The spinning back kick is, just like the side kick, mainly a long-range weapon that is often used as a deterrent to keep your opponent at a distance. Impact the target with the heel or bottom of your foot. Since the kick requires a spin, it takes a little longer to throw than the side kick and is easily telegraphed. Landing the spinning back kick without getting countered requires quickness and determination. Although the kick utilizes a spin in the upper body, your leg should kick in a straight line on impact. A common mistake with 52 Blocks proponents is throwing the kick wide (looping it) and impacting the target from the side rather than straight on.

The 52 Blocks axe kick is generally thrown high to the head, or as a set-up to take your opponent’s guard down. The axe kick strikes from above, impacting the target with the heel of your foot. Targets for the axe kick are the top of the head, bridge of the nose, collarbones, arms (to take a guard down) and, if thrown low, the front of the thigh.

The outside crescent kick strikes from the side, impacting with the outside part of your foot and shin. Targets for the crescent kick are primarily the head and the arms (to take a guard down). It can also be thrown to the legs.

Exercise 1—Distance and Speed Name some ways to improve balance when throwing a spinning kick. For example, use a point of reference (a visual mark) to help you with balance and target accuracy. Explore the difference between a wide (looping) kick and a tight kick. Why is it more difficult to maintain balance and gain speed when throwing a wide kick? How can you adjust for a spinning back kick that overshoots or undershoots the target? Name some reasons for missing the target with a spinning kick. How can you use your opponent’s movement to increase the power of your spinning kick? Can you get him to step into the kick?

Exercise 2—Power and Strategy Place a focus mitt or kicking shield on the floor as a target for the axe kick. Drop your weight and impact the target with the heel of your foot. Why must you bring your leg as high as possible before dropping the kick? Use the muscles in your leg in addition to gravity. Note how distance for the axe kick can be deceiving: Your greatest reach is straight out from the pivotal point (your hip). Pair up with a partner and practice taking his guard down with the axe kick. How is your opponent likely to react when his guard comes down? How can you take advantage of the situation? Identify potential dangers associated with this technique (if your foot gets caught in the crook of your opponent’s arm, for example), and methods to deal with them.

Exercise 3—Movement and Follow-Ups Practice the outside crescent kick on a focus mitt held by a partner.Learn how to step to set your hips properly for the kick. Explore how to lead with your body and determine why doing so makes the kick more powerful. Experiment with using a step prior to throwing the kick. Identify which foot to step with first, and why. Discuss possible follow-up techniques after you have landed the kick. What is your opponent’s expected reaction?

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