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Torakan Karate-Do

Karate Essence ‘Reality Check’ Kakato Otoshi Geri/Axe Kick

Karate Essence

‘Reality Check’

Kakato Otoshi Geri/Axe Kick

Kakato Otoshi Geri is an underrated and underused technique but is in evidence in a lot of martial arts and, if performed correctly, can be used to devastating effect.

Table of Contents

  •          Fighting and/or Self-defence Technique

  •           Kyokushin Kakato Otoshi Geri/Axe Kick

  •          Muay Thai Axe Kick

  •          Tae Kwon Do ‘Naeryo Chagi/Axe Kick’

  •          Shotokan Kakato Otoshi Geri/Dropping Axe Kick

  •          Tang Soo Do Chik Ki/Axe Kick

  •          Torakan Eye View

  •          Conclusion


Fighting and/or Self-defence Technique

The Axe Kick, like many other techniques that could be a little difficult, on impact, to perform with complete control, is rarely seen practiced in the dojos of styles and arts that have a noncontact, sports aspect to them. 

Conversely, martial arts that have a full contact style of combat competition in their curriculum feature this effective, very aggressive technique in their training. 

In regard to how this technique fits in the self-defence aspect of the martial arts there are mixed feelings and opinions.  You need to be quite flexible to perform this kick effectively but I would definitely be on the positive side of the debate.


Kyokushin Kakato Otoshi Geri/Axe Kick

Not surprisingly, Kyokushin fighters use the Axe Kick very effectively and to its maximum potential.  One of the most renowned practitioners of the Axe Kick was of course the legendary Swiss Kyokushin fighter and K1 World Champion, Andy Hug, R.I.P. 

The Kyokushin practitioners definitely use this technique as a devastating combat tool; and I have no doubt that they can also use it to good effect in a self-defence situation.  The following link is to an excellent short, no nonsense tutorial on the Kyokushin Kakato Geri/ Axe Kick by, young charismatic Kyokushin fighter and Kickboxer, Roland Gloekler.  Also, the following link will take you to some Kyokushin Kakato Geri/Axe Kicks in action.


Muay Thai Axe Kick  

I have a particular liking for Muay Thai techniques.  This art has a relaxed way about it that in no way diminishes the power of its techniques; and the Axe Kick is no exception.  The Axe Kick was a signature kick of mine a long time before I had any real knowledge of Muay Thai, and I must admit to not really seeing much of the Axe Kick during my Muay Thai training.


You hardly ever see this destructive weapon used in the Muay Thai boxing ring and, when it is in evidence, it is usually assumed that the practitioner has brought it from another art, like Kyokushin or Taekwondo.  However, the Axe Kick was a weapon that was independently developed in Muay Boran, Muay Thai’s ancient battlefield predecessor.  The following link will take you to a couple of excellent short Muay Thai Axe Kick tutorials.


Tae Kwon Do ‘Naeryo Chagi/Axe Kick’

I have mentioned in previous articles that, generally speaking, most Tae Kwon Do dojang seem to focus on the noncontact or touch contact style of combat sport; therefore, techniques that are considered dangerous are not used in connection with the sport and, consequently, not given a lot of time and effort to train and perfect.  However, not all the dojang are included in this and even those who have their main focus in the sport will spend time on ‘Axe Kicking’ techniques.  The following link will take you to an excellent short Tae Kwon Do Axe Kick/Naeryo Chagi tutorial.


Shotokan Kakato Otoshi Geri/Dropping Axe Kick

The internet is full of the various arts and styles offering tutorials for most of their techniques, with a few exceptions.  I point out, what I consider to be, the best or easiest to follow tutorials on each technique that I submit to the monthly ‘Reality Check’.  I also let you know when a tutorial for a particular technique is difficult to find or is not available at all; and I give you the reason why, in my opinion, that might be the case.  Shotokan’s Kakato Otoshi Geri seems to be just such a technique.

We know that High or flashy kicks were not part of the self-defence system that began in Okinawa and that we now know as Karate.  We also know that the point scoring, noncontact, sport sparring system, that is a prevalent aspect of many styles and arts, avoids using techniques that prove to be a little dangerous, in terms of complete control in that noncontact environment.  Consequently, strikes like Empi Uchi, Hiza Geri and Kakato Otoshi Geri are affectively dropped from the official scoring criteria.  And so it is that, although Kakato Otoshi Geri is on the official list of Shotokan techniques in both the JKA and SKI, it is rarely practiced.  After extensive searches, I could find only one, brief, tutorial on offer in regard to the Shotokan Kakato Otoshi Geri/Dropping Axe Kick.


Tang Soo Do Chik Ki/Axe Kick

Very much like Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do was formed in the 1940s from a mixture of the ancient Korean martial arts (one of which being Taekkyeon), also with elements of Shotokan and Kung Fu.


I would say that the main difference between Korean and Japanese martial arts is a larger percentage of striking with the feet and legs in the Korean styles.  One of Tang Soo Do’s kicks is the Chik Ki otherwise known as the Axe Kick.  Actually, several variations of the Axe Kick can be found in the Tang Soo Do curriculum. 

One of Tang Soo Do’s better known practitioners, at least in the West, is of course the legendary ‘Chuck Norris’.  I don’t believe Chuck Norris needs any introduction to the martial arts community; however, briefly, he was the World Middleweight Champion for six years, and he got his break in movies when Bruce Lee invited him to take a lead role in his movie, ‘The Way of the Dragon’.  Chuck went on to become one of the biggest names ever in action movies. 

The following link is to a Tang Soo Do Chik Ki /Axe Kick tutorial.


Torakan Eye View

From a personal perspective, I learned the technique fairly early in my Karate career and – in terms of the explosive power of the technique – I honed it by practising it in a repetitive and practical manner.  Tameshiwari (breaking stuff) training is not generally thought of as a Shotokan method of training; and Kakato Otoshi Geri is not generally thought of as a technique utilised very much in Shotokan.  However, that was the method and the kick that I chose to practice night after night, periodically throughout a 12 hour night shift, over a four month period, while stacking tiles in the yard of a roofing tile factory near Glasgow in Scotland. 


In terms of using the technique in the type of tournament Karate I was mostly competing in at that time, Ippon and Sanbon Kumite, even back then during the robust 1970s I was inclined to receive warnings for using a potentially dangerous technique.  However, I have used the Axe Kick effectively in a contact form of sport combat. I have also utilised it as a weapon of self-defence, while being outnumbered, in adverse situations working in crowd-control; I found it to be a very effective self-defence technique and deterrent. 

All the still photographs of the Kakato Otoshi Geri/Dropping Axe Kick in this article were taken of me in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the Torakan Dojo, I teach Kakato Otoshi Geri as a self-defence technique in the advanced class.  While now, in my 74th year, I have to admit to favouring several other techniques for my own self-defence.  However, I once excelled in the Axe Kick, and in fact the Jumping Axe Kick/Tobi Kakato Otoshi Geri was a signature technique of mine.  Although Shotokan is not known for its jumping techniques; having, a background in gymnastics and being an athletics high jumper, I tended to take advantage of any jumping techniques.  The following links are a Torakan eye view of the Kakato Otoshi Geri.



As with all the other ‘Reality Check’ techniques so far, each art has a slightly different take on the technique, and some arts have more variations on the theme, but every one of them produces a devastating technique to one degree or another.  There is little doubt that if you are flexible enough the Kakato Geri/Axe Kick, regardless of the form, is a worthwhile part of every martial artist’s arsenal. 


Thank You to the Readers

Thank you for following the ‘Karate Essence’ Reality Check and, again, thank you for the terrific support for the launch of my latest book, ‘A Budōka Odyssey’.  And, once more, please let’s see some reviews?



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