Offensive Back Kick
One of the reasons we cannot spar or play in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is because we train using very dangerous, street-effective combative methods, techniques, and tactics. One such method is our Offensive Back Kick.
Offensive Back Kick Demo
We use the Offensive Back-Kick  to destroy our opponent's ability to fight — what we call, his  "ability to wage war." We direct the kick to our opponent's knees. It bears repeating, this kick IS a back-kick and not a side kick. For those who might not know, the difference between a back-kick and a "traditional" side-kick is largely the knee orientation of the kicker. In the back-kick, the knee of the kicking leg is usually lower (or as low as) the kicker's kicking foot. Beyond "knee orientation," the position of the kicker's buttocks is also different. With the back-kick, the kicker's buttocks is directed more toward the opponent. The buttocks' position is precisely why it is called a back-kick. In this Back-kick figure, you can see that the kicker's knee, shin, and foot are all on the same level. And, while the stick figure may not make it quite as clear, its buttocks are directed more toward the opponent. Now for the "traditional" side-kick.

The traditional Side-kick is just the opposite, and it does not matter whether the kick is practiced in Kungfu, Karate, or Taekwondo, the basic form remains the same. When chambered, the kicker's knee is higher than his foot, and unless the kick goes higher than the hip, the knee remains higher than the foot. Add to that the fact that the side of the kicker's hip is directed toward the opponent and you can understand why it is called a side-kick.1 (Because we practice our "Offensive Back-Kick" as a direct attack on our opponent's near knee, both of these figures are shown as if they were striking the same target.)

So, how does one train and practice such a dangerous self-defense fighting method? Believe it or not, one can actually practice this with a partner, as well as with a heavy, floor-standing bag. Let's look first at Training Partner Practice.

Training Partner Practice
Training partner practice actively involves both players. By that we mean both are practicing skills they can use — one works on his kick while the other works on his defense. In figure 1a, both players assume a defensive posture having their hands open at chin-height, held between themselves in what we call our Bladed Ready, "Hey pal. What'd I do?" position. In the street, such questions are smart for a couple of reasons: First, because they often cause individuals to pause as they consider your words. Second, witnesses actually hear a plea for peace, reconciliation or resolution. That can always help the defender should such an incident go to court.2 That said, the defender remains well positioned, being ever-so-slightly on the ball of his rear foot with a slight lean forward (head, hip, and heel aligned at a five to ten degree angle toward his opponent) to immediately take his defense to his opponent should the situation demand it.
Offensive Back Kick Training with Partner

In practice with a partner, Player-A (on the left) fires a controlled back kick to Player-B's near right leg (figure 1b). In training, the target is his near right leg because we regularly train in our dominant, right lead, Strong-side Forward position. Also, with both players in a right lead, back-n ' forth training is more efficient because little time is spent switching leads. In the street, the assailant's near leg will very likely be his left; regardless, left or right makes absolutely no difference in this defense.

The trick here is for Player-A to pick up his lead foot and fire it knowing full well that gravity will pull him down (read forward ). Believe me, because there is no chamber or shuffle to shift weight, no one ever sees that kick coming. By the time anyone does, they have already felt it. Smiley face

Simultaneous to Player-A's kick, Player-B, expecting the kick, retracts his near right leg (figure 1b) in a manner that looks like he is attempting to kick his own butt with his right foot. Obviously, Player-A must still control his kick to his partner's leg as best he can, but again, his partner must also be fully prepared to bend his knee. With that preparation, even if Player-A hits his partner's knee a little too hard, it will only serve to thrust his partner into him even faster, which is actually, Player-B's defense (figure 1c). Both learn from this training method making it a very effective way to train.

Bag Training Method

Offensive Back Kick Training with Standing Bag
Since Training Partner Practice is controlled, another method for training this kick is necessary — one that allows the student to practice the needed drive and impact potential of this kick. To accomplish that, we fire it with total commitment to a standing heavy bag (figures 2a and 2b). Performed correctly, and the student can actually hold his figure 2b position, evaluating it with momentary stability, and realistic penetration. All of this training brings us to the actual application of this technique.

Actual Application

Offensive Back Kick Training with Standing Bag
In this scenario one faces a boxer, in his traditional left lead with his fists up and ready to fight (figure 3a). Assuming our "Hey pal. What'd I do?"  plea did not work, figure 3b shows the back kick being fired at the same near-leg target. The only difference is that in the street, ninety-plus percent of those opponents who face you will be in a natural or "traditional" left lead. As we said before, opponent in left or right lead changes nothing in regard to the effectiveness of this technique. The effect of such a blow to your opponent's lead leg is most likely to be one of the following:

Likely Reaction/Result

Offensive Back Kick Training with Standing Bag
If your opponent is really lucky, then the blow might simply cause his near leg to slip back somewhat. It should still be severely damaged, but not necessarily broken. Regardless, such an action will still tip him forward (figure 4a), very likely planting his face on the deck. We'll accept that bow as we get the heck out of there.

If, on the other hand, you catch him at an instant where his lead foot is firmly planted on the deck, his lead leg will likely be broken. He will still tip forward and definitely go down (figure 4b), but the damage will be far, far, more severe.

We said at the beginning that we cannot spar or play in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) because we train using very dangerous, street-effective combative methods, techniques, and tactics. This is just one of those techniques. Please understand, we are not trying to portray ourselves as the baddest dudes, but the fact remains that all sparring uses rules coupled with controlled blows that are intended to protect your training partner from serious injury. Whether traditional or sport-karate tournament, or MMA opponent — they must protect the participants (which is precisely why they have rules). This Offensive Back-Kick is just one of the many things that necessarily rule out sparring for us. We train for self-defense; not sport. Our emphasis, therefore, remains on the practical.

Three Bullets
Repeatedly taught in our classes is the fact that the only difference between the striking position or posture used when practicing our crossover back-kick (striking upward on the hanging heavy bag) and the posture used when practicing the offensive back-kick (striking at knee height) is the elevation of the kicker's foot. The basic form for both kicks, what one may call the body's position or posture, is really identical.

Such a principle has been taught in our school for some time, but only recently have we had the needed photographs to provide the required perspective for empirical comparison: One showing the crossover back-kick striking a hanging heavy bag,3 and another showing the offensive back-kick striking a heavy bag standing on the floor. Using those photos, the following composition was made possible.

In the illustrations below, to provide the needed context, you will see images showing the actual kicks striking their bags in the smaller photos near the bottom. Immediately above those context photos are the larger images of the kicker (taken directly from the original photographs). The kicker images are aligned (the crossover back image being simply rotated to a comparable, horizontal position) and placed side-by-side allowing one to actually compare the positions and postures, recognizing their obvious symmetry. Absolutely amazing. (It is always good to see that concepts taught are, in fact, true and verifiable.)

If  your browser permits Javascripts,  simply drag your mouse
over the image below to see a fuller comparison of both kicks.
What you will see is the striking angle shown on the left image
instantly change from  Actual  Vertical  Striking  Angle
to  Striking Angle Lowered For Comparison.

Back-kick Position Symmetry (Comparing Offensive and Crossover Back-kick positions)

  1. More than a few have contended that despite the back-kick's power advantage they still prefer the side-kick over the back-kick because they feel the side-kick does not expose their backs to their opponents. They are correct in that assessment. That said, if the truth be known, great achievement always involves greater risk. When it comes to a fight then, everyone must choose on which side of that line they will stand — or fall. [Return to reference point]
  2. While the "Hey pal. What'd I do?" may sound like deception, for myself, it is definitely not intended to be so. In his famous work, The Art of War, Sun Tzu says, "The greatest excellence is to defeat the enemy without ever having to fight him" [emphasis added]. So, any time I can avoid a fight, I am always much, much better off and much safer than I would be if I got into one. Get into any fight and you can be injured, even if you win. What if you are shot! And, even if you win but receive a broken tooth, you did not really win — your dentist did. Again, our line, "Hey pal. What'd I do?" is really not intended to deceive. Our training is NOT for fighting — it is totally for self-protection. If we have to fight, we will, but fighting is our LAST option. [Return to reference point]
  3. Please understand that while the photograph of the crossover back kick shows the kicker striking high on the bag, the target is not intended to be an opponent's head. Such a kick may actually go for an assailant's groin. With the back-kick's ability to easily strike legs, groin, abdomen, or even the chest, the kick simply continues to drive up as far as needed, effectively penetrating through the target. Again, the height of the kicker's foot in no way represents a blow to an opponent's head (that would be like using a 155mm howitzer to shoot an individual) — rather, it indicates depth of penetration. [Return to reference point]
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Our  emphasis  is  on  the  practical.
©Copyright Bob Orlando, 2011-2016
All rights reserved.
Last update:  Aug. 6, 2016
by Bob Orlando
Web Site of Bob Orlando: Instructor in Kuntao-Silat (Chinese kuntao and Dutch-Indonesian pukulan pentjak silat), author of two popular martial art books: "Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals" and "Martial Arts America: A Western Approach to Eastern Arts"; and producer of four martial art videos: Fighting Arts of Indonesia, Reflex Action, Fighting Footwork of Kuntao and Silat, Fighting Forms of Kuntao-Silat. Offering practical martial arts instruction to adults living in and throughout the Denver metropolitan area including, Lakewood, Littleton, Morrison, and Golden Colorado.