How to Side Kick – Tips for Power and Balance

How to Side Kick – Tips for Power and Balance

Hey, it’s Ando again from
Today, I want to talk about something
that really drives me nuts.
I’m talking about bad side kicks. It’s
like a plague. You see these everywhere.
Models, actors, so-called certified
fitness instructors. All these
good-looking people with their hips
sticking out, their knee crooked,
toes pointing up, and sometimes even their thumbs up and a tongue hanging out.
Look, if that sounds like you, I’m
sorry. But the good news is, I think
I can help you. Today, I’ve got three tips to
make your sidekick stronger,
balanced, and ultimately, better for your
Let’s take a look.
Okay. If you want to learn how to throw a
powerful sidekick,
I don’t want you to listen to your
teacher. I don’t even want you to listen to me.
I only want you to listen to your body.
Ask your body these two simple questions–
Question number one: Hey, body, do you
like it better when I swing my leg
forwards and backward, or do you like it
when I swing side to side?
I’ll bet one of those feels better than
the other. Question number two:
Hey, body, do you like it better when I
stomp on my heels
or when I stomp on the sides of my feet?
In fact, don’t even try that one.
If your body is anything like mine and
you’re not built like a jellyfish,
I’ll bet your body just told you
something about throwing sidekicks.
It probably just told you that your body is
built to deliver and receive pressure
and force along the joints, not across
the joints.
That’s the way you’ve been walking, and
running, jumping, and climbing your entire life.
Which brings us to an interesting
discovery– the sidekick is not actually
thrown to the side of your body.
If you put pressure across your ankle,
across your knee, or even across your hips,
You’re just asking for pain and problems.
Now, yeah, you can get away with not
turning your body if you’re just hacking
away at low targets like ankles and shins
and maybe alligators, but as a general
rule, I want you to remember this–
the higher you kick, the more you have to
pivot. I’ll say that again–
the higher you kick, the more you have to
Okay. Listening to our bodies, here come
three tips to throw a more powerful side kick.
Tip number one: Make sure you turn your
support foot. Make sure that force is
running along your foot, not across it.
On offense, it’s not so easy to throw a powerful kick if you’re driving in off the side of your knee or
the side of your foot. On defense,
if you get jammed up because your timing is off, or they catch your foot and throw this back at you,
all that pressure coming in is going to cause you to roll your ankle or tear your knee.
So, if you’re going to throw a side kick, make sure you turn that support foot.
That’s going to give you the power to
really cause some damage. And if things
go wrong, it’s going to give you the ability to absorb it and hopefully walk away and reset.
Tip number two: Kick with your heel, not the blade of your foot.
I know. There’s lots of people out there
who will tell you go ahead and kick with
the blade of your foot. I’m just not one of them.
If you’re kicking with the blade of your foot and it’s working for you, keep it up.
But for me, when I stick the
blade of my foot onto a target,
all I feel is pressure on my ankle and my
knee. I don’t want any part of that.
What I prefer is to make sure my heel is digging straight into that target like throwing a spear.
I can feel the alignment of my bone and
my muscle right behind that. It feels no
different than stomping on the ground.
And that’s good for me and bad for the other guy.
Tip number three may be the only one you
need, because if you do this one right,
both of your feet will take care of
themselves. Here’s the tip–
Get your butt in line. This is what I
mean. You’ve got three parts to this kick–
your heel, your butt, and your torso. Try
to line those up as best as you can for
a really good side kick.
Here’s the wrong way to do it. Foot is up,
you’re looking cool, but your butt is not
in alignment at all. Your butt is sticking out.
Why is that a problem? Well, on offense,
you’re not using the biggest muscles
that you’ve got to deliver power.
On defense,
if this gets crushed and pushed back into
you, all that power is going to get stuck
right here and pinch your
ribs and your hip.
That’s uncomfortable and will probably
knock you off balance.
So, here’s what I think– aim your butt to
kick their butt. Meaning–I aim my butt
then I can kick their butt. That’s probably
why I like it.
Because it feels like there’s trash talk built
right into the technique.
I don’t even have to open my mouth.
I just turn, kick, enjoy.
So, now you know the secret to a
powerful side kick is making that full pivot.
Now there are three ways that you
can time that pivot.
The first way would be to make the pivot first and then send out the kick second.
The second way would be just to
pivot halfway and then while you’re
finishing the kick, crank over the supporting foot.
The third way is more for speed,
where you’re just going to send that foot up as fast as you can in a straight line and
right at the moment of impact,
crank over your support foot.
Now, they’re all fine.
There’s a time and a place for
everything. Just make sure that at the
moment of impact, your body has turned
fully and this leg feels just as strong
as when you were swinging it or when you
were stomping the heel. If you don’t do that,
I promise you– one, your kick is not going
to be very strong,
two, you’re probably going to get knocked off balance a lot more than you should,
three, you look ridiculous, especially if
your tongue is hanging out of your mouth,
and four, there’s a good chance you’re
going to end up with injuries in your
ankles, your knees, and your hips.
So, listen to your body and let it tell
you how to throw a sidekick.
Okay, that’s it. If you like that tip, guess
what? I’ve got more coming.
Don’t forget to hit subscribe and you
won’t miss the next one. Even better,
jump over to and get on my email list.
That way, you won’t miss one podcast,
article, or video I put up.
Until next time, keep kicking and keep fighting for a happy life.

100 thoughts on “How to Side Kick – Tips for Power and Balance”

  1. Why are you Sensei if you practice kung fu? That's kinda wrong, you should be called Shifu.
    I know it means the same thing, but kung fu teachers should be called Shifu in all countries

  2. Back in the early/mid 80’s (age 11 or so) I learned the sidekick by slow four count repetitions, grabbing on to the back of a chair for support. A deep chamber, but level, not turned over. Years later I switched from TKD to Moo Duk Kwon, where the sidekicks looked closer to yours. Uechi Ryu taught me non-chambered kicking, where the side kick is designed to go into the pelvis. Great video.

  3. Ahhh awesome! I get it now!! I was doing exactly what you said not to do at the start and it does really hurt haha. The turning the butt part is really helpful as well as turning the posting foot around. Also, you're hilarious haha.

  4. Your knee is down why is your knee down I know you're old but if you're going to make a video like this trying to tell people how to sidekick then do it right AND KEEP YOUR KNEE UP

  5. This correct approach was taught to me when I was learning to throw a sidekick in my TKD classes. Thanks for the posting, reinforces what I learned.

  6. My Sèng(sensei) also teaches me to use my heel to kick it's just that idk if I don't have enough strength in my leg or it's not flexible enough

  7. This is one of the most realest Tutorials i dislocated my knee because of that same side ways side kick it is something I would never wish on anyone great video

  8. Very very good instruction and explanation on the techniques. I also fully agree with the logic behind it and that rather than solely look at the kicking action itself (like most instruction I have encountered including in a class setting), you address the consequences of the kick itself for your own body and compromised position at the end of it. All in all I'd say that it's an angled sidekick which has the best of both world's in terms of power delivery and structure whilst also allowing eye's on the target, something you don't get from a pure backheal kick.

  9. I want to integrate sidekicks into my fitness plan in hopes of getting rid of my love handles and and of course it's useful in self defense situations. Thank you Sensai Ando very comprehensive video

  10. How to side kick:

    1. Stand up
    2. Don't sit down.
    3. Wear socks, you might catch a chill with bare feet.
    4. Don't kick forward or backwards.
    5. Make sure you fasten your shorts/trousers on tightly to stop them dropping off, otherwise you might fall over.
    6. Only attempt side kicks on a flat surface, if you try to do them on a boat at sea in a tidal wave you may get poor results.
    7. It is better to side kick when you havent got symptoms of diarrreah or you might get poo track lines down your legs.
    8. Don't wear a kilt when doing side kicks or you might give ladies a big surprise.

  11. Thank you Sensei, the first pivot on your back leg would be the most powerful out of the three since the last pivot was least powerful right?

  12. "listen to your body" I am practicing martial arts. I started with basic combos with the Bo staff. I loved the weapon, everything about it. The feel, the style of the strikes, and the power. Eventually I became a bit better with it. Began basic twirls and seamless combos. Learning where my body gets it strength for strikes. I've hit a snag and I keep getting the same results. Then I heard you say "Don't even listen to me, listen to you body" you made me realize that where I am the most comfortable, where it is the most natural for my body to go is where your power comes from. And it even protects from long term damage to your body. You may have saved my knees from aches! Humans were built to run and climb, the joints are strong along them, not across! Exploit your resources and you will profit haha

  13. Great points. My height kick, I need to know, how to angle a side kick. 1 step at a time, as I can't stretch a 180o stretch(no way). Hit with the heel, seems reasonable. Do some classes hit with side of foot? Hmm…I can only work efficiently within my range of flexibility. Been years since I took lessons, and not recall any technical training with the kicks, which is most important,

  14. Actually i came from karate background and the side kick is called yokogeri. It was meant to be targetted in the collar bone area with the blade of the foot aiming at the neck just like keeping a sword at the neck. And the main area should be the side/blade of the foot just below the ankle bone. In karate that is. And i have no complaints about the twisting of the support foot and the way how u explained how to kick. So yea Nice Video overall

  15. This helped me so much. My hips hurt due to improper technique. I tried these tips and they worked first for second try with no hip pain though they still hurt. Thank you. Will be watching more videos.

  16. Makes a video about back kick with your body out of line and calls it sidekick, then makes another video saying you dont care that its not a sidekick WOW

  17. You quit Tae Kwon Do. But, you kept the side kick and the shoes! lol Your side kick alignment is generally correct with the exception of when you are chambering your foot and knee in front of your body. The distance between the heel and your target more than doubles if you do that. Not to mention loss of balance and power. Notice you do not do that when you demonstrate the full kick. You correctly bring the heel up in front of your fully rotated hip as per the first part of your explanation. Edit out the chambering in front part. The rest is 100% correct. The instructor who taught you that kick is the best teacher you will ever have. It will save your ass on the street. Too bad they wouldn't let you make your fashion statement with the red top.

  18. The reason why this kick won't land is because you are telegraphing the movement and not setting it up.. The best sidekicks are the slide and the snap. They are hard to see coming. Kickboxing is the way.

  19. Through listening to my body I actually did this. Aim with the butt that is. Also knowing and applying some things from boxing really accelerated this. The shoot from the hip thing is universal in all martial arts.

  20. I like teaching the side kick as an adaptation of the back kick. In fact, I think the back kick should be taught first along with kansetsu geri and finally the waist height or higher side kick. Involving the same muscles as the side kick, the straight-line back kick is naturally easier to do. Also, the back kick conveys the same power-feel as the side kick (or it should, IMO). So, start with teaching the back kick. Then transition to the side kick by keeping the body to the side when kicking instead of facing away from the opponent as with the back kick. Emphasize keeping the supporting foot facing away along the straight line you illustrate.

    Kansetsu geri should be introduced during the transition to a full-fledged side kick. Being a low side kick, Kansetsu geri requires less balance and body coordination than the side kick. It also provides fantastic feedback as to the power and speed of a side kick.

  21. Sidekicks are probably my favorite kick since they are powerful & can be executed faster than your opponent can react to it. Also, you should be safe from any kick or hand strike to your head when kick is fully extended. I watched the Holly Holms and Nunes fight where Holly was knocked out from doing a side kick. I think she half committed to it so her upper body was not leaned away enough and possibly not in a good side stance facing her opponent. When I was a lower rank in karate I sparred brown belts & got caught in the ribs trying to close distance to punch many times. Also, I had taken kickboxing for over a year being trained by a coach that loved sidekicks. I always try to focus that heel and try to penetrate the target, chambering the kick with the hips really tight, fast as possible. I enjoyed this teaching of it. I got a lot out of this as the sidekick was taught from a different perspective, explained a little different from how I was taught. It is a more complex kick to learn as is the hook kick.

  22. It funny you quit tkd and you SHOW the most powerful kick Done in TKD. You learn that kick at white belt and perfect it as you grow in the Art. But there Is more to this kick then just turning your foot showing your butt. Clearly you Left out those little details which makes this kick So bad ass.

  23. What you are referring to as a side kick is what I learned as a back kick. – Something used to surprise (with power) anyone approaching you from your six.

    You are right, though… …My experience with TKD (American Freestyle) was progressing slowly to begin then became stagnant. Further, there was even a couple Judo instructors brought it for throws (though one couldn't "throw" me without my assist) and learning of knife throwing, tomahawk chucking, and spear throwing. (Nothing in those is TKD.) – Yes, we spend more time "warming up" than we did actually learning.
    I did not go beyond yellow before ending it. – Still have not found one that right for me. – I get just as much training from what is seen in movies (real or not) than I did from my instructors.

  24. To me what you are doing is what I call frontal side kick because frontally you face your target and then turn your hips and buttocks to align with the target then stretch a side kick. I used the heel and blade of the foot- not totally the whole heel but a portion of it, and a part of the blade of the foot connected with that portion of the heel. A side kick should be one that your side is the one facing the target and then side kick in that side view position. Thanks

  25. As always: a good and informative vid. I prefer the half pivot as that works best for me. When I was initially training in traditional karate (way back in 1978!), we were taught to kick completely sideways with the blade.. I like how you explained the way the forces act on your body if you don't twist. I remember so many times kicking and pushing myself away from my opponent rather than the other way around. When I began TKD (several years after attaining my 1sr Dan) I learned to twist! What a difference! More speed, more power and (in my experience) greater control to set up for my next kick or punch. Today, I am older and not so fast. My hips hurt. I wonder if that is a result of doing the side kick the "old fashioned way" as well as doing roundhouse kicks with the ball of my foot (felt like a frigging pretzel!).

  26. Agree 1000% on the best way to teach the basic, except you are so turned almost looks like a back kick instead and some times in fighting you dont have time to fully turn the plant foot or even get just heel on your target.


  28. Last time I've watched your video that why did you quit taekwondo. He is like attacking taekwondo When he mentioned about "side kick with the blade". Hahahaha FYI you must know the different between "back kick" and "side kick" what you are demonstrating is back kick and not a side kick. When you kick with the blade it's Side kick but if you kick with the hill, it's a back kick. Every kick has its own name for it's different purposes😊

  29. I don't get it, I have never.. never.. been able to do a proper side kick… never.. !! I watch one video and suddenly I deliver a perfect side kick (well nearly) awesome .. I'll be back..

  30. My instructor is teaching about starting in horse stance, kicking with the blade of the foot, and the grounded foot should not change position during the kick. What are your thoughts?

  31. I love front /front jump kick,roundhouse kick,back kick & low side kick,and a few high spinning & hook kicks.fav is the thunderous front kick & pivoting back kick.enough for me.
    Either snap kick or will break your block and enter.
    Sheer speed & power in one or two kicks is enough.
    Hate higher side what you say is hitting the nail on its head.

  32. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I was taught and practice the same technique for kickboxing. I lost my instructor recently. The new instructor is teaching an abductor lift as a "side Kick". I became sassy and complained how it is not a side kick without setting heel, chambering leg & kicking with heel. I was told their kick is just a different style. This is BS. The mechanics are prone to an injury with a side lift. The trainer clams to be traditionally trained. Time for another trainer. Thank you again for your video. I refuse to travel backward in my training.

  33. Very good point about not hitting with a blade of the foot. It can work fine when barefooted, but when wearing boots with thick sole, we can easily damage our ankle hitting like this, since the distance from our ankle joint to the point of impact will be much longer

  34. Interesting what you said about injury going against the natural bend direction of ankle and knee. It's vital to build the structure around your knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, shoulders, and hips. You don't want an off balance or not perfect strike to cause you injury. When fighting, if you have an opening and the opportunity to hit a good spot, you don't want to hold back for fear of injury, unless it's extreme. So we must work on having strength to deliver strikes from weird positions and not always worry about injury. I hope I am being clear. I think optimal position is good to know and strive for, but also be able to hit from wrong/incorrect apositions. Make sense?

  35. I’d argue respectfully sir your syntax is a little incorrect if we go off feel rather than the science. Because the applications tho similar are quite different

    You are performing a backKick imho. Your back faces target and back muscles groups used. On kick impact you will bound away from target and there is little way to pump a back kick towards target. Will lose significant reach but have more controls over an evasive follow up

    Sidekicks happen with a lead bladed hip, shoulder, lead foot and utilize the side muscle groups and a combination of the outer quads and hams. With a side position, you can laterally pump a side chamber towards a target for more reach. On a side rechamber more options of aggressive follow up are at play, than a back rechamber. Tho us kickers we can mix our rechambers can’t we! 👍

    I also argue separately there are both a turn sidekick and also the turn backKick with anywhere between 90 to 270degs of rotation based on initial stance & target like if initiated from 90 squared, 45 kickboxer, or 0 bladed… and if your target* is centered in front, or inner or outer angle. The rotation will give more room to generate power accordingly (and present more reaction options), but generally the applications remain similar.

    All this aside tho haha in my years the quickest method to teaching the sidekick because I concur everyone starts with a heeled round kick is to over compensate it n teach em the back kick in hopes they can zero in on the sidekick

    I think of my pup Nimbus lifting his leg up to piss haha. Cheers sir! OS🙏


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