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Finlay's picture
crescent kicks

crescent kick are just as common in striking martial arts as front and side kick but i seldom see people practice it for anything more than a stretching exercise

what are poeple's thoughts on that kick, it's practical use and training on that kick

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Clearing it's meant to disarm a knife.



Kidding, the place where I see it as being applicable is for trapping/manipulating legs. You can use the same motion against front kicks and legs that get in the way, but it seems like most of the time it ends up being the knee or shin doing the work rather than the foot, and it's hard to call it a kick really.

I'm not sure I see this kick alot in traditional stuff other than TKD, is ti common in any other styles?

Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture

Hi Finlay,

the cresent kick is in many kata and a valuable techique, it can be used if say your hand is grabbing your opponents back, then use the cresent kick to hit the stomach etc, you would have to be side on or at 45 in order for this to work. Low cresent kicks are usefull for taking out the knees.

It can also be used in preparation to hit ones head, for example if you have winded your opponent and they have doubled over, or to if you have taken control of their arm and use the cresent kick to trap the arm for a beak, again they would have to be doubled over or injured in some way for this to work.

The cresent kick is also very usefull in grappling, say one is on their back and the opponent is moving in, use the cresent kick to trap the head, bringing the leg round the back of their head, neck etc.

We train the cresent kick on focus mitts and impact shields from the normal positions and from the ground as with all techniques.

There of course many other applications in which this great technique can be used for.

Hope this is of some help.

Kind regards,


Finlay's picture

it is quite common in Chinese styles, in some cases it might be a recent addition for sports wushu but even the traditional guys practice it

Wastelander's picture

To me, the crescent kick is only good for repeatedly busting up the inner legs, sweeping, using it to distract from something else you are doing, or for when you are on your back as Jason described. I also do not use it as a power strike because it hurts my bad knee.

mike23's picture

When you're in a standong clinch and your opponent is holding your wrist, using a "cresent kick" you can easily remove their grip by using your knee. However this is using the knee and not the foot as in a cresent kick.

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

I see the crescent kick as a "shoto-ism" that exists primarily in the shotokan style. I see it as an indication that a throw is to take place.

Otherwise, as said above, it is great to kick the side of the knees :)

Th0mas's picture

In my view the crescent kick is totally valid just some of the applications for it are a little dubious...

The current Crescent kick form in Shotokan, to my thinking, is another example of over-stylisation of a kicking technique through a desire to formalise and create uniformity.

In shotokan this is not unlike Yoko geri keage and Yoko geri kekomi. I believe both of those kicks (and maybe also the crescent kick having thought about it) may have been developed into two distinct kicks from a common original kick as the result of the divergence of form caused by shifting the target area up the body and the classic "must-copy-my-teachers-form-exactly" problem common in the development of martial arts styles.

The principle could originally have been: Attack the leg with a kick at this point. And you would have applied the kick as a stamp, thrust, flick or crescent (or combination of these) depending on your body mechanics in relation to your opponent...the aim being to drop your opponent so that you can hit him with a finishing strike or maintain further dominance..

It logically follows that at some point in the past someone formalised the kicks for particular targets or situations and then the kicks have have further evolved as the target area or situations have changed (kicking above waist height for example)....and so on and so on..

If you look at the Pinan/Heian Kata's from different karate styles, some apply a kick as a Mae geri and some as a Keage and some as a Kekomi...and yet they all have the same function (well..certainly originally).

BRyder's picture

Crescent kicks have three uses from a standing positon:

1. upward kick to the lower leg to create balance displacement

2. downward kick with the heel to the rear or side of the knee to create balance displacement

3. swiinging the leg over something (normally a seized arm) prior to a takedown of some kind

The kicks are often performed higher than in application to generate power, just as a golf club swings through the target too.

Crsecent kicks from a jumping positon are normlly indicative of:

1. throwng your body weight onto someone to bring them to the ground, if for exmaple your leg was seized, or to apply techniques  such as a triangle choke

2. with a turning jump they are indicative of jumping around and onto an opponents back and apply a technique suck as a strangle or tackle

Finlay's picture

alot of interesting applications,

so in the forms often you see people kick their hands either in the outward or inward version of this kick. I know often that we strike our hands qith elbows and fists to show we are locating the target and hitting it, but this seems a little odd for a crescent kick.

Maybe a more likely use to the kicked hand is to indicate to the person where the kick's target is, such a large circular motion could have many impact points, i think that sometimes using your hand would help in training

BRyder's picture

kickng in to the hand (just as puching or elbowing in to the hand) is merelt representative of the idea of having hold of the opponent prior to striking. I wouldn't read too much into the height of the hand being indicative of the height of impact.

karate10's picture

My thoughts exact....The Crescent kick is a vital kick is very handy in street application as a mean of lower attack to the inner thigh legs, knees,sweeping,e.t.c.

Tau's picture

I teach the crescent kick although often not as a kick. For example I swing it over a trapped arm to on the way to an arm-entrapped backwards rolling throw (hikikomi gaeshi). It also makes the shin choke (sune jime / the gogoplata). However, as fun as these are, I don't see them being all that practical. However, one of my Kempo Karate friends has it as a core technique. What he does is

- against a downed but still active opponent, stamp on their abdomen or groin, just to make them react by lifting their head up

- Low (about shin height) Crescent kick to their mush

Nasty but good.

Finlay's picture

some very intereting ideas that i never thoguht of.

i like the lower use of the kick as a sweep and it occurs to me it is similar to the opening of Yol Guk for those that are familar with the TKD forms, I was ataught that as up step in to sitting stance that the foot should make a semi circular motion, possbile to unbalance the opponent to make the punches more effective

Jon Sloan
Jon Sloan's picture

I tend to use crescent kicks in much the same way as BRyder and Th0mas indicate above.

Gavin Mulholland
Gavin Mulholland's picture

The problem with the cresent kick is the stress that it puts on the kicker's knee joints.

For most kicks, the power/impact line will feed the force along the leg and back in the same direction that the knee will naturally bend in - e.g. an overly powerful round kick would simply bend your own knee with no real problem.

With a cresent kick however, the force is all on the side of the knee - a lateral force along which the knee is not designed to bend.