Hook Kick & Spinning Hook Kick

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The hook kick is one of the more difficult basic kicks to learn, but it is also one of the most difficult techniques for the opponent to read. Despite the basic hook kick’s lack of potential power when compared to other basic kicks, it serves as the prerequisite for one of the deadliest kicking techniques there is – the spinning hook kick.

Which parts of the leg do you strike with?

When striking a target with a hook kick or spinning hook kick, point your foot to help brace your ankle joint. This also serves to compress the achilles tendon, keeping it safe from being pulled, torn or severed. This is an important tendon to protect – without it you’ll lose the ability to walk. Not only does pointing the foot help protect you from injury, but it also makes your heel protrude out from your leg like the head of an axe. Strike your opponent with the edge or bottom of your heel. Flexing the foot instead of pointing it will make your achilles tendon stretched and tight (like a rope under tension), and make it much more likely to become injured if you catch it on an opponent’s elbow, knee or cranium. Do not ever strike a target with your achilles tendon if you can avoid it.

How to Hook Kick

The basic hook kick strikes the target horizontally (parallel with the ground). Other variations allow for striking at a downward angle, but we won’t be covering those in this article. Basic hook kicks can be thrown from both a squared stance and a side stance using either the lead or rear legs. For now we’ll start in a squared stance with a middle guard using the rear leg.

When starting from a squared stance, rotate your lead heel slightly inward. This will give you better balance during the kick and help prevent you from twisting and injuring your knee joint.

Next, rotate your supporting heel almost 180 degrees forward as you chamber your kicking leg and swing your knee all the way around to the other side. Your chambered knee should end up to the side of you, and be past the center line. The back of your kicking hip should now be exposed, pointing toward your target.

Extend your kicking leg outward almost as if your were throwing a side kick. But instead of kicking straight at your target, you would extend your leg just about in-line with the outside of your opponent’s shoulder.

Finally, begin to re-chamber your leg in a hooking motion as you strike through your target. Point your foot and strike with the edge or bottom of your heel.

In certain circumstances, hooking your kick early will allow you to hook around behind your opponent’s guard. While this results in a weaker kick, it can potentially allow you to strike at more vulnerable targets – like the back of the head. However, keep in mind that striking the back of the head is banned in most sanctioned combat sports.

How to Spinning Hook Kick

The modern spinning hook kick is the deadliest high kick you can learn in martial arts. Because of the rotation of the entire body before the kick, the spinning hook kick is able to greatly accelerate before reaching the target. Not only does it have great acceleration, but the impact of the strike is focused onto a small and solid point – the heel. This gives the kick tremendous penetrating power. And when you aim that strike at a vulnerable area like the jaw, you get an incredibly effective KO kick. The spinning hook kick can be thrown from multiple stances, however the steps and body positioning will vary slightly. There are also multiple ways to prep the footwork for the spinning hook kick. Some footwork positions help mask telegraphing for the kick, and others help increase the power of the kick. While this kick is more easily and efficiently done from a side stance, there are ways you can cheat the technique from a squared stance. For now we’ll start in a squared stance with a middle guard using the rear leg.

For this variation when starting from a squared stance, rotate your rear heel slightly inward. This will help position your hips to load up for the kick.

Next, cross-step slightly past your center line with your lead foot (which will now place you into more of a side stance). Point your heel and hips toward your target.

Beginning with your arms and shoulders, rotate and coil your upper body around and look over your shoulder using your peripheral vision to spot the target (the corner of your eyesight). Make sure your upper buddy is leaning away from your target during these steps. If you do not lean away from your target, it will be much more difficult to kick to head height.

Extend your kicking leg outward almost as if your were throwing a side kick. But instead of kicking straight at your target, you would extend your leg just about in-line with the outside of your opponent’s shoulder.

Finally, begin to re-chamber your leg in a hooking motion as you strike through your target. Point your foot and strike with the edge or bottom of your heel.

One final note: be sure to start re-chambering your leg (hooking it) a few inches before your heel actually impacts your target. This will prevent you from hyper-extending your knee joint.

Common mistakes with the hook kick and spinning hook kick

For the basic hook kick: keep in mind that if you extend your leg too far out from your opponent’s shoulder, you won’t have the power in your kick to pull your leg through the target. If you extend your leg too close to your opponent’s head before hooking your kick, you won’t have enough distance to accelerate your strike before you make contact. Finding that perfect distance is something that can only be achieved through practice. 

For the spinning hook kick: the biggest mistake you can make is to start the kick before you have coiled your upper body around and spotted your target over your shoulder. The coiling of the upper body is where the vast majority of the power is generated. Rushing past this step in an attempt to make your kick seem faster will only result in a slower, weaker, off-blance kick. It is normal to feel slow and awkward when first practicing this kick using all of the proper steps. But as you practice more and more the steps will begin to flow together more naturally and result in a smooth, fast, and devastating kicking technique.

Drills and Exercises for the Hook Kick

Repetition drills on a Body Opponent Bag. Pracitcing striking BOB’s head and pulling the kick all the way through to increase your power.

You can practice this kick in lesson 16 of Shane’s Hybrid Striking Course.

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