Karate Kicks: A Full List

Karate Kicks

The striking art of karate is known for having some of the most effective and powerful kicks of any martial art. Many people often ask how many Karate kicks are there in the martial art and we have an answer for you.

Here’s the complete list of basic Karate kicks that are taught within the martial art. Read the full list of kicks along with their Japanese names and how to execute them.

How Many Karate Kicks Are There?

Within the original teachings, there are over 20 Karate kicks taught within the martial art. However, within different variations of Karate, different variations of these kicks are likely taught with different names.

All forms of Karate use the same basic Karate kicks, but each form will also teach alterations of those kicks.

Mae Geri(Front Kick) 

The Mae Gari or front kick is one of the signature Karate kicks within the martial art. It’s a powerful thrusting kick that can target both the midsection and head of an opponent.

To throw the Mar Gari, your heel raises off the mat, followed by the foot. Then in one quick motion, your knee raises to your chest and your foot snaps forward at your opponent. 

With the Mae Gari, the ball of your foot hits the target. Watch out landing toes first or you’ll likely break your toes.

Yoko Geri(Sidekick)

The Yoko Geri or sidekick is one of the most powerful techniques of all the Karate techniques. Another powerful thrusting kick that is landed with the heel.

Throwing the Yoko Geri is done in a three step process. Your foot comes off the ground and your knee comes up to your chest to chamber the kick.

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Then quickly, you unchamber the kick and drive your foot towards your opponent aiming to hit with your heel. This kick is generally thrown to the midsection, but can also be thrown to the head, which can KO your opponent.

Yoko Geri
Screenshot

Mawashi Geri(Roundhouse Kick) 

In Karate, the roundhouse kick or round kick is referred to as Mawashi Geri. It’s not only one of the most powerful Karate kicks, but one of the strongest in all striking martial arts.

To execute a Mawashi Geri, you first take a slight step to the outside with your non-kicking foot. You then lift the knee of your kicking leg up, turn your hips, and snap your kick at your opponent.

Aim to hit your opponent with the end of your shin. You can also hit your opponent with the ball of your foot if you’re at a longer range.

Ushiro Geri(Back Kick) 

Ushiro Geri is the term used for a back kick in Karate. This Karate kick is also known as a turn sidekick within some circles of Karate practitioners.

The Ushiro Geri is a turn added before a sidekick to increase the force and power of the kick. To throw the back kick, slightly turn your front foot in and turn your back to your opponent.

Next, look over your shoulder to see your target, lift your knee and throw the sidekick.

Hiza Geri(Knee Kick.Knee Strike) 

A Hiza Geri is the knee strike used within various forms of Karate. It looks very similar to the basic knee strike used within Muay Thai and the same mechanics are used within its execution.

It’s a quick strike where your heel comes off the mat and you drive your knee directly at your opponent. Another important detail with this strike is to keep your toes pointed at the ground.

Fumikomi Geri(Stomping Kick)

The Fumikomi Geri is a counter kick to the back of an opponent’s knee when they’re coming in to attack. When they come forward, you take a side-step and throw a downward sidekick at their knee to destabilize them.

This Karate kick has the same mechanics as the Yoko Geri or sidekick. However, instead of targeting your opponent’s body, you target their knee. Please be careful practicing these type of Karate kicks, because they can severely damage your partner’s knee.

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Hiza Jodan Mae Geri(Front Knee Kick To The Head)

A Hiza Jodan Mae Gari is essentially a fake knee switched to a front kick to the head. The two Karate kicks combined together are designed to hide your real attack.

To throw this kick, lift your knee straight up like you’re throwing a knee strike. Then at the last second, snap your foot up and throw your front kick to the head.

Mae Hiza Geri(Front Knee Kick)

The Mae Hiza Geri is a front knee strike or spearing knee like what is used in Muay Thai. Your knee lifts up as you drive it forward like a spear.

Soto Mawashi Geri(Outside Roundhouse/Circle Kick) 

A Soto Mawashi Geri is also known as an outside roundhouse or circle kick. During the execution of this kick, your leg rotates outward and inward. The circling of your leg works as a redirection to hide your attack.

Uchi Mawashi Geri(Inside Roundhouse/Circle Kick) 

An Uchi Mawashi Geri is the reverse of a Soto Mawashi Geri. It’s another one of the circling Karate kicks that are used as misdirection to trick your opponent. For the execution of this kick, your leg rotates inward and then outward.

Yoko Mawashi Geri(Side Roundhouse Kick) 

The Yoko Mawashi Geri is two Karate kicks put into one. It initially starts off as a roundhouse kick and switches to a sidekick. 

It starts the same as a roundhouse where you turn your foot, hips, and lift your knee up. At the last second, you redirect into a sidekick and thrust your foot forward.

Mae Ashi Geri(Front Foot Kick)

The Mae Ashi Geri is a front kick delivered with your front foot. It has the same mechanics of the back foot front kick, where your knee lifts up and you snap your foot forward.

Tobi Geri(Jumping Kick) 

A Tobi Geri is what  they call in Karate a jumping kick. You can actually use any of the Karate kicks and it would be their names mixed with Tobi Geri. The jump gives your kick more force and power.

Ura Mawashi Gari(Hook Kick) 

One of the most known of the Karate kicks is the Ura Mawashi or hook kick. A hook kick is an attack disguised as a sidekick/roundhouse, but redirects into a hook at the last minute.

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When you throw an Ura Mawashi Gari, you’re initially throwing your foot at the side of your opponent’s head. Then at the last second, you hook your foot towards their head and hit with your heel.

Ura Mawashi Gari

Ushiro Mawashi Geri(Spinning Back Kick) 

A Mawashi Geri or spinning back kick is arguably the strongest of all of the Karate kicks. The spin/turn creates more force than with the traditional back kick.

This kick starts with you turning(not stepping) with your lead foot and your body turning afterwards. Also be sure to not overturn and always look at your target before starting your kick.

When you turn through, have your knee up and kick chambered in a diagonal position. For the kicking phase of the technique, you release the strike the same as a traditional hook kick.

Ushiro Yoko Geri(Back Sidekick/Turn Sidekick)

A Ushiro Yoko Geri is a variation of the back or turn side. It has the same mechanics as the traditional Ushiro Geri.

Ushiro Mawashi Hiza Geri(Back Roundhouse Knee Kick)

The Ushiro Mawashi Hiza Geri has the same mechanics as the Ushiro Mawashi, but ends with a Hiza or knee strike.

Yoko Kekomi Geri(Side Thrust Kick) 

A Yoko Kekomi Geri is a thrusting sidekick thrown with the back leg. Your kick starts off as a front kick, and switches midway through to a side thrust kick.

Yoko Geri Keage(Side Snap Kick) 

A Yoko Geri Keage is a snapping 

version of the sidekick that is used within different forms of Karate. This kick begins with you lifting your foot up and actually facing it away from your opponent. You then quickly snap your foot towards your opponent like with a traditional sidekick.

Kaiten Geri(Rolling Kick)

The Kaiten Geri is the rolling kick that you may have seen in various kickboxing knockout compilations. It’s a variation of a spin kick, but instead, you roll forward to create momentum for a KO strike.

Kakato Oshi Geri(Axe/Ax Kick)

Another one of the trademark Karate kicks is the Kakato Oshi Geri or axe kick. This kick starts with keeping your leg straight and kicking it straight up into the air. You then drive your heel down on top of your opponent either targeting the head or shoulder blades.