Chambering The Perfect Side Piercing Kick
by Stuart Anslow
Out of all the basic kicks a beginner or lower Kup grade practices early on in their Taekwon-do studies, it seems that the Side Piercing Kick is the one they most struggle with, I`m sure there are exceptions, but I often see higher Kup grades and even black belts still executing this technique poorly, so lets look at it a little more closely.
Don’t get me wrong now, I do not consider myself perfect, as I see perfection as a constant pursuit and something never gained. On the other hand I have been an instructor of my own school for over a decade and a half, so see a lot of the smaller details that students who struggle with this kick are doing.
First, as I do when I first teach this to students, lets look at the kick by breaking down into 3 parts.
For a rear leg Side Piercing Kick we are starting from an L-Stance with Forearm Guarding Block. From here we raise our knee straight forwards, with our Footsword already formed. The second step is the chamber, and is the step many seem to miss out entirely before they try to fully execute the technique. Finally, we extend the kick to completion.
It all sounds very simple, but lets look at each part in greater detail.
Again, we start from an L-Stance, with Forearm Guarding Block. (far left pic)
To start Yop Cha Jirugi (Side Piercing Kick) we raise our knee straight up and directly forwards whilst forming a Footsword. (middle Pics, one is a side on view).
As simple as this sounds, many make the simple error of swing their leg around, instead of bringing the knee straight up and forwards (right pic). Whilst this is not a terrible error, as we can still get to the part we need (the chamber) it is not required and often see’s the students leg in the wrong chamber position, which in turn affects the rest of the technique.
Once we have raised our knee, we need to ‘chamber’ for the final part of the kick. The ‘perfect’ chamber will have both our hip and ankle in line with both each other and the target, at roughly a 45 degree angle (right Pics).
As we chamber, we also pivot on our support foot (raising the heel slightly and using only the ball of the foot), at 90 degrees, all the time maintaining our Footsword on the other foot.
Common mistakes in the ‘chamber’ portion of the technique include bringing the leg around so it is still mainly vertical to the floor (below left pic), which means we have to flick the kick upwards and outwards instead of using the correct ‘thrusting out’ type motion (below middle pic); or not aligning our hip and ankle, so the lower part of our leg isn't lined up correctly (forcing us to execute a kick that looks more like a dodgy Turning Kick, than a Side Piercing Kick. (below right pic).
This is why trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ chamber is so important, as it all affects the final part of the kick and thus its outcome, as to whether it is a good Side Piercing Kick or a poor one, one that does damage vs. one that doesn't, one that is correctly locked out or one that isn’t, one that utilizes the power or the hips or one that doesn't!