What Makes a Good Kicking Warm-Up Exercise?

Last week, I attempted to describe one of my favorite lower body warm-up exercises. Online and offline feedback since then indicate that my description wasn’t as clear as I intended.

The particular choreography of this kicking exercise isn’t so important. I recommended it for its general characteristics. To explore those qualities, let’s contrast the exercise with a more common kicking drill:

  • Kick with the left leg.
  • Take one step forward.
  • Kick with the right leg.
  • Take another step forward.
  • Repeat until you’ve walked across the entire room.

Done carefully, a drill like this one will improve your kicking. But the format of the drill makes it too easy to cheat. You can pause to stabilize yourself before and after every kick. You can fall onto the kicking leg before it lands on the ground. You can make these fundamental mistakes with every step, and still maintain the appearance of good technique. That is a problem.

A good warm-up exercise is like a tireless and vigilant instructor, drawing your attention to mistakes before they become stubborn habits. It is simple and direct, it challenges you, and it doesn’t abide any silly excuses.

This is why I like the figure-8 kicking drill. It covers all of the basic requirements of effective kicking, without “chambering”, snapping, or other stylistic affectations. In other words, it transforms fancy flickers into bad-ass kickers.


  1. kick sprints would be a fine way of raising your heartbeat. You constantly keep kicking till you are out of breath.

  2. Brush knee twist step with an outside crescent kick, repeat on both sides across the room or space( I work outside)
    Repulse monkey with a heel or instep kick to reverse.
    Separate left, right, left, right etc

    I think I focus on kicks more than any other taiji person I have met.
    Since I also work with a tree I practice heel kicks on trees too.

    To warm up I walk and stretch, since I do not and have never driven I walk 4-6 miles every day. So I tend to warm up in the morning and don’t have to do it again unless I have been lazy and inactive.

    I also love doing kick related stance work, the golden rooster posture and variations of it are what I tend to focus on for that.

    I think the kicks of taiji are unerestimated. Some of the kick stuff done by students of Shao hou and Ban hou are worth looking into, kicking is one of the things Cheng-fu altered a great deal in his public form transmissions.

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