“Bait it like you mean it. Hook it like you dream it.” The hook kick or whip kick is great ammo in any fighter’s arsenal with unpredictability as its USP. Attract your opponent, incite the movements, catch them on the go, leave them stranded.
This kick is one of the most effective kicks in modern martial arts. We previously studied the mechanism of the hook kick through a spinning hook kick guide, where we learned in-depth about a unique iteration of this beautiful kick. However, this time around we will learn about the primary version – Basic Hook Kick a.k.a Whip Kick.
What is a Hook Kick?
Hook kick as the name suggests carries a hooking motion. Unlike other exciting kicks which aim to push the opponent, a hook kick is used to knock their teeth off. Using the heel, the primary goal is to connect with your opponent’s chin using your heel. As per the martial arts, you practice, you can personalize this kick based upon your preference. In Taekwondo, a hook kick is generally used to strike behind the opponent’s guard. Over the years, the kicking technique has been refined and evolved to meet the modern-day standards
Hook kick – A versatile option
You can deliver the hook kick either with your lead leg or your rear leg. The initial movements and motions involved in both these techniques are different. You can throw a hook kick from multiple stances with different body positions. But for better understanding, let us understand how to throw a hook kick from a neutral stance.
Quick visual guide before getting into detailed information
How to do a lead leg Hook kick?
Neutral Stance: As we are learning the kick from the neutral stance, try to maintain a fighting posture while you’re in the neutral stance. This implies you being in a neutral fighting position and not in the side or any other type of stance.
Rotate your front heel inwards: By moving the heel inward, you increase the balance and the overall movement before you kick. Furthermore, this step also helps prevent you from twisting or injuring your knee joints.
180-degree with your support heel: Once you’ve activated the front heel, rotate your supporting heel at a 180-degree angle as you chamber your kicking leg. Followed by that, swing your knees all the way to the other side with your knees at the side of you beyond the center line.
Opening up the hips: As you swing your knees and try to surpass the center line, the back of your kicking hips will now become visible directly pointing towards your target.
Extend your kicking leg: Once you’ve exposed your hips and have them pointing out towards your opponent, extend your kicking leg similar to the side kick posture. However, instead of kicking straight at your target, you’d extend your leg across the center line so you can drive it back.
Use your heel: When you doing a lead leg hook kick, ensure to use your heel when you’re swinging back to your target from across the center line.
Rechambering of legs: Once you’ve kicked through your opponent, rechamber your leg.
Importance of leg extension: Before doing so, remember not to extend your kicking leg too far from your shoulder or the center line since you might lose the power and impact to kick through your target. Similarly, if you extend your leg too close to your opponent, you won’t be able to generate enough velocity.
Put the leg in front or back: Once you’ve delivered the kick, you can either land your kicking leg in the front or back while maintaining the fighting stance.
What is a Rear leg Hook kick?
A rear leg hook kick involves using your trailing leg to hit your opponent instead of your front leg as seen above. Rear hook kick technique is slightly tougher than the front leg hook kick. However, it’s worth it as it helps set up the ultimate – Spinning hook kick. Thus, if you have rear leg hook kick perfected, performing a spinning or a jump spinning hook kick won’t be extremely challenging. The entire process, however, is the same except the start.
How to Rear leg hook kick?
Get into the fighting stance: If you’re in a neutral stance, ensure that you get into the fighting stance. Once you get into the fighting stance, you must release your front foot. Herein, you move your foot towards the outward direction.
Bring your knees up: Once, your front foot is set up, raise your knees to just below the chest level. While doing so, you must ensure that you bring your hip across your body and follow the same pattern.
Follow the same steps as the lead leg:
- 180-degree turn
- Open your hips
- Extend your leg
- Landing on front foot or back
Difference between lead and rear leg hook kick:
While the entire kicking motion is the same, the difference lies in the initial movement. Rear leg hook kick takes more time to be executed as compared to the lead leg hook kick. Furthermore, the rear leg hook kick is telegraphed which makes countering it easy.
However, the rear leg hook kick as shown in a few second clip can help set-up a spinning hook kick i.e. the most popular hook kick. When you’re involved in full-contact sparring, maintain the front stance instead of the side stance. Through maintaining your front stance, it’ll be hard for your opponent to take out your legs. However, with a front stance, you can lift your leg up, block or quickly move your leg backwards.
Common mistakes to avoid when doing a hook kick:
Not pointing your foot before impact: Practitioners often commit this huge mistake of not pointing their foot. You want to compress your Achilles tendons behind your heel and will prevent career-threatening injury upon impact.
Hitting the kick with a flat foot: Most of the practitioners are so engaged in the motion that they forget which part of the foot is to be used. When you do a hook kick, you must land your heel on the desired target i.e. your opponent’s chin, guard and so on. DO NOT HIT THE KICK WITH A FLAT FOOT.
Not understanding the center line: Either you’re a beginner or an advanced fighter, you have to work across the center line meaning, you must move your hips across the center line to a perfect angle. Do not move it too far ahead as you’ll lose the power and do not keep it too close since you won’t be able to generate the velocity.
Leaning too much to the side: Hook kick requires you to use your upper body to generate extremely powerful kick. By leaning towards the opposite direction, you are able to open up your hips to a great measure and land an impact hook kick.
Not using your arm: Your arm will help generate better momentum as you’re about to kick. Though the arms do not necessarily play as important a role as they do in spinning and flying kicks, using them effectively can make your kick much more effective.
This visual guide explains one of the most important tips for the hook kick
Ways to counter hook kick:
Roundhouse kick: As seen above, when you open up your hips and expose it while extending the leg, a roundhouse kick could be used to a great effect. Let’s not spare the details. If your opponent has a hook kick lined up, (keep a note of their movement), you can just wait for them to open and expose their hips just as they’re about to kick. It is during this time that, you should land your roundhouse kick. In the point-based contest, roundhouse kick is quite an effective counter against not just hook but a spinning hook kick as well.
Step back and transition into Front or Spinning Hook kick: To be able to counter with a front kick, you want to take a step back. This will take place with quick movements. Herein, as your opponent tries to land the hook kick, you take a step back and counter with a front kick or a quick spinning hook kick.
Blocking followed by a head kick: You can counter a hook kick by shielding your face and the landing a head kick of your own. This technique is quite useful in countering more of the aggressive kicks. Make sure your hands are iron strong as you’re about to take the heels of your opponent. However, the trick here is to block by targeted your hand block towards your opponent’s Achilles.
Closing in: Similar to what we learned above regarding leg extension. We can use the same technique to prevent an attack from our opponent. By closing in on your opponent, you leave no room for them to deliver the hook kick. They won’t be able to land the kick, let alone use their heels.
Stepping out and creating space for counter: As we learned about the spinning hook above, stepping outside your opponent’s kicking range and inciting a move can help set up a terrific counter.
Understand the hook kick motion for beginners:
For beginners who are just starting out with the hook kick, it’s important to know what do to with your legs. This entails studying the motion, movement, momentum, and execution. For this reason, we’ve added an additional step where we learn about the motion while sitting on the ground.
If you’re struggling with the motion of the hook kick, these steps will definitely help you.
- Move on to your side
- Chamber exactly in the same way
- Move your leg straight through
- Pull your legs in
Understanding this kicking motion without being bothered by the balance or flexibility will help focus on understanding the motion.
This visual guide inlcudes valuables tips
Drills to Improve your hook kick:
Static Exercises for hook kicks:
1.Holding your leg mid-air while sitting in side stance: Hook kick requires chambering and excellent control of the limbs owing to the quick movements. You can improve the flexibility and control by holding your leg mid-air.
While sitting in the side stance with your hand supporting your body. Followed by that, raise your knees in the chambering position with your other leg in the opposite direction. Try to hold it for 20-30 seconds.
2.Piriformis stretch: A great stretch to activate your hips. Piriformis – a deep internal hip rotator muscle is responsible for external hip rotation. By doing this drill you can prevent static nerve irritation.
To do this correctly, while sitting on the floor, you must cross your right leg over your left with your right hand placed on the floor. Followed by that, reach out to your right quad or try moving the left elbow on the right knee.
3.Standing Hamstring Stretch: A standing hamstring stretch is excellent to activate your hips. Your legs need to be fluid for an impactful hook kick. This drill will help work your hamstring thereby improving the overall flexibility.
To perform this exercise, you can use a table with your back leg straight and front leg resting on the table. Try setting the targets higher to achieve better horizontal range. Try touching your foot with your hands as seen in the picture above.
Drills for hook kick:
1.Standing heel kick: Practice simple heel kick without the movements to understand the motion and improving balance.
You can use a pad or do it with a sparring pattern. Just emphasize on landing the right part of your feet towards the desired target.
2.Holding the hip: Remember the hip exposing part right before kicking? Yes, do that and try to hold the position for 15-20 seconds while keeping your heels tight.
Holding the hip will not only improve the balance but bring about an overall positive change in flexibility.
3.Side kick: Practice the side kick as much as possible. Hook kick till it moves across the center line is pretty similar to the side kick in its form.
Thus, practice the side kick to the best of your abilities and if you already have a good side kick, you’re 60% there.
Variations of Hook Kick
If the hook kick is the most underutilized kick in martial arts, its variations are simply overused. The hook kick is amongst the kicks with most variations. These include the ultra-popular spinning hook kick, skipping hook kick, jumping hook kick and Back Hook kick.
Rear leg hook kick: As we learned above, the rear leg hook kick acts as a setup for the spinning hook kick. However, if you don’t wish to spin hook kick, then you can simply use the rear leg to great effect. Though time-consuming and can be easily telegraphed as compared to the front leg, this version can still help land considerable damage.
Front leg hook kick: Perhaps the most non=telegraphed kick in the mix. This variation has deception written all over it. Not only is it powerful, but it’s also unpredictable. Furthermore, even if you’re wrong-footed during a bout, you can take a cross angle and deliver the kick with the same impact. This one alongside the spinning hook kick is the cream of the crop.
Spinning Hook Kick: If you’ve just started out and do not know about spinning hook kick, you can check our spinning hook kick guide to learn about it. The spinning hook is amongst the most popular moves not just in Taekwondo but in the entirety of martial arts. It’s devastating and it roots from rear hook kick as explained by Kwonkicker. It is usually used to knock opponents down rather than pushing them behind.
Skipping Hook Kick: As mentioned in one of the counters above, a skipping hook kick is an effective kick which is extremely deceptive. As an opponent, you don’t want to be caught off-guard with quick movements. As an attacker, however, you can charge in on your opponents with a skipping hook kick and leave them reeling.
Jumping hook kick: Perhaps the fanciest iteration of the hook kick. It involves jumping before you connect your heels with the target. A jumping hook kick is a great tool when you’re up against an opponent with a height advantage over you. However, this kick is not quite as effective as the spinning hook kick since the elevation makes it less powerful.
Criticism of the Hook Kick
Hook kick is criticized by many as ineffective in combat. There isn’t much to the kick and it’s quite telegraphed. The end result isn’t effective and the body is much more exposed making a fighter vulnerable to counters. It takes a long time to deliver the kick
Hook Kick in different martial arts
A hook kick or a whip is used across various martial arts. Though very popular in Kukkiwon, it is used by martial artists from different backgrounds around the world. Let’s check out the different hook kick names in different martial arts.
- Karate: Ura Mawashi Geri
- Taekwondo: Huryeo Chagi
- Muay Thai: Tae Kod
- Kick Boxing: hook kick, whip kick, reverse roundhouse kick
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hook Kick Guide
Is the hook kick effective in a bout?
It completely depends upon how good you are at executing these kicks. Not just hook but for any type of kick, it’s your personal practice that determines the usefulness of a kick. Though the rear leg kick isn’t as effective as the front or spinning hook kick, it still can land considerable damage.
Which area of my opponent’s body should I target with hook kick?
Preferably, you should aim for the face and across the guard of your opponent if you’re competing in a point-based contest.
How can I improve flexibility for hook kick?
You can check the improving flexibility drills above and you can also refer to the detailed guide related to all types of exercises.
Can a hook kick score a knockout?
Do not heavily rely on it for a knockout. However, it can catch an opponent off-guard and present you with opportunities to land combinations which can ultimately lead to a knockout.
Is a hook kick effective than a roundhouse kick?
Though both kicks are great, a hook kick cannot really be compared to a roundhouse kick. Both kicks have different purposes and it’s hard to give one a nod over the other.
I hope this guide helped you get valuable insights about the hook kick. Though it is often criticized, this is a medium risk, medium rewards kick unless it’s the spinning version and thus is worth giving it a go. Practice the kick, follow the drills above and master the hook kick.