Karate Side Kick – Yoko Geri Keage

Master the Karate Side Kick

The Karate Side Kick

In this article, we will study the application of the side kick, its use, various options of this kick, a step-by-step guide, and recommendations.

The side kick is a technique widely used in sparring, excellent for personal defense, and present in every martial art. In this article we will study this kick, we will see different variants, we will learn step by step how to execute it, we will delve into how to improve it and give it more power.

This is one of the main three kicks white belts learn, Front kick, Roundhouse, and Side Kick.

The snapping side-kick, the Yoko Geri Keage, and the thrusting sidekick, the Yoko Geri Kekomi. The important difference is the knee positioning and a little bit, of the emphasis on the hip, as well.

The thrust kick is more powerful and more penetrative, but of course a little slower. The snap-kick is lighter and quicker, but it rises up a little more, which is a little bit trickier to apply.

The Blocking Yoko Geri

The lateral kick or Yoko Geri can be used to stop an attacker, if he approaches to attack you a kick can be used to the knee, hip, stomach, and chest. If the kick is higher it is possible for the attacker to grab your leg and throw you down.

If you are being attacked on the street and you are cornered you can use this kick to push the attacker. This can give you time to perform another technique to defend yourself.

Different Karate Side Kicks

I have listed a few options that I have seen throughout all my years in training, here they are:

  • The Snapping Side Kick: This is a quick kick widely used in Kumite to score points, you can also see it in Kata and finally, you can use it in self-defense techniques.
  • The Thrusting Side Kick – Yoko Geri Kekomi: This kick is recommended for self-defense techniques, to push the attacker.
  • The Jumping Side Kick: The Jumping Side Kick is very powerful, it is not allowed in tournaments due to lack of control.

How to do a Yoko Tobi Geri or Jumping Side Kick

  • The Crossing Side Kick: This kick is used in Kumite, when crossing helps increase the intensity of the kick and also helps to cut the distance.
  • The Drop Side Kick: From a standing position, you drop down on your hands and knees to deliver the sidekick to your opponent.
  • The SideKick from the ground

This kick is for cases of extreme self-defense when the attacker has thrown or pushed the defender, it is here when the person defends himself from the ground with this sidekick.

Side Kick to the Stomach

The Yoko Geri to the middle zone requires alignment of the hip, knee, and ankle to push in a line.

Side Kick Step by Step
Toes are pulled back and the heel is pointed at the target.

Side Kick to Face / Head

The Yoko Geri to the face or head is more used in Kumite but it is also effective if it is applied in self-defense. This kick will require the alignment of the hip, knee, and ankle to be executed.

Side Kick to the head
The heel is pointed at the target and the other leg is pointed away from the target.

Adding Power to Your Karate Side Kick

A Yoko Geri can generate a lot of force and do a lot of damage. To increase the power in this kick it is necessary to use the strength of the hip and the alignment of the body. When we alienate the body it is possible to transfer more force in the execution of the kick.

Improving your Karate Side Kick

There are many ways to improve your Yoko Geri. There are specific exercises to train and improve this kick. It is advisable to practice it with a heavy bag so that the generated force is transferred to prevent a knee injury. It is important to perform the correct execution to generate a good technique.

It is important to develop good elasticity and flexibility to be able to execute any kick properly. I recommend the following exercises that have helped me develop flexibility and improve my kicking techniques. I recommend this article: How to Do the Splits in Two Weeks or Less

Karate Side Kick Step-by-Step

To execute this kick successfully consider the following recommendations:

  • Begin with a horse stance, and keep your knees bent a little.
  • Your arms should be chambered, elbows bent, and hand up at all times.
  • Bring your knee up as high as possible then flex your right foot so the heel points to the ground.
  • Pivot your toes away and point your heel towards your opponent.
  • Raise your hip.
  • Now throw your kick extending your leg to the target.
  • Keep your eyes on the target.
  • Bring your knee and leg back.
  • Get back to your starting stance.

As you master this kick you will be able to add a few extra moves such as crossing, jumping… As you get more flexible you can also aim higher, you will not only need to stretch your legs but also your hips.


  • Always keep a strong stance shoulder-width apart.
  • Make sure you pivot your front leg when kicking.
  • Keep your hands up when kicking.
  • Bring your knee up to align your body for this kick.
  • Kicking and aligning your body, create a line from your shoulder, elbow, hips, knee, and ankle.
  • Transfer the power you generated with this kick and go back to your fighting stance.

Karate Techniques

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