By Floyd Burk

It's important to understand that you don't noodto kick really hard; you Just need to be precise}}

The kicks of taekwondo are among the best in the business. Nevertheless, for close-range combat, they suffer from a bad reputation. Some people say the art's kicks should only be used for setting up hand strikes or one-step situational self-defense moves, while others declare that no kicks are effective enough to be used in a real fight.

Andrew Hahn, a seventh-degree black belt in taekwondo, says phooey to all the skeptics: "The general misconception out there is that you can't kick from close range. That's just not true, unless you don't know how to kick or are unwilling to learn. When kicking becomes good, it can happen at any range. Highly trained martial artists will make their kicks [work] at any distance."

The following is his advice for close-range kicking; he divides it into three phases:

• Phase one entails determining the

Taekwondo instructor Andrew Hahn (left) demonstrates how the outside crescent kick can be effective at close range (1-2).

kicking action to be used, the level of the kick, the type of kick and the best target. Hahn recommends snapping action for short-range kicking. One of its benefits is that it requires very little wind-up. That helps you maintain your balance while allowing you to do multiple kicks and fast counterattacks. From a defensive standpoint, the snapping action is superior because it minimizes the chance your opponent will be able to grab your leg or get behind it.

Hahn splits short-range kicking into two levels: lower (below the waist) and upper (above the waist). If you're new to kicking or lacking in flexibility, focus on lower-level kicks. "The advantage of low-level kicks is they can be done with relative ease and the kicker need not be especially flexible," Hahn says. "For best results, avoid the fancy stuff and stick with taekwondo's basic bread-and-butter kicks: the front kick and side kick, done primarily with the lead leg, and the stomp kick. Low-level targets include the groin, knee, outer thigh and shin. Any of them will slow an opponent down, and a groin strike will immobilize him."

Upper-level kicks require more flexibility and strength, but if you're capable, they can work well. "Because of all the additional targets that can be accessed at the upper level, you should add the roundhouse kick, crescent kick and ax kick to your arsenal," Hahn says. "The targets include those in the middle [of the body]—the stomach, rib cage and solar plexus—and the high areas—the

Taekwondo instructor Andrew Hahn (left) demonstrates how the outside crescent kick can be effective at close range (1-2).

Taekwondo Knife Atack
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