Bruce Lee’s Low Kicks With The Rear Leg

If you have followed Bruce Lee for any length of time, then you know that he advised that you kick the nearest target to you with the closest weapon, probably your lead (forward) foot.

It makes sense, when you think about the principle of the shortest distance…. straight lines, etc. And you know that Bruce Lee emphasized directness and efficiency. So, a single, direct, shin kick would seem most appropriate, right. And he did recommend a front, knee kick, too.

On the other hand…

there are several examples of Bruce kicking low with the rear leg. Also, you’ll see the Bruce Lee move imitators, like Jason Scott Lee, performing a similar kick with the rear leg. (I am thinking of his great fight scene in the prison in Time Cop 2.)

So, what gives?

Bruce Lee’s Low Kick, Front or Rear?

Why would Bruce Lee go against his own philosophy?

Actually, he doesn’t (didn’t). He’s true to his own principles. You simply have to see how he’s using the kick, both in his movies and during his training.

I see two main ways of incorporating a low kick with the rear foot:

1) You aren’t getting in with the front low kick. So, you repeat that kick several times, setting your opponent up for the timing of a progressive indirect attack. One of those forward kicks doesn’t quite reach the target… instead, the rear foot land a kick on almost the same beat that the forward kick would have reached the target.

The key here is to keep the body consistent. You don’t want to clue your opponent into the fact that anything has changed. In fact, he or she still has to be focused on the forward foot. The expectation of a front kick has to be strong, in order to surprise with an indirect attack.

2) You use the rear kick as the set up. You deliver a non-telegraphed, rear, low kick. You fire it off as fast as possible, but it’s not fast enough. So, you start the rear kick once again, but a shorter forward kick surprises your opponent instead.

This is the reverse of number one, but with a difference. In the first case, there was a shortened front kick… and you place the first foot down just a bit forward of where it started, as the other foot kicks. But in this second one, think of it more as a replacement kick.

When Your Kick Doesn’t Work

In each case, when the direct route wasn’t working, an indirect one-and-a-half beat, double technique serves as a fake.

Does this make sense?

Can you see why Bruce Lee thought it was an effective combination, no matter which order the kicks were delivered?

It was the timing that was important.