As its name implies, the roundhouse kick is a powerhouse kick. Don't let its simplicity fool you. It has great strength, energy, and power when done correctly. The roundhouse kick can be done quickly for sparring competitions or precisely for taekwondo forms.
The roundhouse kick is the most common technique applied in amateur-level sparring matches. It is relatively safe to execute and relies on timing and distance management by the taekwondo athlete in order to score a hit. Coaches will commonly encourage their athletes to string together multiple roundhouse kicks in combination, which can be a straightforward technique used to overwhelm the opponent as long as the taekwondo athlete has sufficient stamina. It is often said that the best defense to a back kick is the roundhouse kick, and the best defense to a roundhouse kick is a back kick. Perhaps the most commonly seen application in a tournament setting is when the taekwondo athlete knows he or she has an advantage in speed or power against the opponent. Speed can be used to launch the roundhouse kick before the opponent can counter or dodge. Power, when landed on the opponent's hogu, can be enough to stun or delay the opponent - enough to win the match.
That being said, make sure that you invest in a good hogu so that you don't get stunned by your opponent's roundhouse kick! Being able to take an unexpected hit can be the difference between win or loss, safety or knockout.
The roundhouse kick takes the top of the list because it has applications not just in sparring, but also in taekwondo forms. This particular kick is featured twice in Taegeuk 6, one of the compulsory competition forms for beginning students and younger athletes. How do athletes score highly on this kick? The key is flexibility and the trained ability to contract the correct muscles in holding a head-level roundhouse kick.
After the versatile roundhouse kick, the taekwondo side kick comes in second place. In reality, this is not a kick that taekwondo athletes will see or use often in competition sparring. However, the side kick is the key kick to perfect for the serious athlete competing in taekwondo forms. Even amateur athletes will practice this kick hundreds of times at the beginning of a regular practice session. In this way, the side kick can be considered a fundamental technique. This kick has the added bonus of strengthening the correct hip flexor, thigh, and calf muscles necessary for strong stances and sharp movements throughout the taekwondo forms.
Repeated hit training with a kicking shield can help dedicated athletes increase power in their side kicks. Here is a firm one by Everlast and a softer one by Tiger Claw. Both are highly reviewed products with the best of praise in this market. It is advisable to have a kicking partner who knows how to hold your kicking shield correctly.
Last but not least is the humble front kick. Although a well-aimed front kick to the opponent's chin might be able to stun the other player during a sparring match, the front kick takes center stage in taekwondo forms and freestyle demonstrations.
The front kick, with its toes pulled back and a flat ankle, takes months if not years to perfect. It requires flexibility and accurate timing when shifting the pivoting foot. Watching the front kicks performed by high-scoring taekwondo athletes is both mesmerizing and inspirational. If you want to join the ranks of athletes who can perform this kick well, perhaps this stretching aide can help you attain the results you are looking for.
Of course, having a regular stretching routine is also a safe bet.