Strategy and Tactics in Tae Kwon Do, Part 2

Point #3 of overall strategy calls upon the use of a powerful kick to deliver the coup de grace to the opponent. I strongly recommend using great caution in this situation. The martial arts are subject to numerous laws governing adequate use of force. While the movies make a glamorous spectacle of some kicks, there is little effort to alert the viewer that such kicks can result in devastating injuries.

In my opinion, an instructor is ethically obliged to emphasize only those kicks which can render an opponent harmless without causing a debilitating or life threatening injury. The kicks I recommend are the sidekick, waist high, the turning sidekick, and the front snap kick to the stomach or solar plexus. Both can render an opponent harmless without dire consequences.


In the above discussion, I do not wish to infer that a practitioner must exactly follow the three points to achieve the final desired outcome. Indeed, given the right kicks, it is entirely possible to skip Point #1 and go directly to Points #2 and #3 with only one kick. The jumping sidekick is a classic example of this. However, too often the impression is made that all it requires is one good kick to render an opponent harmless. That is not always the case. It is better to condition the student to deliver more than one kick than to have that student find out in a real situation that more than one was needed. Having outlined strategy and tactics, this knowledge needs to be transferred to the student. The best means of doing this is with the use of combination training.

Combination training reinforces in the student the need to use multiple kicks in an organized rhythm or pattern. It also allows the instructor to take a recently learned kick and put it in a learning sequence where the student can quickly grasp its relevance. Strategy gives training definition and tactics give training substance. An instructor can easily prepare combination training routines that are quick to learn and highly effective. A few examples of possible routines include the following:

Roundhouse Kick, Turning Side Kick, Side Kick.
Front Snap Kick (face), Front Snap Kick (solar plexus), and Turning Side Kick.
Crescent Kick, Turning Side Kick, Side Kick.
Front Snap Kick (face), Side Kick, and Side Kick.
The other combinations used are up to the discretion and the imagination of the instructor. The combinations can either be performed in solo training situations, or with a partner. Again, I wish to stress that the kicks to be used in the training should be selected with the understanding that crippling injuries are not meant to be the intent of training. The more lethal kicks ought only to be used when there is a very clear and evident threat on the practitioner’s life.

The above-mentioned are basic considerations for strategy and tactics. Doubtless, a person can find any number of texts or manuals that will recommend any number of other techniques and procedures. I would encourage investigating other sources for inspiration. What is important is to have strategy and tactics govern instruction when the student achieves higher rank. By the time a student has mastered the first two or three ranks, he or she is familiar with the method behind each of the basic kicks.

That person needs to be taught how to best use what has been learned.

The logic evident in a well-developed notion of strategy encourages the student to become proficient in the systematic execution of the kicks that comprise the tactics, resulting in more competent self-defense.

Instruction without regard to strategy is little more than physical fitness conditioning. Instruction with an emphasis on strategy and subsequent tactics, however, produces a skilled practitioner of the martial art of tae kwon do