From Self-Defense Karate
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The koshi (literally: “middle-foot”) is the ball of the foot, between the arch and the big toe. In karate, the majority of your body weight should be focused on the balls of your feet, like a cat, for optimum balance and mobility. Front kick, front exercise kick, jump front kick, roundhouse kick, and inside crescent kick all use the koshi to damage an opponent’s vital points.

Unlike many Korean and Korean-influenced martial arts, Goshin-Jutsu karateka do not strike with their insteps, as they are one of the weak points of the human body. One of our contributors, Mr. Zielinski, once sparred a Tae Kwon Do stylist who charged at him with a large, looping kick, hell-bent on crushing him with his instep. Mr. Zielinski did not block, parry, evade, or counter; he merely turned his elbow to the side. When the Tae Kwon Do man’s instep struck Mr. Zielinski’s elbow, it broke with a sickening crack. The point of this anecdote is this -- Mr. Zielinski did not break that man’s foot; that man broke his foot on Mr. Zielinski. Think about that -- then, kick with the ball of the foot . To form the koshi, curl your toes back, and turn your ankle downward, to make your instep in-line with your shin, like a ballerina, as shown in the photo below:

{photo of a koshi, from the front and the side}

Failing to accentuate the koshi will cause your kicks to strike with the tips of your toes. Unless you are wearing steel-toed workbooks, these “toe-kicks” will painfully sprain or break your toes, leaving your without a leg to stand on.