Is Taekwondo Only Kicking?

Taekwondo involves a lot of kicking. And that’s what’s dominant about this martial art. But is there more to it, or is Taekwondo only kicking?

Taekwondo involves a lot more than kicking. Punches and strikes are allowed and are an integral part of the sport. In fact, the name Taekwondo means the way of the foot and fist. But kicking is more prevalent because it earns more points than punches and strikes.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In this article, we’ll find out how much Taekwondo uses punching and what kind of hits are allowed. But we’ll also find out if head kicks are legal in Taekwondo.

Let the fun begin.

Does Taekwondo involve punching?

Yes, Taekwondo involves punching. So, it is actually a combo of kicking and punching. The objective is to kick and punch an opponent in the allowed target areas to earn the maximum number of points. However, punches are not allowed to the head or below the waist.

So, it’s almost more of a sport than a martial art.

TKD is the way of the foot and fist. So, apart from kicking techniques, there are hand techniques in Taekwondo. Open and closed hand techniques.

Punching is a closed hand technique.

But kicking is the most exciting part of the art. This is why there’s more emphasis on it. It also attracts more points in competitions.

Little wonder, most TKD practitioners focus on it. There are many types of punches; they are known as Jireugi in Taekwondo.

Say you’re learning TKD, how often should you train? 

Luckily, this is what I looked at in a recent article. In it, I shared how many days a week you should train and how long it takes to progress in it. But I also spoke about whether it’s cool to train every day.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What kicks are allowed in Taekwondo?

Kicks to the head and body are allowed in Taekwondo. But no kicks (or punches) are allowed below the waist.

Kicks are known as Chagi, and there are about twenty types of kicks that are allowed.

Naturally, they can be executed in a variety of ways. These kicks can be targeted at different body parts such as the head, torso, knee, ribs…but not at the groin or some other areas that are against the rules.

Let’s check out a list of most of the kicks allowed (and what they’re called in Korean) and explore a couple of them in detail:

  • Axe Kick – Naeryeo Chagi
  • Back Kick – Dwi Chagi
  • Crescent Kick – Bandal Chagi
  • -Inside Crescent Kick – An Chagi (Bandal An Chagi)
  • -Outside Crescent Kick – Bakkat Chagi (Bandal Bakkat Chagi)
  • Downward Roundhouse Kick – Dollyo Naeryeo Chagi
  • Double Roundhouse Kick – Narae Chagi
  • Front Kick – Ap Chagi
  • Hook Kick – Huryeo Chagi
  • Flying Back Kick – Twi-myo Dwi Chagi 
  • Flying Side Kick – Twi-myo Yeop Chagi
  • Jumping Back Kick – Eedan Dwi Chagi 
  • Jumping Front Kick – Eedan Ap Chagi


Having seen most of the kicks in TKD. Let’s check out 2 of the most well-known kicks.

Downward Roundhouse Kick – Dollyo Naeryeo Chagi

The roundhouse kick is arguably the most famous kick in TKD.

It’s what many people want to see. It can be devastating when it’s properly executed. But, it’s delicate and tricky to do. Even folks who are not hip to TKD probably know it because it’s popular in movies.

The steps involved are easy to describe, but it requires being flexible and swift to do it so well that it connects with the target.

One of the legs is raised, the knee is held high, while the other leg, on which you’re standing, is pivoted, and then the raised leg is thrust outward to hit the opponent.

It’s all done swiftly such that the outward thrust is kind of like a snap.

Crescent Kick – Bandal Chagi

Another popular and equally hard-to-execute kick is the crescent kick. It can also be devastating in its impact. It has two forms.

There’s the inside crescent kick and the outside crescent kick.

You raise your kicking leg against your body as high as possible while placing it across your body’s centerline. If it’s an inside kick from the centerline, you sweep the leg outward and connect with the target.

While, for an outer kick, you sweep inside towards the centerline and connect with your target.

Are head kicks legal in Taekwondo?

Head kicks are legal in Taekwondo, although punches are not. In a match, kicks to the head earn points once they touch an opponent’s face or headgear. There is no force required. And because only a light touch is required and head protection is worn, there is no real danger involved.

In fact, kicks to the head earn the most points.

Consider that contestants can earn 3 points for any valid kick to the head. And 5 points for a valid turning kick to the head. But they must be valid kicks. They must be landed with parts of the foot that are below the ankle.

Say one has to choose between Taekwondo and Judo, which one’s better? 

In a recent article, I looked at the main similarities between both of them and whether Taekwondo is effective in a street fight. But I also spoke about who’s likely to win if a Taekwondo and a Judoka were to have a go at it.

Just click the link to read it on my website.

What moves other than kicks are allowed in Taekwondo?

Apart from kicks, punches and strikes to the torso are allowed in Taekwondo and earn points. But it is against the rules to punch the face or head or below the waist.

So, kicks are the primary technique used, but hand techniques are often employed as a backup.

There are a lot of techniques relating to punches and strikes. Some of the punches are similar to what obtains in boxing, while some are unique to TKD.

The following is a list of some of the punches.

  • Diguetja Punch (“C” Shaped Punch) – Digeutja Jireugi
  • Downward Punch – Naeryeo Jireugi
  • Fork Punch – Chetdar Jireugi
  • Extended Knuckle Fist Punch – Jipge Jumeok Jireugi
  • Geumgang Punch – Geumgang Jireugi
  • Half-Clenched Fist Punch – Pyeon Jumek Jireugi

So, you’re interested in learning TKD, but can you teach yourself? 

In a recent article of mine, I revealed whether it’s easy to learn and if you can learn it online. But I also shared how to learn it step-by-step, and I give you several completely free sources to use.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Taekwondo the same as kickboxing?

Taekwondo is very different from kickboxing. Taekwondo is more of a sport, and an Olympic sport at that, while kickboxing martial art classes are full-contact with the goal of knocking out the opponent. But many kickboxing classes are purely for fitness.

Their philosophy and origin also differ.

Taekwondo is of Korean origin. Kickboxing, on the other hand, has many styles and isn’t really a martial art at all as it lacks a spiritual component.

But they do share a love of kicks.

Kickboxing is American, and it’s a mix of traditional martial arts with boxing and some other western arts. It’s a combat or fitness sport that lacks a spiritual dimension.

TKD on the other hand, judging from the “do” in the name, is a path, a spiritual process that’s about refining one’s character. As such, it’s more than fighting.

Another key difference is that there’s a ranking system in Taekwondo, but there’s none in kickboxing. So, there are no belts that determine a practitioner’s level of proficiency.

What about Aikido vs. Taekwondo, which one’s better? 

That’s the theme of a recent article where I looked at the differences between both of them and why Aikido has a bad reputation. But I also looked at how Aikido compares with BJJ.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Taekwon-do | Basic Punches and Strikes 🥋👊🏻


In the article, we found out whether Taekwondo involves punching and what kind of kicks are allowed.

But we also found out if head kicks are legal in Taekwondo. Then, we checked out what other moves other than kicks are allowed.

Lastly, we considered whether Taekwondo is the same as kickboxing.

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