Mawashigeri – Details, Methods & Applications (Karate)

how to execute Mawashigeri correctly

Mawashigeri is a circular kick, that you don't find in Kata.

Funny right? But whatever the original reason may be, it's CLEARLY an effective kick. 

Mawashigeri is supposed to come from the side in a dead-straight, horizontal line. On Paper.

Some instructors or styles may emphasise that more than others though... and naturally: if the kick is Gedan or Jodan, the line will be more diagonal. 

And practically? It totally depends...

So what does it mean?

Whether you kick...

  • with the instep
  • the ball of the foot
  • or even with your shin... MUST be able to kick in any angle. In that way, you can use it under many circumstances.

With that said... you need to know what to do physically.

Let's dive right in ⬇️

Chudan Mawashigeri with the ball of the foot

Every kick has these general key points

  • Pull your heel in as you raise your knee on centre line
  • Keep your body straight
  • Float your Kamae (relax your arms)
  • Apply Hikiashi after you kick (pull back)

Mawashigeri has three specific key points

  • Twist your hips
  • Pivot on your supporting leg
  • Kick from the side (outside to in)

mawashigeri, step-by-step - including hidden exercise

The Digi Dojo - Keri Waza - Kamae

Take left stance.

You may use other stances for practise, but this is the general one to start. 

The Digi Dojo - Keri Waza - Raise knee

Raise your knee while keeping your posture as straight as possible.

Start your kick by bringing your knee straight up (Traditional Wado Mawashigeri). You may change kamae naturally, but do not separate the movement. 

And did you notice? Kamae is not 'changed'. It's opposite (for a reason).

This is a specific method to avoid moving your arms separately. At this stage, you arms might have changed already.

The Digi Dojo - Keri Waza - Mawashigeri

Execute Mawashigeri as you pivot on your supporting leg. Keep your left hand in front of your chest, your right hand will tend to naturally position itself.

Note, that you can extend your arm on purpose for coordination. And when you advance in level, focus on "floating" your Kamae (relax as much as possible).

If you do a full Mawashigeri, your foot should point diagonally backwards as pictured.  (When you're very flexible, you may not need to. BUT you'll probably lose ability to use your body to kick.)

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do you kick with instep or the ball of the foot?


Usually the instep is used for beginners. The instep is not only easier, but also more popular. The ball of the foot is more traditional, yet more difficult to use. 

kick with the instep of your foot

The Digi Dojo - Shiyobui - Josokutei

The instep (Haisoku) can be used to attack various parts of the body. The instep is a part of the body which can reach long distance and is also easily used for chudan, jodan and gedan attacks. 

Don’t limit yourself to competition rules.

The instep is very useful for kicking the inside or outside of the knee or upper leg. It can even be used to sweep. 

or use the ball of the foot for mawashigeri

The Digi Dojo - Shiyobui - Koshi

Use the ball of the foot to attack various parts of the body.

An important note is that the angle of the ankle has not so much to do with the target, but rather with the angle of which you contact the target.

For basic training of Mawashigeri, bend the ankle and bend the toes upwards. Experiment using a streched ankle when doing Maegeri or a slightly bend ankle when doing Sunegeri.

here you go: my favorite mawashigeri exercises

If you analyse Mawashigeri, you can see that it consists of various different elements, which have to work smoothly in synchronism. So what do you do, when you struggle with a specific element of the kick?

It's extremely beneficial to isolate movement, so you can focus on that without any kind of distraction. Distraction means other elements that require your attention like balance, twisting, foot pivoting... etcetera.

The extension of the leg for example, is obviously one of the elements.

Here's how you can practise the leg extension WITHOUT any distraction 👇

lie-down mawashi

If you perform Mawashigeri as you do in basics, you have to not only mind the extension of your leg, but also your balance, axis rotation, hip movement, kamae, pivoting of supporting leg.. etcetera.

Lie-Down Mawashi 1
Lie-Down Mawashi 2

All of these elements get in the way from focussing purely on the extension of your leg.

For that reason, you can practice lying down on the floor as pictured. This allows you to isolate the extension of the leg and practice without worrying about any of the other things mentioned.

shiho mawashigeri

This method emphasises mainly two things.

One is becoming mahanmi (face your body the side) completely...

...and the other is balance and stability of axis rotation.

When you execute Mawashigeri for basics, you have to open up your hip completely: You should become Mahanmi. This method allows you to focus on this and check at the same time since you have to put your kick straight down after completion.

from the square-meter methods
shiho mawashigeri

Shiho Mawashigeri4

shiho mawashigeri 2

Use Heisoku Dachi, so that you can prove that your axis rotation and balance is under your control.

Usually in basics you step through or step back, which allows you to correct your balance by adding movement. If you use Heisoku dachi, you cannot hide any balance issues.

Also, it helps you to focus on your Axis movement, because you have no intention to step through or go back. Or in fact follow up with any movement that can hide your inabilities...

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PRO: ido kihon mawashigeri

the official basics

basics performance

slow demonstration

 key points and details

how to defend against mawashigeri

Mawashigeri is easier to catch than Maegeri - simply due to the nature of the kick. Or perhaps better verbalised: the trajectory. Key is to use Ten I (move) to diminish the impact and position yourself correctly. If you manage that, it's go time.

how to catch his leg 1/2

The second you catch his Mawashigeri you are at an advantage. BUT you have to know what to do, else your opponent will use it to his advantage. 

catch his leg variation 2/2

As always there are variations which lead to different options - just like this one.

 various takedowns, locks and more

This video contains lots of Mawashigeri Uke, including takedows, locks and other stuff that I used to be crazy about 10 years ago. If you're looking to try something different or teach a class on Mawashigeri - watch this one.

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