Side Kick – Technique Of The Week

The side kick is a kicking technique found in several types of martial arts such as karate, sanda, taekwondo and occasionally in MMA. The side kick is one of the hardest kicks to counter.

“…I’m using my longest weapon, my side kick against the nearest target, your kneecap. This can be compared to your left jab in boxing, except it’s much more damaging.” – Bruce Lee

side kick kick boxing

What is a Side Kick?

A side kick is a thrusting kick, generally thrown from a bladed position (feet pointed to a 90 degree angle) with the lead leg targeting the knee, body, or head of your opponent.

The stationary execution is done by lifting your lead knee towards your chest while pointing the bottom of your foot towards the target. Then extending the leg while rotating your hips and pivoting off the ball of your standing foot (toes pointing away) and landing the kick with the heel. This stationary execution is generally a defensive kick, used when your opponent advances towards your position. Can be used as offensive but usually as a follow up.

Sliding Side Kick

(Sage Northcutt performing a sliding side kick in a MMA match versus Rocky Long)

The sliding side kick is a fast offensive side kick that can cover a lot of distance. The key difference of this kick is using the supporting leg to propel your body forward after you kicking leg leaves the ground. Your supporting leg should follow by sliding across the ground after initiating the momentum of the kick. Thus, giving your kicking leg a head start towards the target while your supporting leg covers the distance.


  • Fast
  • Covers distance
  • Effective for pressuring
  • Efficient as a Head Kick


  • minor damage towards the body

Stepping Side Kick / Crossover Side Kick

(Bruce Lee performing a crossover kick against Chuck Norris in the movie Return Of The Dragon)

The stepping or crossover side kick emphasizes on power. The lead leg performs both the kick and the initial momentum while the supporting leg moves into a closer position before the kicking leg leaves the ground.


  • Power
  • Covers distance
  • Effective for damaging the body


  • Slowest side kick
  • Telegraphic
  • requires more timing

Some Key Points & Other Variations to Consider When Throwing a Side Kick

  • Although the kicking knee rises 1st and then extends towards the target 2nd, the kicking foot should travel in a straightest line possible when side kicking the body or head. Directly from the floor and into the target.
  • For side kicking the knee with more power, raise your foot higher than the target and stomp downwards.
  • Extend your side kick reach by bending your supporting leg when attacking the knee. Angling your leg more horizontally.

Basic Side Kick Set ups

  • back fist or Jab
  • round house kick
  • Straight Right
  • Switch Kick Fake

Basic Follow ups After a Side Kick

  • another side kick
  • back kick
  • spinning back fist

How to Side Kick Video

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