An axe kick, also known as hammer kick or stretch kick is a kick that is commonly used in martial arts.
Additionally, this kick is used as a form of exercise to work your legs amongst other muscles which will be discussed later in this article.
Differentiating axe kicks from other kicks is the movement itself. While majority of the other kicks require you to chamber, the axe kick doesn’t.
When performing it, you will hold your kicking leg straight up in the air and land with full force. This is where it derives its name- from the impact that it delivers when it comes down, similar to a hammer or axe.
HOW TO DO AN AXE KICK PROPERLY
The axe kick is an incredible move that will consume most of your energy. It also demands that you have hip flexibility as it will involve movement of your hip joints while kicking and landing.
If you are a beginner, you will therefore need to perform some flexibility drills before actively engaging in axe kicks. Having said that, here is how to do it properly;
GET INTO THE STANCE
In order to get in the stance, if you are in a neutral position, you might need to take a small step ahead from your lead foot.
SHIFT YOUR BODY’S MOVEMENT
In order to bring or cause more impact, your kick has to be in sync with your whole body. To achieve this, step forward when you are about to do this kick.
ACTIVATE YOUR HIPS
Whether you are axe kicking from inward or from outward, activating your hips will come in handy.
While the decision on the direction to take lies solely on you, one thing you must do for sure is turning your non-kicking foot to activate your hips.
Activating your hips will help you to harness additional power and harness more strength into your kick.
LIFT YOUR KNEES
After being in the right position and having activated your hips, raise your legs either outwards or inwards at a 45-degree angle. When lifting your knee, ensure your shin is completely vertical.
TRANSFER YOUR BALANCE
As you lift your knees, transfer your weight to your back leg as this will help you to maintain balance and control. Consider having your leg straight as it reaches its maximum height.
Additionally, while lifting your leg for the kick, consider lifting your body slightly backward and support your kicks with your hips as this will help you to get a better reach.
THE MOVEMENT IMPACT
In order to achieve the movement impact, your knees should not be perfectly square at the time of impact. Instead, it should be slightly ahead of your nonkicking hip.
Always bend your knees slightly during the movement of impact to prevent it from hyperextending.
Remember, you should strike with the heel of your foot or the flat side. However, the heel is preferred most as the hard bone in it is stronger than the flat side.
LANDING AFTER THE KICK
With the impact and momentum that your kick lands with, when coming downwards, avoid landing it directly on the ground. Instead, hold it right before it hits the ground.
Failure to control your kick may lead to your foot or heels facing a terrible impact when coming into contact with the ground which might cause serious injuries.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES AXE KICK WORK?
We shall analyse these benefits in the three major phases involved in axe kick:
PHASE ONE: PREPARATION STAGE
During this stage when the legs are bent to drop the centre of gravity, your quadriceps are the primary muscles that take the pressure and your rear leg is activated.
When you’re rotating your torso to the left or right, your right and external obliques are worked. Additionally, your right gluteus maximus assisted by quads, hamstrings and calves will help push your body forward.
PHASE TWO: RAISING YOUR LEG
When you raise your kick, your right hip flexors and adductors flex the hip while the quadriceps keep your knee extended. Your right hamstrings will also bear the brunt of the stretch.
PHASE THREE: RELEASING THE KICK
Your hamstrings will be the main muscles to execute the kick. This is because it works both as the extensor of the hip and the flexor of the knee, or at least the stabiliser of your knee against hyper extension.
AXE KICK BENEFITS
Below are the fitness benefits associated with these kicks.
GETS YOUR STRETCH ON
The amount of stretches you engage in when performing the kick is huge. This is not all as you will also add to this list the stretches you do as warmups before performing them to avoid injury.
WORKS YOUR LOWER BODY
Performing the axe kick will incorporate your lower body which will get your heart to pump even faster. The more your flexibility increases, the higher and harder you will be able to kick.
WORKS YOUR CORE
Axe kick is also a great way to work your core, which includes your back and stomach muscles. Remember, the more comfortable you get with kicking the stronger your midsection will get.
ALTERNATIVES TO AXE KICK
The following are great alternatives
Front leg axe kick- This move will use the traditional axe kick; however, it will use your front leg versus your rear leg instead.
Jump axe kick- Also known as the jumping axe kick is an advanced variation of this kick which has more impact during landing.
Rear leg axe kick- This is the traditional axe kick that was mostly used in martial arts.
Skipping axe kick- As the name suggests, it involves skipping while doing a jumping axe kick.
COMMON AXE KICK MISTAKES TO AVOID
- Failing to point your foot before impact, which can cause a lack of balance.
- Use the ball of your foot. This will render your kick ineffective
- Not stepping forward when landing, which reduces the impact of the kick
- Not pivoting your nonkicking foot. This can cause serious injuries due to a lack of balance.
The axe kick is the most underutilized exercise kicks. The more you engage in it, the better your stability will be. However, you should consider combining it with other kicks for effectiveness.