Tai Chi originated as a martial art and it is effective for combat. However, over the years it has had many misconceptions about its practical use for fighting. Actually each movement in Tai Chi has a logical combat application and every movement is based upon combat techniques and defensive postures.

In the traditional Chen Tai Chi Form One (Tai Chi) and Form Two (Cannon Fist), there are a number of kick techniques quite similar to some kick techniques in kickboxing, which can be effectively used for fighting. Many people may quite surprise with why Tai Chi kicks are simular to kickboxing. Now I would like to introduce eight common kick techniques in combat Tai Chi.

Push Kick

Push Kick is usually considered the most basic of all kicks. Delivering a Push Kick involves rising a knee of striking leg to the position in which desired point-of-impact, one's foot and pelvis are on the same line. Then, one should straighten striking leg quickly and make contact with a target area.

Tai Chi Movement: The Jade Girl Works at Shuttles


Target Area: ribcage, chest, abdomen and groin


  • Block hand attack      

  • Right ball of foot hit one’s ribcage or chest    










Front Snap Kick

Front Snap Kick is a move with raising a knee up and then quickly snaps the toes of the foot forward and upward into a target. The direction of force for this move is straight in front of the person. The Front Snap Kick can be performed with either the front leg or the back leg.

Tai Chi Movement: Rub with Right / Left Foot




Target Area: face, abdomen and groin

Application 1:

  • Block hand strike      

  • Right toes of foot snap kick one’s groin    










Application 2:

  • Pull one’s hair down      

  • Right toes of foot snap kick one’s face    










Outside Crescent

The outside crescent kick has some similarities to a hook kick. The energy from the snap is then redirected, whipping the leg into an arc and hitting the target from the side. This is useful for getting inside defenses and striking the side of the body or the knee following up with a close attack. In many styles of Tai Chi, crescent kicks are utilised as tripping techniques.

Tai Chi Movement: Cross Waving Lotus

Target Area: knee and shin


Application 1:

  • Redirect hand attack      

  • Swing right foot outward to strike one’s right shin or knee    










Application 2:

  • Left hand redirects ones’ hand attack      

  • Right step forward and hoot one’s right leg      

  • Press ones right shoulder down      









Side Kick

Side Kick is a kick delivered sideways in relation to the body of the person kicking. There are two areas that are commonly used as impact points in sidekicks. The first is the heel of the foot and the other is the outer edge of the foot (this is sometimes called the side blade kick). Side Kick sometimes uses, in combat Tai Chi, as a damaging attack to strike the knees of a high-kicking opponent.

Tai Chi Movement: Kick with Left / Right Heel


Target Area: ribcage and knee


Application 1:










Application 2:










Inside Crescent (Roundhouse Kick)

A roundhouse kick is a kick in which the attacker swings his leg around in a semicircular motion and strikes using front of the leg or foot. This type of kick is utilised in many different martial arts including Tai Chi. This kick has many variations based on stance, leg movement, striking surface, and the height of the kick.

Tai Chi Movement: Tornado Foot

Target Area: ribcage and thigh


Application 1:










Application 2:

  • Turn right slight      

  • Swing left leg inward and upward    

  • Hit one’s right ribcage    










Reverse Snap Kick (Step& Back Kick)

This kick is directed backward keeping the kicking leg close to the standing leg and using the heel as a striking surface. Most often, this kick is delivered with a step backward motion. It can be highly damaging due to its power, invisibility and vital target areas such as groin.

Tai Chi Movement: Double Forearm Punches

Target Area: groin and shin

Application 1:

  • Turn right slightly      

  • Throw left leg backward    

  • Left heel to hit groin    










Application 2:

  • Turn right slightly    

  • Throw left leg backward    

  • Left heel to hit one’s front shin    











Sweeping kick starts similar to a round kick, with pivoting on one foot, sweeping another foot around toward the opponent’s lower leg or ankle to hit these targets with the top of the foot (shoelace area). Usually there are two types of sweeping: front sweeping and back sweeping. Timing, speed and balance are essential to apply this technique.

Tai Chi Movement: Sweeping Leg

Target Area: lower leg and ankle


Application 1:

  • Squat and avoid the attack     

  • Pivot right leg     

  • Sweep left leg to hit one’s front lower leg or ankle    










Application 2:

  • Squat and turn right     

  • Pivot left leg     

  • Sweep right leg to hit one’s lower leg     











"Stamp it and smash it", this is what a Stamping Kick is. A stamping kick is usually applied for very close range and targets on knee, shin and toes.

Tai Chi Movement: Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar

Target Area: knee, shin and toes

Application 1:

  • Block hand strike     

  • Raise right knee     

  • Stamp one’s left knee heavily    










Application 2:

  • Block hand strike     

  • Raise right knee     

  • Stamp one’s left foot heavily    




The above Tai Chi kicks are those techniques which are commonly used in combat Tai Chi. They can be seen clearly in Tai Chi Form One (Tai Chi) and Form Two (Cannon Fist).

However, there are a number of other Tai Chi kicks hidden in the traditional Tai Chi forms as they are invisible. I am going to explore and explain them in the next article named Tai Chi Hidden Kicks.


Xiaotong Huang (Todd)

Tai Chi Practitioner, Sydney

Email: hxtyagf@gmail.com

Mobile: 0438 800 851


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