Tuesday 17 May 2011


Here are some notes on HOW TO DO THE BASIC SHOTOKAN KARATE MAE-GERI for total beginners. Keep in mind I've quickly written this up for my new karatedo students here in Christchurch in combination with my checking/correcting of their technique in class. Osu, André Bertel.

1. Assume gedan kakiwake-gamae in heisoku-dachi. The fists at used as `hip posture markers' diagonally at your sides (and should therefore remain set in position throughout your kick for self-analysis). Don't assume a free sparring type guard in this drill, but rather use it master the kick in isolation.

2. Raise the kicking legs knee high compressing your knee as tightly to hamstrings as possible. Imagine squeezing a lemon behind you knee. The ankle and toes are locked back towards your tibia anterior/shin as much as possible.

3. Snap the kick out to full extension and back identically to the previous position. The feeling should be that the hiki-ashi (withdrawal/pulling back of the leg/foot) is faster than the extension. Make sure to impact with the josokutei (the ball of the foot) - with the toes tightly pulled back. Keep the supporting leg heel down as much as possible and keep the hips "set". And imagine both of your legs turning into one long leg with energy travelling from the grounded foot right through to, and out of, the impacting foot. As a 'self-monitoring formula' keep the following still throughout your mae-geri: (A) the supporting foot/ankle & heel; (B) the fists/arms; & (C) the head.

4. Without delay rapidly return the kicking foot lightly to the floor into a precise heisoku-dachi.


a. Many people question ""Why kick from a feet together position?" Answer: Simplification of trajectory (the straight line of the kicking leg is easy as the support leg can be easily used to monitor it. Utilize the heel of the kicking foot against the inside of the supporting leg just like `sliding the elbows' in punches). b. Mae-geri in Shotokan is typically a keage/keriage (snap kick literally `rising kick'). Always remember, in the most obvious terms, that the difference between the keage and kekomi (thrust kick) is whether the knee joint leads or follows the kicking limb. c. The concept of a rising kick can be confusing. Whilst the lower leg does rise the technique `goes in'. The impact is therefore extremely penetrating not merely a glancing upward action which is ineffective. d. Practice is completely useless without impact training. e. This most basic form of mae-geri practice (as described in text & photographically in this article) is ISOLATION TRAINING. It therefore remains useful throughout one's training in combination with the other core training methods (namely - 1. stationary mae-geri in zenkutsu-dachi; 2. oi geri - advancing in zenkutsu-dachi with mae-geri in ido-kihon practice by driving the support leg & thrusting the hips forward. This includes also 'transporting' the one's upper bodyweight into the target. 3. Renzokuwaza i.e. - rengeri etc).


Final point: KNOWING HOW TO DO SOMETHING IS NOT MASTERING. Otherwise, once one could swing a golf club they would no longer need to practice. A rule of thumb which I learned visiting and living in Japan over the years was "less than 30 precise repetitions of a basic technique is time wasted." Hopefully this article, along with dojo-training, and some self-practice, will help you to master your mae-geri, and subsequently all of the other keriwaza (kicking techniques).

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2011).

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