Sokuto – Karate Side Kick

sokuto does not mean side kick

Sokuto, otherwise known as side kick is called Yokogeri in Shotokan. Yoko means sideways so it is quite easy to understand why they use this term. In Wado, the same kick has a different name: Sokuto. For completeness you could say Sokutogeri, but this is not common. The name Sokuto comes from the position of the foot, which you can understand from the Kanji.

足刀 = Sokuto
足 = Soku (also pronounced as Ashi) means foot
刀 = To (also pronounced as Katana) means sword or knife

You could conclude that 足刀 refers to the cutting side (edge) of the foot. This is the part of the foot that is called Sokuto.

practise sokuto with these methods

There are several different kinds of Sokuto, like Fumikomi (stamp), Kekomi (thrust) and Keage (swing upwards). The dynamic of Sokuto Fumikomi and Kekomi is the same, it is a thrusting movement.

Now I will show you a video, photos and text with several exercises that you can use to practice and develop Sokuto.

I share two training methods, which I cut up in different exercises so that you can develop step by step.

work on sokuto step by step

Step by step means two things:

  1. Start easy and work your way up gradually.
  2. Focus on one thing at a time, and more as you work your way up.

1/3 control the movement of your toes and foot

Loosen up your toes and work on motor control.


Strenghten your ankle and work on the angle.


2/3 control the movement of your leg and finally 3/3 in conjunction with your hip

2/3 Twist your body already, so that you do not have to worry about using your hip and use a chair so that you do not have to mind too much about your balance. 


3/3 Execute the complete movement, but still use a chair or anything else for support to ease maintaining your balance.


how to practise sokuto in basics

The Digi Dojo - Keri Waza - Kamae

Take left stance.

Take left Hanmi Gamae You may use other stances for practise, but this is the general one. 

The Digi Dojo - Keri Waza - Raise knee

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

"Traditionally" for Wado, bring your knee up straight for Mawashigeri You may change kamae naturally but do not separate the movement. 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 - Sokuto

Execute Mawashigeri as you pivot on your supporting leg. If you do a full Mawashigeri, your foot should point diagonally backwards.

Twist your body, pivot on your supporting leg and execute Mawashigeri Keep your left hand in front of your chest, your right hand will tend to naturally position itself.

do not kick with the full edge

Like ashi barai (foot sweep), ashi means foot. Soku is the same kanji, with a different pronunciation. To means sword or knife, so use the edge of the foot, a location close to the heel. Sokuto is a very hard part of the body which can be used for stamping and thrusting movement. Snapping actions are not impossible.

Use the edge of the heel which is in direct alignment with your knee and hip: it's naturally stonger (and it's safer too).

The Digi Dojo - Shiyobui - Sokuto

you can never be sure without proper feedback...

Kick with the edge of your foot against the ground (be careful with any hard surface). You will feel instantly whether your foot is in the right position or not.


applications of sokuto

The Digi Dojo - Shiyobui - Application of Sokuto Gedan

Attack the inside of the knee.

Attack the inside of the knee. The angle of this picture is deliberate: the knee is weaker from that direction. Straight forward as you practise in basics is good for basics so you learn the correct alignment. For application, position your body so you can kick with alignment to the weak line.

The Digi Dojo - Shiyobui - Application of Sokuto Chudan

Attack the lower ribs, which are more vulnerable.

It is essential to use the edge of the foot. Practise A LOT to get your foot into the proper position else you'll kick with the bottom of your foot. That's OK if you don't want to hurt your opponent but.. If you want to create the folding effect as pictured, you need to stab with your foot and hit with the edge of the heel.

The Digi Dojo - Shiyobui - Application of Sokuto

Use your upper body to avoid your opponents attack.

This image from Wado No Michi may seem like a demonstration, but it's not to look cool. The purpose is to show that you can use the upper body to lean and avoid your opponents attack. For "Sokuto's sake" we both did Sokuto. Note that some instructors emphasise to keep straight up and some teach to lean like this for basics. Alignment is key and you can use this for application. 

sokuto instructional videos


Sokuto has a different mechanic than Maegeri and Mawashigeri.

Sokuto is a thrust, while Mae- and Mawashigeri are a hinge movement. This becomes increasingly difficult as you still should raise your knee as straight as possible in the beginning of the movement.

key points

Every kick has these specific key points

  • Pull your heel in as you raise the knee on centre line
  • Keep the body straight
  • Float your Kamae
  • Apply Hikiashi after you kick

Sokuto has certain specifics as well...


These are two specific key points from Sokuto (called Yokogeri in Shotokan)

  • Move the edge of the heel to the target in a straight line
  • Thrust kick with the edge of the heel

It's basically all you need to know for your performance, yet sometimes you want to dig deeper. See several performances and explanations from different angles. 


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