Kake-geri, the hook kick is the complement to the roundhouse kick. Both kicks trace large, arcing paths towards their targets, leading to their popularity in movies and television. Roundhouse kicks travel from outside-to-inside, while hook kicks loop from inside-to-outside. Hook kicks can only be thrown from a side-facing guard, and provide some variety in your attacks from that position.
Hook kicks are deceptive, because up until the last second, they look like side kicks which have missed their target. Since this technique builds upon side kicks, it is reserved for intermediate students .
Like all of our other kicks, throwing hook kicks is a four-point procedure, so be sure to do it by the numbers:
- Chambering. Begin from a horse stance, facing 90° away from your opponent; you must assume a side guard to hook kick. Then, enter a walking or fighting crane stance, as per usual. Again, raise the knee of the kicking leg as high as possible; your knee must be higher than your hip (“past parallel”).
- Kick. Throw a side kick to a point 6-12” (15-30 cm) outside of the opponent, seemingly missing them. Before your leg fully extends, sharply bend your knee, pulling your foot towards your butt. This will result in a horizontal strike that contacts the opponent with your heel. Since the motion is like a side kick, you must also:
- Open your hip to the outside prior to kicking, and turn your knee to the inside while kicking.
- Pivot your supporting foot 90° to the outside, so your toes point away from your kick.
- Switch your hands to cover your face and groin.
- Arch your back while kicking for additional power and stability.
- Avoid leaning to the side to increase the height of the kick.
- Re-chambering. This kick ends in an awkward position. Quickly twist back into a walking or fighting crane stance, to keep the opponent from catching your kick, or using your leg as a lever to rotate your body. Do not use you kick as part of a giant step; that gives the opponent an opportunity to leg sweep you.
- Stepping out. After kicking, return to a bent-knees attention stance, and slide either leg into whatever stance you chose.
[Hook kick videos, fast and slow, from the front and side.]
Since hook kicks strike from the side, they are best used against an opponent’s jaw, temple, skull, neck, or floating ribs. While we normally do not advocate kicking to the head, our active discouragement of high kicks provides an added element of surprise in the off chance when we do.
To cover more ground, pull your back leg up into a transitional attention stance and proceed from there. Professional wrestling fans will recognize these step-up hook kicks as either a superkick or a Sweet Chin Music, depending on who’s throwing them.
Spinning hook kick
Spinning hook kicks have more momentum (and power) than regular hook kicks. Spinning kicks are a dynamic and spectacular technique which frequently appear in action movies. While this could be used to intimidate untrained opponents into retreat or surrender, it is best to rely on other techniques. This is an intrinsically dangerous technique since it:
- Forces you to turn your back to your opponent.
- Briefly places you in an awkward, twisted position. However, if you ever find yourself in an unfortunate twisted, position, using that as a spinning hook kick setup can force opponents to momentary retreat, and buy you the time needed to recover your balance.
- Adds another step to the kicking process, which increases your total response time.
- Requires an impeccable sense of balance to execute correctly; we practice this kick mainly as a balance-building drill.
Directions on how to throw a right spinning hook kick are given below; changing the directions for a left kick is an exercise left for the reader.
- Origin. Start in a left fighting stance facing #1.
- Spin. Twist clockwise 270° to #2, pulling your right leg up into a left cat-like stance, except that your legs will be crossed, like you’re waiting in a line to use the toilet.
- Kick. Without pausing, immediately execute a right side kick to #2. Sharply bend your knee at the moment of fullest extension, and the momentum will carry your heel into your intended target at #1. Just as marksmen lead their targets, spinning karateka must trail their targets.
[spinning Outside crescent kick videos, fast and slow, from the front and side.]
While a spinning hook kick strongly resembles a wheel kick, they are different techniques.