Dynamics of the martial arts high front kick

Henrik Sørensen, Morten Zacho, Erik B. Simonsen, Poul Dyhre-Poulsen, Klaus Klausen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Fast unloaded movements (i.e. striking, throwing and kicking) are typically performed in a proximo-distal sequence, where initially high proximal segments accelerate while distal segments lag behind, after which proximal segments decelerate while distal segments accelerate. The aims of this study were to examine whether proximal segment deceleration is performed actively by antagonist muscles or is a passive consequence of distal segment movement, and whether distal segment acceleration is enhanced by proximal segment deceleration. Seventeen skilled taekwon-do practitioners were filmed using a high-speed camera while performing a high front kick. During kicking, EMG recordings were obtained from five major lower extremity muscles. Based on the kinematic data, inverse dynamics computations were performed yielding muscle moments and motion-dependent moments. The results indicated that thigh deceleration was caused by motion-dependent moments arising from lower leg motion and not by active deceleration. This was supported by the EMG recordings. Lower leg acceleration was caused partly by a knee extensor muscle moment and partly by a motion-dependent moment arising from thigh angular velocity. Thus, lower leg acceleration was not enhanced by thigh deceleration. On the contrary, thigh deceleration, although not desirable, is unavoidable because of lower leg acceleration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)483-495
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Deceleration
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint/physiology
  • Leg/physiology
  • Male
  • Martial Arts/physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal/physiology
  • Thigh/physiology


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