One of the difference between Tang Soo Do and other martial arts is that we employ the use of high kicks. Our art routinely practices and leverages kicks to the neck, head, and shoulders. We also kick to the groin, knee, ankles, and thighs. We love to kick.
You might wonder if there were a blog dedicated to Karate Kicks (shameful plug).
There is nothing quite as elegant as a single round house kick to the side of the head which drops an attacker with one clean strike. Within the realm of self defense this strong, quick, precise action is considered pretty.
Another high kick that is seldom seen is the Overhead Ax kick, or as we call it, the Inside/Outside Ax Kick. In short, your leg is brought up above your head, and then pulled downward with thrust and force to strike with the heel of the foot.
The Ax kick uses the muscles at the back of the leg, the glutes, gravity, and inertia to create a strike with impressive force.
Typically the Inside/Outside Ax kick is used to strike downward on a collarbone (which will snap it like a twig) or a forearm, or even a knee (read here for a personal account).
The downside of the Ax kick is it does take a while to execute, and it’s hard to disguise. Once you start it, you’re pretty much committed to doing it - always a dangerous situation. But done correctly, it can be a devastating blow.
Here is a video snippet from the movie, “The Next Karate Kid” starring Hilary Swank. In this climactic scene, she confronts the story villain and employs an Ax kick. If this had been a real fight, and she struck the back of the neck,or even the spine - the fight would have been over.
For my students, note how Hilary wraps her hand around her leg as it reaches its highest point. She then pulls it back just a little bit more to create tension (like a spring) that then causes the downward motion to accelerate faster. This is what you should be reaching for.