Spinning Hook Kick or Wheel Kick Comprehensive Guide

Fighters and spectators are thrilled when a Spinning Hook Kick connects. As majestic as it looks, the Spinning Hook Kick also referred to as Wheel Kick, Reverse Turning kick, Spinning Whip Kick or a Reverse Hook Kick, is one of the most devastating kicks in martial arts. Not only does it commercially sell but the impact it leaves on the opponent is unmatched.

No fighter wants to be on the receiving end of a spinning hook kick. If you follow mainstream MMA, you must have witnessed Edson Barboza knockout Terry Etim with a venomous spinning hook kick. The impact you see in the video is exactly what this kick can produce in a combat. 

Spinning Hook Kick: A millennial phenomenon

A Spinning Hook Kick is a heavy impact kick and is amongst the oldest spinning kicks. However, just two decades ago, spinning kicks as a whole were considered too risky especially in a bout which involved experienced fighters. Nonetheless, with the advancement in footwork and contemporary strategies, spinning kicks especially the spinning hook kick has gone on to become the most lethal weapon in a martial artists’ arsenal. The growing craze of the spinning hook kick can be fairly attributed to the upright fighting stance along with the enhancement of intricate footwork. Traditionally, fighters used to prefer a low stance in order to generate greater power however. It’s not the same with spinning hook kick. 

What makes Spinning Hook Kick terrifying?

Spinning hook kick is the most devastating high kick in your arsenal. It is quite similar to its cousins, spinning heel and spinning crescent kicks, which are equally popular. Spinning hook kick was an upgrade to the spinning heel kick. A spinning hook kick is much faster and is a lot more unpredictable than the heel kick.

It begins with a normal fighting stance followed by a pivot and chambering of legs. A fighter then proceeds to swing a leg towards the target using a knee as a hook to whip through the opponent’s head. This helps the kick to generate tremendous power and leave a heavy impact on an opponent.

Lastly, Spinning Hook Kick is ideal for targeting the head.  Due to leg being chambered high, Spinning Hook Kick is quite effective when attacking the head, something unachievable with a heel kick. 

How to Spin Hook Kick?

Spinning Hook Kick does take time to master. However, once learnt, it can help knockout an opponent even if you connect on their guard let alone their face. The spinning hook kick can be thrown from multiple stances; however, the body position differs in each stance. You can either use the hook kick for an attacking purpose or as a defensive counter attack maneuver. Regardless of your choice, here are general steps which you must follow while performing a hook kick:

Important Note: When wanting to land a spinning hook kick, it’s crucial to point your foot before the impact. Herein, we want to protect our Achilles tendon by compressing it. An ankle joint should be braced tightly by your muscles. Moreover, when lending a spinning hook kick, you want to connect with the bottom or the edge of your heel. 

  1. An active stance: Almost all the high impact kicks require you to take the fighting stance. And spinning kick with its hip movements, requires you to be ready in your stance. Your fighting stance along with your non-kicking leg will determine the height of your kick. That’s because you lean on your non-kicking leg to add height to kick. However, you don’t want to lean too much as it will work against the force and wouldn’t carry the same impact.
  2. Back turn: A back turn is usually the first stance you take after your fighting stance. Herein, you turn you back against your opponent and measure the distance with your peripheral vision. As mentioned earlier, you want to be slightly closer to your opponent before the impact. Furthermore, you want to lean against your target to generate height. The back turn begins with pointing your heels towards your opponent followed by rotating and coiling your hips (including upper body) around. This is the moment where you set your target and have a glance at your opponent through a peripheral sight.
  3. Folding your kicking leg: Similar to the back kick, you would require to fold your leg. Yet again, a chamber position before you land the kick.
  4. Pivoting: It’s the hips which do the magic in high impact kicks. Between folding your kicking leg and landing the kick lies the most important part – Pivoting. Through pivoting, you move your hips and your resting foot as quick as you can to generate power and velocity. Pivoting also helps in adjusting the distance thereby providing you an extra edge before the impact.
  5. Kicking in an angle: Unlike back kick, where you hit straight, the spinning hook kick requires you to kick in an angle. Start by extending your kicking leg outward. The position is similar to that of a sidekick but instead of kicking straight, you’re extending your leg and aligning it with your opponent’s shoulder.
  6. Hooking your opponent: The most crucial part in a spinning hook kick requires you to rechamber your leg before you hook your opponent. Remember not to extend your leg too far or bring in too close to your opponent. If you extend it too far, your kick won’t have the power and if you keep it too close, you’ll be unable to generate velocity in your strike.
  7. Bring it to normal position: Once you have landed the kick i.e. hooked your opponent, bring your kicking leg back to its natural stance. This should happen quickly, in case if you didn’t connect properly, you don’t want to give time and space to your opponent to produce a counter. Thus, be quick with this final step. 

Importance of side stance in spinning hook kick

A spinning hook kick is most effective when delivered from a side stance. Following are different stances you’re usually in before you deliver a spinning hook kick: 

The stance as seen in fig. A is a neutral fighting stance. When you’re in neutral side stance, you need switch to an actual side stance before you throw the spinning hook kick. There are several ways to switch to the side stance: Stepping over, using your back foot to align it with your front foot to achieve side stance. However, the best version is to roll the non-kicking leg with the heels pointing towards your opponent. You can do so by lifting the toe and turning to the other side before using your kicking leg to deliver the blow.

When to use a spinning hook kick?

Spinning hook kick is a clever kick and its perfect application can help you score crucial points or even knockouts in some cases. However, the knowledge about how and when to use a spinning hook kick is crucial. There are several key indicators which you must pay attention to before you do a spinning hook kick on your opponent: 

When your opponent is committed: Most advanced fighters, don’t easily commit. They might fool you and put you on a back foot. Watching your back leg and knowing that you’re vying to land a spinning hook kick, your opponent can easily counter with a side kick or a turning kick. Furthermore, they might stop you in between. Thus, you must invite kicks to your body and then parry them to create an opening. When in line with your opponent, it won’t be easy for you to land a spinning hook kick, thus let your opponent commit first. Move sideways and parry his kick before you land a spinning hook kick on him.

When you want create space in a tight space: Changing the lines incites an attack. By side stepping or jumping to the other side, you attract your opponent. When you switch lines, your opponent would naturally be inclined to attack your ribs. That’s a natural instinct as he would sense an opening. However, it’s you who are luring him into the attack so you can create space and land your own kick.

Intention to knock out: It’s no surprise that spinning hook kick is a great way to bamboozle your opponent. Especially, when you’re looking to knock him/her out. When you’re at a perfect distance, commit yourself and make sure you land the perfect kick and follow through. The key to knocking out your opponent with a spinning hook kick lies in working with the momentum and your placement. If you kick too early, you’ll misplace it, if you quick too late, your opponent will cover up the distance. Thus, find the perfect balance and then land your kick with the intention of knocking your opponent out. 

Against a chambering kick: Don’t leave hints for a spinning hook kick. It should surprise your opponent. When they come at you with side kick, you must baffle them with your movement. Take your time, as your opponent leans in, switch and counter with a spinning hook kick. If you’re in taekwondo, a kick to the head will yield to 3 points or if you’re in a combat event, you can actually knock your opponent off with your heel.

Following up after a roundhouse kick: Practitioners often miss out on an opportunity to land a roundhouse kick. Here’s where a spinning hook kick comes in handy. If you miss out on a roundhouse kick, your opponent might quickly capitalize by coming up with a roundhouse kick of his own. Keep an eye on their back leg and as soon as they’re about to pull the trigger, you catch them with a spinning hook kick of your own. Under this circumstance, a spinning hook kick doesn’t just help defend but will help score valuable points.

Factoring a Spinning Hook Kick?

Delivering Spinning Hook Kick requires to be completely committed since it requires you to follow through. When to deliver a spinning hook kick largely depends upon three factors:

  • Do you have enough energy to land a blow?
  • Are you at the right distance from your opponent?
  • Are you aiming for the knockout?

These are the three common questions before you deliver a spinning hook kick.

Energy: First, since the movement is extensive it requires substantial amount of energy. Especially when your opponent is a little low on energy, you can take him/her by surprise with this kick.

Distance: Second, being at the right distance from your opponent is quintessential, as either short distance or too long a distance can hurt your chances of landing a spinning hook kick.

Intention: Third, since you’re accumulating the energy and would like to go for the spinning hook kick, make sure it’s worth it. After the initial rounds, the competitors require to pull out something special from their arsenal and spinning hook kick is certainly one of them. Deliver a Spinning Hook Kick to knock your opponent out. 

What happens if you miss the spinning hook kick?

To deliver an accurate spinning hook kick, you need to measure your opponent. Don’t make it obvious but at the same time, don’t be too slow. With your peripheral vision, keep an eye on your opponent and land it with as much power as you can. Practitioner often misjudge the distance. It’s quintessential to get the distance right. If you fail to close the distance before landing the kick, one of three things might happen:

  1. You might miss the target: The least advantageous yet a scary drawback would be missing out on your target. Consequently, you won’t be able to muster enough courage to land a second spinning hook kick if you miss your first one. It’s more about confidence and belief than about technique because spinning hook kick if misjudged can leave a wide opening for your opponent.
  2. You might get caught in the middle: If you end up being too close to your opponent, you won’t have enough room to hook your opponent. Unlike back kick where you can operate in less space, spinning hook kick requires you to raise your leg and then whip. Thus, if the distance is too close, the impact will be slower even if you somehow manage to land the kick. It won’t be as you must have intended. Even worse, if misjudged, your opponent can grab hold of your leg or perhaps land a punch.
  3. You might leave room for counter: The most dangerous aspect of misjudging your spinning hook kick, lies in leaving room open for your opponent to counter. If you kick from a neutral distance wherein both you and your opponent can’t reach each other, the chances of failure are high. You’ll leave yourself susceptible to easy counter attack or perhaps a takedown to say the least.

Remember to move a half step closer to your opponent than you generally are. The goal here is to not leave any space for your opponent to counter. Spinning kick is extremely good as a counter kick, however, you need to have sharp reflexes to read your opponent before you land one.

Common Mistakes to avoid while doing a spinning hook kick

  1. Misjudgment of the Kick: Many people think that spinning hook kick requires a complete 360-degree movement, however that’s not the case. As mentioned earlier, you spin only after you’ve raised your leg. The movement is similar to the back kick, except you hook your leg instead of kicking straight. It’s more of three linear lines than a complete circle. Thus, this makes it clear that there’s not a 360-degree movement as most of people falsely believe.
  2. Lack of pivoting: The importance of pivoting is often undermined. Without a quick hip movement in-sync with pivoting, you won’t be able to generate power or velocity.  Thus, emphasize on pivoting and its movement as it will most likely help generate the impact you’re looking for.
  3. Misplaced Kicking Foot: Majority of the practitioners commit the mistake of showing their instep instead of their sole. You must not do that. Herein, you’re required to quickly bring your foot as high as your knee. Your sole should be pointing away from your opponent, preferably at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Not Maintaining your Upper Body Position: While performing a spinning hook kick, you must maintain your upper body position. Your upper body must be in side stance while you’re glancing at your opponent. Your upper body should not lean too backwards or too forward in this case.
  5. Not following through the kick: Similar to the side kick, the spinning hook kick requires you to follow through the kick. Unlike roundhouse kick, where you bring your kicking leg to its natural position as soon as you land it, spinning hook kick requires you to follow through your opponent’s head. Following your kick requires you to send your knees beyond your side stance. You’ll watch your knee move towards the opposite direction before you go back to your neutral stance.

Drills to improve your spinning hook kick​

Hip Flexibility Drills: To deliver a devastating spinning hook kick, you need your hip flexibility to be at its best. Since, the kicking involves elevation and its effectiveness largely depending upon it, you need your hips flexible to begin with. The flexible you are, the better elevation you’ll achieve with your kicks. To achieve flexible hips, you can start with drills such as splits using your knees. Figure four while grabbing your shin, deep horse stance to name a few.

Strengthening your hips: Apart from flexibility, strength is the most vital ingredient in your spinning hook kick. The flexibility drills mentioned above will help strengthen your hips and prepare them for this high-impact kick. Opening of hips is what strengthens it. If you follow the drills in the above guide by Alex Wong, it will help you tremendously in getting ready for the spinning hook kick.

Practicing normal hook kicks: Before you try to attempt the spinning hook kick, you might want to master the normal hook kick. Get the basics right first and then move on to the advanced version i.e. the Spinning version. If you don’t practice hook kicks prior and jump directly to spinning hook kick, you might end up hurting yourself. While practicing a normal hook kick, emphasize on extending your leg out as far as you can. DO NOT CIRCLE IT. Extend your leg and then hook it. Once, you master the basics, spinning hook kick wouldn’t be much of a big deal for you to master.

Improve your balance: Since the spinning hook kick requires you to follow through, there’s a great possibility that you might lose your balance. To avoid this, try taking support of the wall, chair or any object which can help develop balance while kicking. Learn to hold it up in a chamber for a decent amount of time, try extending it as far as you can and follow through. The more you practice, the better you’ll become at maintaining the composure.

Improve your body posture: Keep in mind that you shouldn’t lean back sideways when throwing a spinning hook kick. Initially, you’ll face a lot of trouble in while trying to kick along with maintaining the posture. Thus, don’t get disheartened by it. Keep practicing.

Countering spinning hook kicks

Unlike a back kick which is completely linear, the spinning hook kick has a curvy motion. The spinning hook kick spins rather than shoot.

Keep a tab on the side stance: As soon as your opponent gets in a side stance, you must identify what’s coming next. The distance and your opponent’s footwork play a vital role in this part. Before you can counter, you need to read your opponent’s intention. A challenge here is that you cannot really trust whether it’s a back kick or a spinning hook kick that’s coming your way? Thus, rely on your instincts and keep a tab on the distance.

Closing the distance: The best way to counter a spinning hook kick is by closing the distance as soon as you smell a kick coming your way. Consequently, you’ll be able to push your opponent into a difficult spot and you can counter with either a combination of punches or kicks, while he/she is trying to recover.

Defensive Push Kick: While the other two counters above are defensive in nature, this one’s an offensive counter attack. Herein, you attack your opponent when they try to land a spinning hook kick. This will help you push your opponent off balance and can lead to the same conclusions as closing the distance.

Low Roundhouse kick: A low roundhouse kick to the stomach if connected can derail your opponent. It has an edge over spinning hook kick because of the time frame. Before your opponent can get into the stance and deliver his kick, you can damage his ribs with a vicious roundhouse kick.

Variations of Spinning Hook Kick

Step-in Spinning Hook Kick: As the name suggests, a step-in spinning hook kick enables you to kick while stepping within the reaching distance of your opponent. This variation is quite effective when you want to catch your opponent by surprise as he/she doesn’t predict due to the distance. A step-in spinning hook kick helps to break this barrier of distance and helps catch your opponent off-guard.

Jumping Spinning Hook Kick: Jumping spinning hook kick is an advance variation which provides better elevation due to the jump. If your opponent is slightly taller and your reach through your kicking leg is not enough, a jumping spinning hook kick can go a long way in delivering a KO blow. The stance is similar to the spinning hook kick, except when you decide to hook, you jump in the air to get better elevation.

360-Degree Spinning Hook Kick: A 360-degree spinning hook kick looks sizzling but it’s the most advanced spinning hook kick. Herein, you don’t just kick in a particular direction, your turn a complete circle with your body before the impact. It’s a perfect blend of seamless hip movement and pivoting before you put your opponent to bed.

Difference between a Spinning Hook Kick and a Back Kick

Differencing these two kicks is not much of a task. However, if you’re just starting out, from a certain angle, you won’t be able to tell the difference in quick motion. Having that said, the difference is quite huge. Spinning Hook Kick involves a circular movement whereas back kick involves your feet in a linear motion. Spinning Hook Kick cannot be landed in a small space but back kick can be landed. Spinning Hook Kick is usually targeted to the head whereas back kick targets the ribs. The hip movement in spinning hook kick is more than in a back kick. Furthermore, the advance the version of the spinning hook kick, the more the movement of hips and pivoting.

Names of spinning hook kick in different martial arts

As mentioned earlier, a Spinning Hook Kick is known by a wide variety of names such as Wheel Kick, Reverse Turning kick, Spinning Whip Kick or a Reverse Hook Kick.

  1. Karate: Ushiro mawashi geri
  2. Taekwondo: Dwi Huryeo Chagi
  3. Muay Thai: Te klap lang
  4. Savate: Revers (Collective term for circular kicks)
  5. Kick boxing: Spinning Hook Kick, Reverse Turning Kick, Reverse Hook Kick or Wheel Kick.


The advent of footwork and movement combined with contemporary style makes the spinning house kick even more versatile. Strategic refinements, unique maneuvers and personal touch have helped variety of MMA fighters and sports personalities to make a name for themselves on the world stage. If you happen to know Edson Barbosa, you probably must have glide past this article in no time. He along with Mickey James (WWE) are well known for executing Spinning Hook Kick.

I hope this article kept you hooked and didn’t leave your head spinning (pun intended). The goal here was to present you with an all-inclusive guide to help improve the overall development and increase your knowledge about the spinning hook kick.

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