ATA Kick Descriptions

December 2004

As part of my web site reorganization, I've made some slight modifications to this page. Originally I was going to create write-ups for all ATA kicks. I made it through most of Purple belt in July 2000. Given that my last entry was 4-1/2 years ago, and that I've parted ways with the ATA, I suspect that this activity is as complete as it will ever get. :-)

I originally put in stubs for belts above me at that time. Those stubs have been removed, and I've added this introduction ...

Disclaimer: Following are descriptions of the various ATA kicks. These are MY descriptions are and NOT official ATA descriptions. There is absolutely nothing official about my TKD web site.

July 2000

I'm writing these descriptions for three reasons:

  1. To describe what we do to others, including martial artists and non-martial artists.
  2. To help me make sure I understand what I'm doing.
  3. To give me a record to look back upon as I progress through the ranks.

Although I've denoted these kicks as "ATA kicks", they are really no different from the kicks I learned in other styles of TKD. What differentiates the ATA from other styles is NOT the techniques; rather it is the teaching methods, the forms, and the one-steps.

Basic Kicks #1 - #4

As beginners (white belts), we are responsible for 4 different front kicks and 4 different side kicks. The ATA numbers these kicks, and does it in a consistent fashion that makes them easy to remember. Although this system doesn't apply to all kicks, it appears to apply to most kicks, at least for lower belts.

A #1 kick is executed with the front leg. The weight shifts onto the back leg and the front leg is chambered for the kick. See the description of each kick for a description of the "chamber" for each kick, and the actual execution.

A #2 kick is always executed with the back leg. The weight shifts onto the front leg and the back leg is chambered for the kick. This kick will almost always be more powerful than a #1 kick, but is slower and takes longer to execute. It's got a farther distance to travel, but has more momentum behind it.

A #3 kick is also performed with the front leg. The back leg moves, either forward or to the side, and then the kick is executed like a #1 kick. The idea here is to close ground or step to the side while executing a fast kick.

A #4 kick is performed with the back leg. The front leg moves, either backwards or to the side, and then the kick is executed like a #2 kick. The idea here is to step back to gain distance, or to the side to avoid an incoming technique, and then execute a powerful kick.

As a summary:

Although this seems like a lot to learn at once, I think in the long run this will prove to make things easier to remember. This is apparently true for most kicks, so it's pretty easy to keep them straight. If I'm required to do a #2 kick (regardless of what the kick is), I know my front foot is not moving and I'm kicking with the back leg.

With the other styles of TKD I've studied, there was never this formal description of each format of each kick. So things could get confusing, especially with either an inexperienced instructor or an inexperienced student. The facet that makes the ATA stand out among its brethren is that it is FAR better organized than any other style of TKD that I am familiar with. This may not make it better, but I believe it makes it easier to learn.

White Belt Kicks

Front Kicks

A #1 Front Kick is executed with the front leg. All weight shifts onto the back leg, the front leg is "chambered" (the knee is pulled up to the chest, as high as it will go), and then the foot snaps out, striking with the ball of the foot. Then the legs is pulled back into chamber, and put back down on the ground.

Pull those toes back as far as they will go! Practicing on a heavy bag teaches the need to pull the toes back as every time you don't, you end up hopping around swearing. Jammed toes are not fun!

The #2 Front Kick is executed with the back leg. All weight shifts onto the front leg, the back leg is brought forward and chambered, and the foot snaps out.

The #3 Front Kick is executed with the front leg. This one is different, as it is used to close with an opponent. First step up with the back leg so that the back foot is just behind the front foot, which moves you closer to the opponent. Shift all weight to the back leg and chamber the front leg. Then snap out that front foot.

Finally, the #4 Front Kick is used to avoid an opponent's technique while counter-attacking, and is executed with the back leg. The front foot moves, either back or to the side, effectively shifting you out of the way of an incoming technique. Then the back leg chambers and the foot snaps out. If you stepped back the opponent is (hopefully) walking right into the kick, and if you stepped to the side, you're hitting from an angle instead of straight on.

These kicks are executed in a front stance: legs a bit wider than shoulder width, trunk vertical, back leg locked straight, and front leg bent at the knee so when I look down I can't see that foot. Weight distribution is 60/40 with most of the weight on the front leg. Sounds painful and useless, doesn't it? A stance like this is rarely, if ever, used in sparring or in live self-defense situations. But this stance strengthens the legs and teaches balance and the ability to rapidly shift weight.

A major point with these kicks is that after the kick is executed, the kicking leg needs to go back to the chamber position. From there it can be put back on the ground, or a second kick can be executed. Getting back into chamber is probably the hardest part of the kick, especially if you're tired.

Side Kicks

The side kicks work the same way as the front kicks.

A #1 Side Kick is executed with the front leg. All weight shifts onto the back leg and the front leg is chambered. However, this chamber is slightly different from the Front Kick. Instead of pointing straight ahead, the supporting foot shifts 180 degrees so that the heel is pointing toward the target. The trunk is turned so that the chest faces to the side rather than the target. The knee doesn't come straight up, instead it comes up and is shifted horizontally toward the front of the body. The kicking thigh, calf, and foot are on a single plane, so that if kicking a waist high target that plane is parallel to the ground. Then the leg straightens, striking with the outside blade of the foot, more towards the heel. When executed properly the body, leg and foot form a plane. Then the leg pulls back into chamber and goes down on the floor, and the supporting foot pivots back to its original position.

The #2 Side Kick is executed with the back leg. All weight shifts onto the front leg and the front heel is pointed at the target. The kicking leg is chambered and the blade of the foot snaps toward the target.

The #3 Side Kick, like the #3 Front Kick, is executed with the front leg and the back leg steps up to close distance. This is one of my favorite sparring kicks, as it can cover a lot of ground and it's a very fast and powerful kick (if done correctly). When stepping with the back leg I come down with the heel pointed at my target. Then the front leg chambers and snaps out.

Last but not least, is the #4 Side Kick. As with the #4 Front Kick, this one is used to avoid an incoming technique, and can be executed by stepping back or to the side. The weight is shifted to the front leg and the front heel is pointed at the target. Then the back leg is chambered and fired at the target. Personally, this is one of the slowest kicks I know of. However, like all techniques, its use has a place and time. I use it in sparring with an opponent who is slow or off balance.

These kicks are numbered exactly like the Front Kicks, making remembering much easier.

Orange Belt Kicks

Round Kicks

The #1 Round Kick starts out similar to the Side Kick for it's chamber. The kicking leg is pulled up so that the thigh, calf, and foot form a plane parallel to the floor. The difference is that the knee points at the target so the kicking foot is off to the side. Then the foot sweeps out, striking with either the ball of the foot (watch those toes!!!) or the instep. Pull the leg back into the chamber and put it down.

Round Kicks #2 through #4 are executed similarly to the Front and Side Kicks.

Although we are allowed to use the instep in sparring practice, I'm making a habit of using only the ball of the foot. It's harder to learn correctly, and has a lot more power. I've seen black belts break with this kick, whereas I couldn't even imagine trying to break with the instep.

Yellow Belt Kicks

Jump Front Kicks

This is the most sadistic, painful, and tiring kick to practice -- so far.

For the #1 kick, the idea is to jump straight up in the air, chamber the front leg for a front kick, execute the kick, and then land on your feet and stay on your feet. Easier said than done. :-)

The same holds true for the #2 jump front kick -- jump straight up in the air, chamber the back leg, execute the kick, and then land. This is actually harder, cuz a #2 kick always takes longer. As near as I can tell, I have to get my leg into the chamber as fast as possible. Practice, practice, practice, ...

The #3 kick is actually easier to execute. Jump up in the air, execute an aborted kick with the back leg, and then execute the "real" kick with the front leg. The extra kick gains us a bit of air time, so it's easier to execute. Of the four, this one is the easiest for me.

The #4 is the same idea, using the front leg to get the air and then executing the kick with the back leg. This is easier than 1 or 2, but tougher than #3. It is also the kick used in "The Karate Kid" at the end.

Outer Crescent Kicks

We've been doing #2 Outer Crescent Kicks since the beginning as part of our active stretching process. These kicks are of varying easiness, depending upon which leg we use. To be different, I'll describe the #2 kick first:

This kick doesn't really have a "chamber". Weight shifts onto the front leg. The back leg is dragged across the body until it is crossed in front of the front leg. Then it is raised up to kicking height (at least waist height) and "slung" back across the body in a horizontal motion. This is a kick where hip motion is an absolute necessity to get any power. The striking surface is the outer edge of the foot or ankle.

The #1 kick sounds easier, but is actually a bit more difficult to actually perform. The front leg shifts to the other side of the body, and then is raised up and slung back. There is less motion involved, and this actually makes it more difficult, as the kick uses the weight of the limb for part of its power. The #2 kick has more room to get the leg in motion.

Numbers 3 and 4 are relatively easy, as each involves moving the supporting foot, as described in previous kicks, and then executing the kick.

Inner Crescent Kicks

We've also been doing #2 Inner Crescent Kicks since the beginning as part of our active stretching process. As with the Outer Crescent Kicks, these kicks are of varying easiness, depending upon which leg we use.

For the #1 kick, the front leg is shifted a bit to the outside of the body, lifted up to kicking height, and dragged across the body to the opposite side. The striking surface is the inner side of the foot or actually the bottom of the foot.

As with most kicks, the #2 is far more powerful as the entire weight of the back leg is slung forward and then across the body.

Numbers 3 and 4 are about the same, involving moving the supporting foot. The biggest issue here is remembering which foot to move.

Camo Belt Kicks

The Camo belt kicks are the first that violate the #1 - #4 type grouping shown by all previous kicks. With these there isn't really any way to do that type of progression. However, I find it interesting that the ATA has still maintained a group of 4 kicks. It is consistent.

Reverse Side Kick, Step Reverse Side Kick

The Reverse Side Kick is initiated by turning your back on your opponent. The front foot swivels to point the heel at the target and the whole body turns away from the direction it was facing. Then the back leg is brought up in a side kick chamber, spin the head around far enough to see the target, and execute the kick. Rechamber the kick and then put it down in front, so that you are now in the opposite stance from what you started in.

The Step Reverse Side Kick adds just a bit to it. Step forward with the back leg, and then execute the kick from the new stance with what was the back leg treated now as the front leg, exactly as if it was a Reverse Side Kick. In this case, you end up in the same exact stance as you started.

Spin Side Kick, Step Spin Side Kick

The Spin Side Kick is performed exactly like a Reverse Side Kick, except for the finish. Here, instead of putting the foot down in front, you complete the 360 degree rotation and put the kicking foot back down where it started.

The Step Spin Side Kick is the complete analog to the Step Reverse Side Kick, with a similar conclusion. Here the final position is the stance you were in just as you completed the step.

Green Belt Kicks

Reverse Crescent Kick, Step Reverse Crescent Kick

The Reverse Crescent Kick starts similar to the Reverse Side Kick: Start by turning your back on your opponent. Spin most of the way around, and then lift the kicking leg up and execute a Crescent kick, landing forward in a stance opposite of what you started in. Mr. Wegmann suggests using a bent leg kick, where the kicking leg starts out bent maybe 30 degrees from straight. Just before the point of contact straighten the leg, whipping it up. I tend to rechamber the kick as if it was a front kick before putting the foot down.

The Step Reverse Crescent Kick adds just a bit to it. Step forward with the back leg, and then execute the kick from the new stance with what was the back leg treated now as the front leg, exactly as if it was a Reverse Crescent Kick. In this case, you end up in the same exact stance as you started.

Spin Crescent Kick, Step Spin Crescent Kick

The Spin Crescent Kick is performed exactly like a Reverse Crescent Kick, except for the finish. Here, instead of putting the foot down in front, you complete the 360 degree rotation and put the kicking foot back down where it started. In theory this is easier to do than a Spin Side Kick, but in practice it has proven not.

The Step Spin Crescent Kick is the complete analog to the Step Reverse Crescent Kick, with a similar conclusion. Here the final position is the stance you were in just as you completed the step.

Jump Side Kicks

This kick completely eclipses the Jump Front Kick as the most sadistic, painful, and tiring kick to perform. Unlike most previous kicks, there are only three versions of this kick, instead of the usual four. I'm told it's pretty much physically impossible to do a #4 Jump Side Kick.

For the #1 Jump Side Kick, step up with the back leg so it is right behind the front leg. Jump straight up in the air, tucking the back leg up under the body. Pull the front leg into a side kick chamber and execute the kick. Straighten the back leg and land on it first. It is nearly impossible to land on both legs at once.

The #2 Jump Side Kick is even more brutal. Spin so the back leg is just in front of the front leg. Now what was the back leg is now the front; execute a #1 Front Side Kick.

The #3 is the easiest: Step forward with the back leg and execute a #1 Jump Side Kick. The forward momentum makes the kick easier, similar to how the #3 Jump Front Kick was easiest.

Purple Belt Kicks

Hook Kicks

For anyone who has the side kicks down, this kick is relatively easy. For a #1 kick, pull the front leg up into a side kick chamber. Fire a side kick out to the side of the target, and then flex the knee to strike the target with the bottom of the heel.

The #2 hook kick has the same analogy to the #2 side kick, and so does the #3.

With the #4 kick the footwork is different. When stepping the supporting foot twists as far as it can to the outside, putting it in position for the kick. This takes a LOT of strain off the supporting knee. Other than that minor change, the kick is analogous to the #4 side kick.

Reverse Hook Kick, Step Reverse Hook Kick

As with the Hook Kicks, these kicks are very analogous to the Reverse/Spin Side Kicks. The only difference is that the kick is thrown "early" and the foot is swept through the target.

Spin Hook Kick, Step Spin Hook Kick

Again, similar to the previous Hook Kicks.

Jump Round Kicks

Never got to it, ain't gonna get to it ...


Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas