Krav Maga Techniques: Kicks You Should Know For Self-Defense

The most important Krav Maga moves.

Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense is a principle based system. It was designed that way by it’s creator, Imi Lichtenfeld, so that the system could be easily learned and bring people to a high level of proficiency in hand-to-hand combat in a very short period of time.

One of the main principles of Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense is to defend and counterattack simultaneously. This principle is applied to all Krav Maga levels and to all techniques and scenarios that we train on. 

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To counterattack effectively, a person must know how to use striking techniques effectively. In the Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense system, striking techniques are known as “combatives”. Students learn to fight and defend themselves by using punches, elbows, knees and kicks.

In Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense Level 1 there are three kicks that students have to learn, and demonstrate effectiveness with, in order to progress into higher krav maga levels. 

These three kicks are important in terms of progression through the Krav Maga belt system and  because they are, really, “must know” kicking techniques for effective self-defense. A huge number of assaults, or fights, or self-defense situations do end up at close range or on the ground. However being able to establish distance from an attacker or opponent, maintain that distance and do damage, is an incredibly valuable skill that can keep you out of that close range or off of the ground.

Many people don’t know how to effectively use kicks, they underestimate the value of powerful kicking and quite simply don’t expect to get kicked. In this blog we’ll take a look at three kicks you absolutely must know for effective self-defense. 

Front Kick To The Groin

Stick defense with front kick to the groin

One of the unique things about training at a Krav Maga Worldwide certified training center is that we teach a no-holds barred hand-to-hand combat system. The combatives we teach students to use will usually target a vulnerable area on the opponent or attacker….like the groin, throat, or eyes. Training to strike targets like these gives students the opportunity to inflict damage on an opponent that not only causes pain, but reduces the opponent’s ability to function.

These types of combatives or striking techniques are often seen as “dirty” or “cheating” and they would be illegal in a sanctioned sport fight or competition. Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense teaches a different mindset. We believe that no technique is “dirty” or “illegal” if your life is on the line. The fundamental kicking technique in Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense is a front kick to the groin. 

front kick to the groin

How to throw it.

Front kick to the groin is a rising kick that is thrown with the intent of going up the attacker or opponent’s “A frame” and through the groin. The kick is thrown by driving the knee of the kicking leg forward, as if the kicker is going to drive their knee through the attacker or opponent at an angle slightly higher than the target, then unfolding the leg from the knee.

The striking surface for a front kick to the groin is the top of the foot (think shoelaces) or the shin, depending how deep/close to the attacker or opponent the kicker is. We use a flat foot as the striking surface.

Think about pointing your toes toward the attacker or opponent, not up to the ceiling or sky. This gives the kicker a wide and long striking surface as opposed to just the surface area presented by the width of the point of the foot. Once kick makes contact with the target, we immediately recoil the kicking leg, back to the fighting stance. Check out this video to see front kick to the groin in more detail. 

Front Kick With The Ball Of The Foot

learn to kick for self-defense

Where front kick to the goin is a rising kick that goes South to North on a vertical plane, front kick with the ball of the foot (sometimes called a ‘front kick to a vertical target’ or ‘teep’ or ‘push kick’ or even just ‘front kick’) travels on the horizontal plane, like a straight punch extending out from the kicker and through the target.

We make the distinction of using the ball of the foot as the striking surface because we consider this to be an “offensive” kick. The intention is strike targets and make as much damage as possible.

There is another kick in the Krav Maga system, which students learn in higher krav maga levels, that is similar but more of a “defensive” option that uses more of the entire foot as the striking surface with the intent of stopping or pushing back an advancing attacker. 

More details on using this kick.

Front kick with the ball of the foot targets the attacker’s midsection. The idea is to punch through the attacker’s midsection with the ball of the foot and fold them in half. Realistically this kick could also target the groin or, once the kicker is proficient with the mechanics of the kick, it could be thrown at higher targets like the neck and face.

In the Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense system, when students are first learning to fight and learning to throw combatives, we emphasize keeping kicks somewhat low so as not to throw the kicker off balance.

Front kick with the ball of the foot can also be thrown lower than than the attacker or opponent’s midsection and strike the groin but it generally doesn’t have the same accuracy when targeting the groin as the front kick to the groin, which rises up the “A” frame. 

Learn to fight by using kicks.

How to throw it.

To throw a front kick with the ball of the foot, the kicker starts by bringing the knee of kicking leg up, as if they are going to bring their knee to their own chin. The kicker than opens their hips (think of driving the bellybutton forward) and shoots the kick straight out toward the attacker or opponent’s midsection (again, the targets could be higher or lower but generally we think midsection).

The striking surface is, of course, the ball of the foot, so the kicker has to pull the toes of the kicking foot back slightly in order to strike with the ball of the foot. Remember the ball of the foot is not the heel, even though the heel looks a bit more like a ball.

The ball of the foot is the area directly beneath your toes. Just like the front kick to the groin, once the kick is sent, whether it makes contact or not, it is immediately recoiled so as to maintain a good fighting stance and position. Check out the video below for more details on front kick with the ball of the foot. 

Round Kick

In the Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense system this technique is referred to as “round kick” not a “round house kick”.

The kick travels on an angle on the horizontal plane, generally East to West or West to East. Depending on the target and the kicker’s ability the direction could be something more like Southwest to Northeast and vice versa on a rising angle (think of targeting the attacker or opponent’s head in this way), or the opposite…something like Northwest to Southeast on a downward angle (think of targeting the attacker or opponent’s knee in this way). 

When students are first learning round kicks, we emphasize targeting the opponent or attacker’s knee on their lead leg.

If you think about causing damage to an attacker or opponent that limits their function, taking out their knee takes away their legs and their base, making them more vulnerable or perhaps even knocking them completely off of their feet and providing an opportunity to get away.

In higher krav maga levels, as students become more proficient with round kicks, going to higher targets becomes more of an emphasis. KM Bag class is a great way to work on building power in round kicks and in perfecting the mechanics that allow for higher kicks.

How to throw it

To throw a round kick, start by bringing the knee of the kicking leg forward on a slightly high angle. This loads the kick on the outside of the kicker’s body in preparation for taking it across and through the target.

The kicker then pivots on the non-kicking foot (or base foot) so that the heel goes toward the opponent or attacker, opens the kicking hip, and rolls their kicking side shoulder toward their chin, to shoot the kick through the target.

Movement with the base foot is often one of the most difficult parts of the technique to become used to. The base foot has to turn (heel toward the opponent or attacker) in order for the kicker to swing their hip across their body and make the kick. If the kicker doesn’t pivot the base foot, they can take a lateral step into the kick instead.

It’s important that this lateral step or pivot is made however because it is basically what adds power to the round kick. The striking surface for the round kick is the top of the foot or the shin. Generally the shin is ideal because it’s very structurally sound and capable of inflicting a lot of damage. Like the other two kicks, the kicking leg is immediately recoiled back into position in the fighting stance. Check out this video to see more about round kicks in detail.

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These three kicks are taught in Krav Maga Worldwide® level one self-defense because they give students a solid fundamental base for making long distance damage.

Anyone who wants to become more proficient in self-defense should know how to make a front kick to the groin, front kick with the ball of the foot, and round kick. The ability to make powerful kicks that travel in these different angles, from this range, with the intent of causing functional damage as well as pain to an opponent or attacker, will give anyone a better chance to fight back, win, and go home safe if they are assaulted.

You can start learning these kicks, and how to become incredibly effective with them, by training at a Krav Maga Worldwide® certified training center. Many of our locations will let you take a trial class for free! If you are wondering “where can I find krav maga classes near me”, check out our searchable map here to find the certified training center closest to you. You can also give us a call 1-800-572-8624 or fill out our contact form here on the website and we’ll help you!