The Front Kick is the easiest kick to learn and very difficult to use correctly. Like all martial arts kicks, the Front Kick has innumerable variations and applications. It can be tailored to many situations and opportunities in a fight. If somebody is coming on too strong and you want to push them back you can use the Pushing Front Kick. If you want to stop their progress or stop them from lifting their lead leg you can use the Checking Front Kick. If you want to jam the ball of your foot into their ribs or face you can rely on the Front Snap Kick. If their elbow is angled outward you can sneak under it with the Angled Front Kick. If your opponent bends over or you are hitting a pad you can point your toes and perform an Upward Front Kick. All of the Front Kick variations can be thrown in either a turning (back leg) or lead leg (front leg) motion. One will seldom ever throw a spinning around backward Front Kick, not because it is wrong, but because it is not very effective or logical to do so. A spin will not add more power or speed to the kick, only make its expression more awkward.
No matter what variation of the Front Kick you plan on using it is first and foremost important to understand the three Front Kick foot positions. These are Pointed, Ball, and Flexed. The Pointed foot position strikes with the part of the foot just below the ankle or the bottom section of the shin (see diagram 1a). For the Ball of the Foot variation the ankle is pointed as much as possible while pulling the toes backwards (see diagram 1b). For the Flexed variation the ankle and toes are pulled back and you strike with the Heel (see diagram 1c).
The most common variation of the Front Kick is the Front Snap Kick. Let us assume we are doing a rear leg Turning Front Snap Kick from a front or walking stance. The first thing that must happen is the weight will shift to the non kicking leg. The standing foot may rotate a little bit to open the hips, but not so much as to let the hip rotate. If the standing foot pivots too much or the hip rolls over the kick will become a Round or Turning Kick. If was want to perform a Front Kick, this is not a desirable outcome.The standing heel should move but not leave the floor. One of the most common feux pas performed while throwing the Front Kick is to go up on ones tip toes. This decreases your base and so makes it more difficult to maintain your balance. Falling while kicking is generally considered bad.
After you shift your weight the kicking knee will rise up towards the target. The foot will be tucked in tightly but relaxedly towards the buttock. The foot should be in the ball position. After the knee reaches is apex the lower tucked section of the leg will extend like a hammer arching forward from the wrist after the elbow has been extended to the nail. The section of the foot below the toes will strike the target in an in and up motion.
The next most common variation of the Front Kick is the Pushing Front Kick or Thrusting Front Kick. This variation utilizes the Flexed foot. The beginning motion is very similar to the Front Snap Kick. However you should not tuck the lower section of the leg in as tightly. You need to raise the knee higher then in the front snap kick. You must lift it up so high that the bottom of the heel points directly towards your target. Flexing the gluts and the hamstrings and the abdominal muscles the heel thrusts forward. Your hips should rotate upwards, your tail bone tucking and your shoulders leaning back a little bit. This can be but does not have to be a strike. The Pushing Front Kick is used to create an opening or stop somebody rushing towards you, or to strike an open target that is tall and narrow on your opponents upper body.
The Checking Front Kick is much like the Pushing Front Kick except that it is usually used below the belt. If your opponent plans to throw a kick with their lead leg you can put your foot on that leg as they lift it up to stop them. Following this you can push off their stifled leg to kick them somewhere else.
The Upward Front Kick strikes with the top of the foot or bottom of the shin. This variation is most often used when striking a fore arm shield, or speed paddle. The motion from stance to kick is almost exactly the same as with the Front Snap Kick variation. If you allow your standing foot to turn a little bit and allow your kicking hip to rotate a few inches the kick can approach at a slight angle allowing you to Front Kick the ribs or under and elbow. This variation of the Front Kick is often mistaken for a Round Kick.
Sadly most practitioners pay very little attention to the end of the kick. They strike their opponent and then just stop, put their foot down or move on to the next technique. In order to make the Front Kick most efficacious you must re-chamber after you throw the kick. I usually break the kick down into three parts. Bend the knee and chamber the kick. Extend the lower leg and strike your target. Bend the knee again and prepare for a second kick. All kicks when practiced should end in the same position from which they were initiated: Chamber, Kick, Chamber. If you fail to retract your kicking leg quickly an opponent can easily catch the proffered leg. If this happens you will quickly find yourself at a disadvantage. Having one hand out of commission is better than having one leg out of commission.
There are many drills and exercises you can do to help improve your Front Kick. You can hold a barre and practice various isolated segments of the kick. You can strike a punching bag. You can strike a forearm pad. You can hold the leg up and attempt to improve your speed by trying to keep up with the beats of a metronome. You can wear ankle weights and throw slow motion kicks. You can do sliding kicks up and down the training hall. You an attempt to kick a ping pong ball hanging from a kite string. Many of these variations I have discussed in the video below.
If you have any comments, questions, or things you might like to add I would love to hear form you in the comment section.