How to Master the 4 Fundamental Kicks

Is there anything more badass than a perfect back kick?

Fact: Nothing feels more badass than kicking the crap out of a heavy bag-especially after a long day.

"The intense level of focus eliminates the opportunity to worry about things in life that stress you out," says Nicole Schultz, head trainer at EverybodyFights (the Boston-based boxing gym founded by George Foreman III). Schultz also has a background in Taekwondo and Muay Thai. "This can be very freeing, allowing you to relax your mind and focus just on what's in front of you." And when what's in front of you is a punching bag begging to be demolished? Well, you can say so long to stress.

But before you get too carried away, brush up on proper kicking form, so you can maximize your power and reduce your risk of injury. Incorporate these tips from Schultz, then kick away to your heart's content. (Don't forget to perfect your punching form too.)

Attention, lefties: Your boxing stance will start with your right foot in front instead of your left. Flip the directions (left foot becomes right, and right becomes left) for each kick to do them from this position.

Front Kick

Start in boxing stance: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with the left foot in front and fists protecting face. Drive the right hip forward so hips are square to the front, and shift weight onto the left foot, drawing right knee up toward chest. Quickly extend the right leg to strike target with ball of foot. Snap the right leg down to return to boxing stance.

Common mistakes: Don't drop hands during the kick (keep your guard up!), and avoid keeping the kicking leg too straight or leaning back too far.

Back Kick

Start in boxing stance. Pivot on the left foot to face backward and lift the right foot off the ground. Spot target at the front and kick the right leg straight, striking target with the heel of the foot. Quickly lower the right leg to the ground and reset stance.

Common mistakes: Keep an eye on the target throughout the entire kick, don't lean forward while kicking, and make sure not to rotate more than 180 degrees during the kick.

Side Kick

Start in boxing stance.Step right foot forward, and shift weight onto that leg, driving left knee up to chest while stacking left hip above the right. Extend the left leg to strike target with heel, knee and toes pointing to the right. Snap the left leg down to the ground, then take a step back with the right foot to return to boxing stance.

Common mistakes: Don't lean back too far when extending the kick. Remember to turn your hips over before kicking and to keep your guard up.

Roundhouse Kick

Start in boxing stance. Pivot on the left foot, driving right hip forward so torso and hips face the left. Extend the kicking leg forward with a pointed toe to strike the target with the right shin. Continue to rotate to the left, placing right foot back on the floor to return to boxing stance.

Common mistakes: Remember to drive through the hips to power the rotation and allow the supporting foot to pivot. Keep fists up and avoid leaning back too far.

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