The Side Kick in Taekwondo

Master the Side Kick in Taekwondo

Side Kick

The Side Kick is a technique you will find in many other martial art styles with different names and a few differences, in Taekwondo is Yup Chagi. Here we will analyze it covering better execution, usage, common targets, and how to improve it.

Here we will learn how to do the Side Kick Step by Step and if you already know the execution then you can learn how to improve it.

This kick is highly used in sparring but watch out because it can hurt, that is why you must control it otherwise you can get disqualified if you are competing in a tournament. It requires normal flexibility but if you want to kick higher then you need to work on your stretching.

Stretching for the Side Kick

You can kick with the front leg or the back leg, but the front leg will be always faster than the back leg because you just lift your knee to kick your target. On the other way around, when you kick with your back leg you need to shift your weight and then align your entire body to kick the target.

You are required to stretch your entire body but mainly:

  • Your lower back
  • Your hips
  • Your hamstrings
  • Your quadriceps

You are required to properly warm up and then stretch evenly both legs.

Targets in the Side Kick

You can basically apply the Yup Chagi to any part of the body but the most common and effective targets are:

  • The knee, to stop an attack and move from the attacker.
  • The stomach, cut him in half and stop him from getting closer.
  • The ribs, to stop him from getting closer.
  • The head or face, no comments.

Side Kick Combinations

Some combinations will allow you to score in sparring while others will allow you to disable an attacker right away, these are just a few to mention:

  • Jumping Side Kick
  • Thrusting Side Kick with your back leg
  • Crossing Side Kick
  • Side Kick with your front leg
  • Skipping Side Kick
  • Front Leg Side Kick
  • Back leg or rear leg Side Kick
Side Kick Close up in Taekwondo
Side Kick Close up in Taekwondo

For Poomsae

Poomsae Side Kick

Use the edge of the foot bringing your toes back. Bend your torso to kick high.

For Breaking

The striking part would be the bottom of the foot or heel. Make sure your ankle is bent upward to avoid kicking with the ball of your foot.

For Sparring

Keep your hands up at all times and align your entire body to allow you to transfer the power you are generating better. Align your shoulder, elbow, hips, knee, and ankle.

How to improve your Side Kick

To improve your Side Kick you need to have a well-positioned upper body, this will make your kick flow easily naturally to you. There are variations of this kick but they do not matter if you do not master the basic steps of proper kicking.

You need to practice this kick with a punching bag or a person holding the kicking pad for you because you need to transfer the power you generate otherwise your knee can overextend or absorb the impact.

The Non-Kicking Leg

The Non-Kicking Leg

  • This is your support leg, make sure:
  • You do not bend this leg at all because is your main support
  • Always pivot on the ball of your foot
  • Turn your non-kicking foot away from the target

Side Kick Step by Step

  • Stand sideways facing your target
  • Lift your knee of your front leg and keep your hands up
  • Now drive your knee out to your target, extend your leg
  • Align your knee, hip elbow, and shoulder in a line when you kick your target
  • Rotate your pivoting foot to open up and align as you kick to add more power
  • After kicking bring your knee down keeping your guard up
  • Stay in a fighting stance to repeat your kick again


  • Bring your knee up before kicking and aim with your knee.
  • Look at your target and then extend your leg to kick it.
  • Keep your knee, hips, and shoulders aligned when kicking.
  • Always keep your hands up because if you don’t you will hit your own elbow.
  • Do not practice this kick if you have any injuries on your knees, go to your doctor to avoid further damage

How to block a Side Kick?

There are several ways to block a Side Kick, these are just a few to mention:

  • Using a low block
  • Lifting your knee
  • Stepping back
  • Stepping to the side
  • Shorting the distance as soon as the attacker tries to lift his leg

Random Questions

When you can use this kick?

  • You can use it to push an attacker away from you. To keep distance in sparring. You can use it at the end of a self-defense technique to complete it.

How can I improve my stretching? I want to kick higher.

  • Kicking higher is possible but you will not only need to stretch your legs but your entire body. Because when you kick your entire body has to adjust to a new posture to allow one leg to reach the target while the other holds your entire weight.

To kick higher you must stretch your lower back, hips, torso, and legs. Here is a great full-body stretching session that can help you kick higher.

Taekwondo Techniques

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