geri, or jump kicks, are a whole series of foot techniques performed in the air. This can include a Mae Geri, Yoko Geri or Mawashi Geri performed while jumping. These techniques require great agility, precise coordination and powerful legs. They are often used to surprise opponents or break through their defenses.

In short, karate foot techniques are varied and offer a multitude of options for attacking, defending or counter-attacking in a combat situation. Each of these techniques requires rigorous practice and a good understanding of the principles of movement and balance. More than just a means of attack, foot techniques reflect the fluidity, precision and control that characterize the art of karate.

As with hand techniques, it is important to understand that mastery of these foot techniques is not limited to their physical execution. They must be practiced with a clear mind and precise intention, to fully embody the philosophy of karate: a path to self-improvement through discipline and respect.

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