You should never turn you back to an opponent; it leaves you completely open to attack. However, we realize that this situation might happen, like when:
- Attacker uses a surprise attack from the rear (e.g., rear mug, bear hug, or Full Nelson).
- The opponent blocks a kick, knocking you off-balance
- You accidentally turning your back to an opponent while recovering your balance from a series of kicks.
In each of these cases, it is imperative that you quickly return to a safe position. Until then, ushiro-geri (literally: “backwards kick”) is your only defense. A rear kick will force the opponent to worry about defense, momentarily distracting them from their attack. Like all atemi, the opponent will only be stunned for a moment, but that might be enough time for you to recover your position.
To throw a rear kick, enter a walking crane stance, as usual. Then, bend forward at the waist, and snap your leg straight behind you, driving your heel into your opponent’s groin or abdomen. To rechamber, pull your upper-body back to vertical, and sharply pull your knee forward, as though you were throwing a knee kick.
[Rear knee strike videos, fast and slow, from the side and rear.]
For best results, keep the following points in mind:
- Be sure to lean as far forward as possible. The farther you lean, the higher the kick will be. While we do not normally advocate leaning, with rear kick, it is a necessary evil, since rear kicks tend strike lower than you’d think, resulting in ineffective strikes to the opponent’s meaty, padded thighs. In addition, leaning forward helps you maintain your balance, by using your upper body as a counterweight for your leg.
- Do not turn your head to see who or what you are kicking. Rear kick is only to be used when you know with certainty that the person you are kicking is directly behind you, and that they deserve to be kicked. Turning your head to look will subtly turn your body enough to vector your kick in the opposite direction. (If you look to the left, the kick will veer to the right, and vice-versa.)