Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Using The Lead Leg Attack

Martial Arts Internatioinal

Why is it generally so that using the lead leg attack is so ineffectually by the majority of martial artists.

Using the closest weapon to the target was a core principle of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune do. This principle he derived from fencing where the weapon was always held in the lead hand. This principle was also very effectively utilized by the legendary Bill Wallace who use only his lead hand and foot exclusively to attack.

Why is it generally so that using the lead leg attack is so ineffectually by the majority of martial artists.

Master Geoff Bennett* who renowned kicking skills from either the lead or rear legs offers the following explanations:

1) Power generation systems
Most Systems of martial arts rely on large torque arcs to derive power in the roundhouse kicks as most famously demonstrated with tremendously powerful Thai Round Kick. The short arc between the lead leg and target often does not allow for large amount of power to be developed in this fashion this why you rarely see Thai Boxers perform a lead round kick without the aid of a switch step. There are a few systems of Chinese kung fu known for their short power. This same principal for generating short power often associated with hand strikes can be applied to kicks and can mean power can be generated even with a small arc. Some Chinese masters attribute the generation of short power to Hei Gung (Chi Kung). Master Bennett instead explains that the Chinese were highly advanced in science and the physics in Chinese martial arts lends itself to efficient power generation and delivery systems through correct transfer of mass via anatomically correct body shape and posture ie biomechanics.

2) Telegraphing
Most people telegraph a lead leg kick to their opponent by either shifting the body backward of by adding an adjustment step or both. PPS basic on guard stance lends itself to kicking off the lead leg, with the rear leg heel lifted of great importance. To prepare for an effective non telegraphic chamber Master Bennett emphases two core elements:
a) Simultaneously dropping the rear heel and hip adjustment together with a contraction of the calf of the lead leg
b) Contraction of the lower abdominal muscles to drive the knee up

Shifting the body backward or the “lean back” as it often called directs the center mass in opposite direction of the line of force of the eventual attack. Simple physics dictates the to have your mass moving in the correct direction of the opponent your center of mass must come to a rest and then be remotivated to the correct direction. This takes a huge amount of time in the context of combat and reflex. A simple car analogy will explain the logic of the PPS methodology. Three cars at rest, one on a flat road, one on a flat road but with an external force causing it to roll back slowly, and the other at rest downhill. Quite obviously the one with the potential energy of the downhill slope is the car with the quickest acceleration, followed by the car at rest on a flat road, and lastly the car which had its mass moving in the opposite direction of its ending direction.

3) Ineffectual Use of hand foot combinations

4) Ineffectual disguise
With single direct attacks the opponent may see the kick coming, if it is not properly disguised. They will easily diffuse and counter the kick attack. If the initial move is generic to a number of different attacks an attack may be utilized which best suit the initial defensive move of the opponent. This is best exemplified by Bill Wallace who utilized the same kick chamber for the three kicks that he used.

The initial leg and body movement used when kicking normally predicates the types of kick delivered. Master Bennett emphasizes that the kicks initial movement should be such that the kick that will be delivered is hard to read and that the kick should be easily change midkick should the opponent try to predict the intended target. Master often delays the attack midkick by a quarter beat to superset the opponent’s motor response. Once the opponent has committed to a defensive maneuver, an alternate target is attacked.

*Geoff Bennett is World Chief Instructor of Geoff Bennett Martial Arts International, which teaches Progressive Protection Systems. Master Bennett has been studying and teaching martial arts for over 30 years and was one of two closed door disciples of Grandmaster Ho Soon Cheng of Malaysia who elected Geoff the World Head Instructor. Geoff continues to teach and develop the system together with dedicated instructors in throughout Sydney as well as Malaysia and Greece.