Chambering The Perfect Side Piercing Kick
by Stuart Anslow
A Footsword is achieved by turning the foot inwards and pulling your toes back. However, what some do not realise, is that the Footsword is only really part of the edge of your foot, from your heel to a couple of inches down (see the line on left pic).
Heavy people often forget much of the technique as they are able to use their weight against single boards, but will need it (good technique) against multiple boards.
A couple of final things to remember when using this kick to break boards with:
1. Aim to go through the boards by hitting them before you have fully extended your leg (left pic), so the final extension and locking of the hips are performed just as you touch the boards, as opposed to before then.
2. Try to lean into the technique a little at the final point of execution, as that little extra push can be a big help! (left pic)
I am not fluent in Korean or converting ‘romanticized’ Korean into Hangul, to find its ‘closer’ meaning, so I have to take the terminology at face value and learn from my Korean (or Korean speaking) friends.
The terminology for Side Piercing Kick is Yop Cha Jirugi, which is confusing for many as Jirugi is first learnt to mean Punch. Further more, some feel the term ‘piercing’ is in relation to the twisting motion of the kick, just like when you execute a traditional punch! Like many, as a junior I didn't really understand all this and simply looked at it like this - Yop Cha Jirugi is ‘To Punch with the foot’... Meaning, as we are Taekwon-do, our kicks need to be as a fast and as powerful as others hands, front leg kicks with speed and retraction like a boxers jab and rear leg kicks with power, like a right cross etc. However, that doesn't really explain why this particular terminology is used, its just a nice way of looking at it.
For any of you who have read some of my books, you will notice that in Volume 3 of ‘The Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do Patterns’, where one of my students performs Supreme Master Kim Bok Man's ‘Silla Knife Form’, I also use the term ‘Jirugi’, but not for a punch or a kick, but for a way of using a knife. So lets break this down; Yop means Side, Cha is a shortened version of Chagi, which means Kick and Jirugi can mean one of three things: punch, pierce or stab - which is why its used in relation to this kick, as it simply means ‘piercing’ here, ala Yop Cha Jirugi or Side Piercing Kick.
Regarding the piercing part of the terminology, though I know some feel it refers to rotation within the technique, I do not. Because if you look at the technique from the chamber position to the end of it, whilst there is some minimal rotation, its only 10 degrees and certainly nothing like the 180 degree rotation of a traditional punch. Instead, I feel the piercing part of the terminology simply describes how it is suppose to hit the target i.e. It is meant to pierce into it, as opposed to just hit the surface, as describe in the breaking part of this article or in the case of self-defence; pierce enough to break ribs etc.
Bending Ready Stance ‘A’
I have heard before that Bending Ready Stance ‘A’ is the chamber or prep position for a Side Piercing Kick, which is something I also personally disagree with, as, though a Side Piercing Kick often follows the stance in the patterns, this is because a seemingly similar kick often followed the Shotokan version of the stance (Crane Stance). Though they are both Side Kicks, the Shotokan kick is called a Side Rising Kick and has very different mechanics in the way it is executed, to that of a Side Piercing Kick, so the stance makes sense for that kick, but not as the chamber position for Side Piercing Kick. Granted, in General Choi’s Encyclopedia it does say to ‘bring the Footsword to the inner knee joint’, which is why many people say this (as thats where the foot is positioned in Bending Ready Stance A), one could also argue that by simply raising the kicking leg straight forwards (as mentioned at the beginning of this article), one performs this action and perhaps that is what General Choi meant! Even so, if it does refer to Bending Ready Stance ‘A’, I feel it is because of the original Shotokan influence and is based on the Shotokan delivery of Side Rising Kick, as apart from forming Bending Ready Stance ‘A’ prior to the kick itself in patterns, there is no real reason to do this when executing the Side Piercing Kick out side of patterns and from what I`ve observed, no one does this when its executed without the fore mentioned stance, at speed!
Also, to extend the kick directly from Bending Ready Stance ‘A’ would mean having to ‘flick’ the leg and foot upwards and this is one of the errors we discussed earlier, so therefore, far from ideal to make a decent technique! So, for a correct and powerful execution of Yop Cha Jirugi from Bending Ready Stance ‘A’ , we would still have to re-align our body from the Bending Ready Stance ‘A’ position to the ‘chamber’ position described in this article, before executing the last part (the extension) of the kick!
Chambering and Executing Side Piercing Kick from Bending Ready Stance ‘A’
And of course, there are instances in the patterns where Bending Ready Stance ‘A’ is formed and a kick is not actually executed, such as Ge-Beak tul! Plus, I`ve never seen a Bending Ready Stance ‘A’ executed in a sparring match, but have seen thousands of Side Piercing Kicks thrown within them!
To the left is an old picture of myself executing a Side Piercing Kick, without thought, at speed, at the AIMAA World Championships in 2000. You can see how the foot is pointing outwards, aligned towards the opponent at the angles described in this article, rather than inwards towards the knee as it would be in a Bending Ready Stance ‘A’
As I said at the start of this article, this is a difficult technique for many to get correct and its easy for those that can perform it well and/or instructors to forget that. Keep practicing the correct way and in time, it will become a great technique for you.
With information and constant practice we get this and this (see above pics).....
... Which is much more preferable to this and this (see above pics).
I hope you find this article useful in achieving your aims. If the future I hope to write a few similar in-depth articles, so if there's anything you`d like me to cover, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks to Kate Barry for taking the photo’s in this article and Tomasz Ostrowski for appearing in some of them.