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Hardest Karate Move? It’s This

I’ve been learning about the different moves in karate and wondered which technique is the hardest to learn. Based on my research here’s what I found.

What is the hardest karate move?

The most difficult karate move to master and do is ushiro ura mawashi geri which is a spinning roundhouse kick. For this kick you need flexibility, balance, and practice to perform this kick in a tournament or in real life.

Whether you’re interested in which kick is the most powerful, what martial art has the strongest kick, or if kicking is stronger than punching, below I’ll explain everything you need to know about the most difficult and powerful moves in karate.

karate kick

What is the most powerful karate kick?

Being able to generate a tonne of power in your kicks is good because it means you can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. And you can end the fight in one strike.

Here’s what the most powerful kick in karate is…

Interestingly, the kick that’s the most difficult to execute is also the most powerful kick and that’s the ushiro ura mawashi geri or spinning roundhouse kick. The motion of your body turning adds extra power to a standard roundhouse kick, and makes it the most powerful kick in karate.

You can throw this kick to the body, to the legs, or to the head. Throwing it to the body, or to the legs makes it nearly impossible to duck. Which means you’ll land this kick more often. However, as you strike your opponent with this kick it can hurt your foot, ankle, or shin. 

So, it’s important to practice it on a heavy bag, or a training dummy so you get used to where to make contact with your foot.

A version of this kick is found in other martial arts, such as Muay Thai, and Taekwon-do. The main difference between this kick performed in the different martial arts is the hand position and the follow-through.

What is the hardest kick in martial arts?

Many martial arts employ kicks, but which kick in particular generates the most power? I haven’t been able to find a scientific impact test. But, here’s what most people consider to be the most powerful kick in martial arts:

The meia lau de compasso in Capoeira is considered to generate the most power. It is a roundhouse kick except you perform this kick while on all fours – similar to if you were to crawl on your hands and feet. It is also one of the most difficult kicks to do and is unique to Capoeira.

Here’s a video showing how to do it, and what it looks like:

I took a quick look on Youtube and this kick has been used successfully in mixed martial arts a few times. So, it’s definitely effective. 

Is kicking stronger than punching?

You may have noticed that in a real fight competitors can knock out their opponent with either kicks or punches. But, I was wondering whether one is stronger than the other. Here’s which is stronger…

Based on studies quoted here and here, the hardest kick generates about 3 times as much force as a punch. The hardest punches can generate around 2,500 newtons of force, whereas, the hardest kicks can generate around 9,000 newtons of force. 

This is the same amount of force it would take to lift 900kg (1984 pounds) off the ground. This is an incredible amount of force and it’s surprising that a person can get hit with a kick or punch, and stay on their feet.

I often heard that the legs are much stronger than your arms when I was learning about weight training. It could be something interesting to try next time you’re in the gym.

You could see how much weight you can lift doing a bicep curl, versus how much weight you can lift by doing a leg curl – also called a hamstring curl.

The leg muscles are also naturally bigger than the muscles in your arms. And the gluteus maximus – your butt muscle – is the largest muscle in the human body. 

The spinning aspect of a spinning back kick is what gives it so much power, but you can do a spinning strike with both the legs and the arms. And the spinning roundhouse strike with your arms is called a spinning back fist. This move is allowed in mixed martial arts, and kickboxing, but is banned in professional boxing.

Is karate hard to learn?

Karate looks pretty complicated and so you may think that’s hard to learn, but is it really? Here’s the answer:

Karate is not very difficult to learn but it does take some time to learn all of the techniques. You can get a black belt in karate in 3 to 5 years of consistent training. And none of the techniques are overly difficult and only require you to dedicate enough time to learning and practicing them.

Certain martial arts are more difficult to learn than others though. I recently wrote an in-depth article about how difficult karate is to learn, how long each belt takes, as well as, how it compares to other martial arts which you can find here.

Is karate good in a street fight?

A thing I always wondered was whether one martial art is better than another and whether martial arts like karate are effective in a street fight. Here’s what I found.

Karate is good in a street fight because you can land strikes that will hurt or stop the aggressor. Kicks and punches hurt, and at most karate schools you will do ‘kumite’ sparring. This is what’s called sport karate where the objective is to land more strikes than your opponent. 

This type of training develops reflexes you’ll need to defend yourself on the street. However, karate is thought of as mostly a stand-up martial art. And doesn’t cover every aspect of a real fight. In a real fight, there are three major parts – striking, groundwork, and the clinch.

Striking is where you throw punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and in a street fight, headbutts. 

Groundwork is where you’re wrestling each other on the ground.

And certain martial arts like Brazilian jiu jitsu and judo teach submissions. Submissions are joint locks that can break your opponent’s joints and limbs. 

They also cover chokes which block off air to the lungs, or the flow of blood to the brain and will cause an opponent to pass out. 

The clinch is where you and your opponent are essentially hugging each other and trying to establish an advantageous position to trip them up, or throw them to the ground.

Wrestling and judo are particularly good for this part of the fight. However, Muay Thai also has clinch work which is called the ‘Thai clinch’. And can be used to land knees, or trip your opponent.

Karate mostly deals with just the striking aspect of a fight, so if your opponent gets in close you will have an equal skill level to them. And you won’t have a significant advantage over someone who is untrained.

Related questions:

Is kicking stronger than punching? Kicking is much stronger than punching. If you compare a kick and a punch, a kick will generate 3 times as much force as a punch. This is because the muscles in your legs are 3 times stronger than the muscles in your arms.

What hurts more, a kick or a punch? A kick hurts more than a punch because you can generate more force with a kick. During a fight, competitors normally have a rush of adrenaline and don’t feel the pain from a kick or punch. 

Surprisingly, many professional fighters claim that when they get knocked out they don’t remember what happened. But, it is typical that they will suffer a concussion and have a headache for a few weeks to a month after a fight.