Front Kick in Karate

Front Kick in Karate Step by Step

In this article, we will analyze the frontal kick of Karate, we will study the proper execution, the way to exercise it, how to effectively apply it in self-defense techniques and sparring or Kumite. We will also talk about how to improve your kicking technique to advance your training in martial arts.

The front kick is one of those kicks that is found in many martial arts under different names, sharing mostly the same details. There are different combinations of foot maneuvers that provide different results. It is considered a basic kick but can present several variations by making small modifications or adding other moves.

  • In Japanese Karate the name for this kick is Mae Geri Keage (Front snap kick), Mae Geri Kekomi (Front Thrust Kick). In Taekwondo it would be Ap Chagi.

Mae Geri is a front kick in if you add Keage at the end would be Mae Geri Keage which means Front snap kick. If you add Kekomi at the end would be Mae Geri Kekomi which means Front thrusting kick.

  • Always use the ball of your foot on your front kick, it creates a thrusting point and can also provide a lot of damage.

The common targets for this kick are the knees, groin, stomach, neck, and face.

Blocking a Front Kick in Karate

A front kick can also be used to block or stop a technique. An example would be when the opponent is preparing to kick with a Roundhouse, then you can stop the move by using a front kick to the inside of the kicking leg or to the middle section.

If the attacker is coming to you with a punch you can use a front kick to kick the arm, on the tricep, or on the forearm. This would be mostly an option for a street self-defense technique.

If the attacker has a knife, then kicking the hand or arm holding that weapon with a front kick can be an effective move to get a few minutes to run or to apply a follow-up technique against the attacker.

Essential Karate Front Kicks

These are some of the essential Front Kick you must also know, here they are:

  • The Snapping Front Kick
  • The Thrusting Front Kick
  • The Jumping Front Kick
  • The Hopping Front Kick
  • The Crossing Front Kick
  • The Side Front Kick
  • The Drop Front Kick
Karate Front Kick
Karate Front Kick

Some instructors could name more Front Kicks based on other principles and situations, but these are the more realistic ones you will see and which you can use. All these kicks have different features and usage.

  • The Snapping Front Kick is a fast kick, the most common targets would be the knee, groin, and stomach. Mostly done with the front leg.
  • The Thrusting Front Kick is not fast but is powerful, done with the back leg, the most common target would be the middle section. The purpose of this kick is to push the opponent away from you.
  • The Jumping Front Kick has a few variants, but the most common would be to lift one knee and kick with the other leg. The targets would be the groin, stomach, and face.
  • The hopping Front Kick is a kick mostly used in sparring to connect and deliver the kick to the middle section and score a point. This kick is the one that I would use in a self-defense technique or in the street because it allows me to adjust my distance and deliver my kick.
  • The Crossing Front kick would allow you to cut the distance and add power to your kick, you will cross your feet to get close and then kick. You can use this version in sparring or self-defense techniques.
  • The Side Front Kick is the same kick you can do to the front but just look over your right and instead of doing a side kick adjust your hip and deliver a front kick. This Side Front Kick is very effective when you are sparring and want to stop an attacker from coming to you.
  • The Drop Front Kick is a defensive kick used for self-defense. Very useful if you are been pushed and you fall, once on the ground the attacker might get to you, and is then when you use both of your hands to support yourself while you execute a front kick to the attacker.

Adding Power to your Front Kick

Adding Power to your Front Kick
Adding Power to your Front Kick

A Karate Front Kick can be executed with the front or back leg, the front leg will be faster and the back leg slower but more powerful. The target height is very important because you need to consider several factors to do the perfect kick, if you try to kick too high and you are not flexible enough you will lose your balance and your back supporting leg will make you fall.

The key to adding power to your Front Kick is using the hip and lower back pushing forward. Here is a formula:

  • Proper Body alignment + Leg muscles + Hip & Lower back pushing forward + Kiaki = Powerful Front Kick

Step 1: You should be in a sparring position or on a basic stance.

Step 2: Here is where your hands are up and your knee is up aiming at the target. This step is very important because the knee leads the way before you make contact with your target.

Step 3: You keep your hands up while you deliver the kick to where you were aiming with your knee as shown in the picture.

  • A very effective kick that can be applied to the knee, stomach, throat, and face. Here we can see Mae Geri Keage with Zenkutsu Dachi.

Karate Front Kick Review

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart in a fighting stance.
  • Hands up to cover yourself.
  • Begin your kick by shifting your weight to your left leg and then bring your knee up as you prepare your kick.
  • Turn your toes up so your point of contact will be the ball of your foot and not your toes.
  • Extend your leg to deliver your kick and make contact with the target.
  • Snap your foot back.
  • Get back to your fighting stance.

Front Kick Stretching Exercises

There are several stretching exercises you can do to get your legs ready for a powerful front kick. Proper stretching of the supporting leg and the kicking leg is essential. Here are a few exercises you can do.

Supporting leg Stretching exercise

In the following leg stretching exercise we are working on our hamstrings and quads at the same time. These are essential when bringing the knee up and aiming the target before kicking. Make sure you execute this exercise on both legs.

Kicking leg Stretching exercise

The following exercise will target the hamstrings and calves. This is essential to help you reach your target when kicking. Make sure you execute this exercise on both legs.


Front Kick Recommendations

  • Your back should be straight
  • Your hands should be up at all times with any kicking technique
  • You need to lift the knee before throwing the kick
  • Use your hips to increase the power of your Karate Front Kick
  • The point of impact is the ball of your foot
  • The lead leg will kick faster but not as strong as your back leg

Karate Requirements

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