Are Taekwondo Kicks Effective?

taekwondo player flying kick

Considering the flashy and ceremonial nature of some taekwondo kicks, it’s easy to question the effectiveness of these kicks in general. But are Taekwondo kicks effective?

Taekwondo kicks are very effective for competitions, self-defense, and street fights. Kicks such as the front kick, back kick, side kick, and Roundhouse kick are particularly fatal in a real-world situation.

Taekwondo is not just an art filled with high fancy ceremonial kicks.

It also has a good number of kicks that are strong enough to cause great damage to the body of an opponent.

Some of these kicks include the roundhouse kick, the front kick, the back kick, and the side kick.

These kicks can however vary in power and impact based on the person executing them.

Let’s now take a look at some of the most effective taekwondo kicks and how impactful they can be.

The Most Effective Taekwondo Kicks

Taekwondo is an effective martial art and its most trusted weapon (the legs) remains one of the strongest and most effective depending on how well and fast you execute them.

For example, if your kick is slow and you leave your leg out there, your attacker can grab it (of course not in a competition).

So, here are some of the most effective Taekwondo kicks.

The Roundhouse Kick (Dollyeo Chagi)

The infamous Roundhouse kick according to an Experiment conducted by the National Geographic Channel is one of the most effective kicks not only in Taekwondo but among other elite martial arts such as Muay Thai, Karate, and Capoeira.

The Roundhouse kick carries about 2,300 pounds of force upon impact.

The kick has gained a lot of popularity in movies and shows and can be a very powerful move once mastered.

This kick is executed by performing a pivot on the leg that is not kicking by turning your hips.

While conducting the pivot, make contact with the target by extending your leg and impacting the target with either the instep of the foot or the ball of your foot.

Here is a video from Howcast on how to perform a Taekwondo Roundhouse kick.

The Back Kick (Dwit Chagi)

The back kick is more advanced and is considered to be one of the most effective kicks carrying over 1,500 lbs. of force upon impact.

You would perform the kick by turning the body away from the target and pushing the back leg straight toward the target, hitting it with the heel while watching over the shoulder.

The turning motion gives the kick a lot of power.

However, proper execution is more difficult, and the primary challenges to the back kick are power and accuracy.

If not properly done, you can easily fall over or lose the crucial balance to make contact with your opponent.

Here is a video from Syaifullah Chapter on how to perform a Taekwondo Back kick.

The Front Kick (Ap Chagi)

The front kick is also known as the “snap kick” because of the high speed exerted in this move.

Although it is one of the first kicks taught in Taekwondo it remains one of the most effective and powerful even at higher levels.

In performing the ap-chagi, you must ensure that you land the ball of your foot on your target for more damage.

Your toes must bend backward to protect you from any injury.

And to ensure maximum power on the kick, your hips must also stay parallel.

You can choose to hit the target with the instep of your foot.

This kick can be used to hit the abdomen of the opponent.

You can also choose to hit higher, such as the opponent’s chin, by raising your knee higher.

Here is a video from Dojang Nim Academy on how to perform the Taekwondo Front Kick.

The Side Kick (Yeop Chagi)

The sidekick is a beginner technique that is very effective and powerful when done properly.

It is described as the “most powerful but the least understood.”

Perform this kick by raising your knee while also rotating your body by 90 degrees.

 Then extend your leg while exerting force at the same time.

You can connect harder with the target by using the momentum of your waist and torso.

Sidekicks are hard to defend and are intended to hit the opponent in the torso.

It can also be used to hit the lower body parts of an opponent, such as the knees.

The sidekick is quite powerful when done properly.

It is also versatile, as it can be used as a defensive or offensive move.

Here is a video from Howcast on how to perform a Taekwondo sidekick.

Push Kick (Mireo Chagi)

The push kick is very effective because it can quickly be executed and if done correctly, can push your opponent back and give you the needed space and time to regroup, especially in a competition.

You can also use this kick for self-defense since you can generate a lot of force by using it.

It can put more distance between you and your attacker and depending on the situation, may give you time to run.

A Push Kick is a kick in which you try to push your opponent away with the bottom of your foot.

It is somewhat performed like a Front Kick.

To execute this kick, first bring the kicking knee upward to point at the target.

Then extend the rest of the leg toward the target.

Depending on the height of the target, the striking surface can either be the ball of the foot, the heel of the foot, or the entire bottom of the foot.

Here is a video from MARTiALYOU on how to perform a Taekwondo Push kick.

What Is the Most Effective Kick in Taekwondo?

The most effective taekwondo kick is the Roundhouse kick which carries about 2,300 pounds of force upon impact. Other effective taekwondo kicks include the front kick, back kick, and push kick.

The Roundhouse kick is one of the most commonly used kicks in Taekwondo.

A scientific test was conducted by the National Geographic Channel to compare the speed and kicking power of Karate, Muay Thai, Capoeira, and Taekwondo which are all known to have some of the most lethal kicks.

The experiment proved the Taekwondo Roundhouse kick to be the most powerful with about 2,300 pounds of force. That’s so much force in one kick!

The Roundhouse kick also produced one of the highest ratios of force to velocity (16.91), making it the second most effective technique in the experiment only behind the Capoeira kick.

To help you better understand the effectiveness of the Roundhouse kick, here is a YouTube clip of the conducted experiment.

This video was pulled from the PORRADA YouTube channel.

This powerful kick can be used to knock out an opponent or break through their defenses.

Interestingly, it is easy to learn, making it beginner friendly.

Another strong taekwondo kick is the back kick which carries over 1,500 lbs of force upon impact.

While this is way less compared to the Roundhouse kick which has about 2,300 pounds of force, one cannot however deny the reasonable force that this back kick carries making it one of the strongest kicks in Taekwondo.

However, as stated earlier, the problem with this kick is that it is more difficult to properly execute compared to the Roundhouse kick which is beginner friendly.

Are Taekwondo Kicks Effective in a Street Fight?

Taekwondo kicks are very effective in a street fight especially when you utilize the basic kicks such as the front kick, sidekick, and Roundhouse kick, using less of the high-flying kicks.

This means that basic kicks such as front kicks, sidekicks, and roundhouse kicks are more effective tools in a street fight.

You should avoid flashy head kicks such as the spinning kicks as this might give your opponent the handle to barrow you around.

The truth is the simpler your kick, the more applicable it is to a real-world situation.

“Basic kicks are the most effective taekwondo kicks, especially for self-defense and street fights. In this situation, the simpler and safer your kick, the better”

Martial Arts Republic

So, stick to your basic taekwondo kicks if you find yourself in the middle of a street fight chaos.

Note, however, that while these kicks might be effective in real fights, taekwondo was not designed for this purpose.

Taekwondo as a martial art was originally designed as a self-defense tool that has grown into a soft vehicle of diplomacy for peace in today’s world.

Taekwondo is designed to help you de-escalate and avoid trouble, not make trouble.

So, avoid street fighting if possible, as taekwondo should not be used as a tool to promote violence and chaos.


As you can see, Taekwondo kicks are some of the most effective kicks in the world, and their impact can be deadly to the body of an opponent.

As you may have noticed, some of the most effective taekwondo kicks are basic kicks that are effective for self-defense and street-fight purposes.

The reality is that basic taekwondo kicks remain the most effective taekwondo kicks for real-world application considering the level of impact and the less risk involved in its execution.

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