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Tornado Kicks (also called Whirl Kicks) come in many versions. Among the most common are:

  • 360 Tornado Kick
  • 540 Tornado Kick
  • 720 Tornado Kick

The difference between these kicks is in the number of body rotations. In taekwondo the 360 and 540 kicks are often done as Roundhouse Kicks (striking the target with the top of the foot), but variations of these kicks can also be done as Crescent Kicks (striking the target with the inside of the foot) and Hook Kicks (striking the target with the back of the heel).

It is a common misconception that (for example) a 360 kick means the entire 360 rotation is performed while in the air. In fact, for all of these kicks, at least the first 180 degrees of rotation are done will still standing on the ground, as you rotate your body to build-up rotational momentum. In fact, for a 360 kick, only the last few degrees of rotation are achieved after jumping into the air. See the diagrams below for additional detail.

Tornado Kick

360 Tornado KickEdit

How to Do a Tornado Roundhouse Kick Taekwondo Training01:29

How to Do a Tornado Roundhouse Kick Taekwondo Training

Tornado Kick Hurricane Kick 360 Kick02:47

Tornado Kick Hurricane Kick 360 Kick

This is the most basic version of the Tornado Kick. The body spins through 360 degrees. For this description we'll assume that you're right-legged, so that your left leg is forward when you're in your kicking stance. That means you'll be spinning to the leftward. We'll also assume in this description that you're doing a Roundhouse Tornado Kick.

  • Start facing forward in the Kicking Stance. Your target is straight in front of you.
  • Take a full step forward with your right leg as if going into a Walking Stance, but facing left as compared to your original starting position, and with your fists still chambered for kicking.
  • You're going to be spinning now on your right leg, so your weight should be on the balls of your right foot (not the heel).
  • Look back over your left shoulder. Begin to lift your left knee into the air, with the left shin still pointed downward. So at this point you're standing on just your right leg, looking back over your left shoulder.
  • While still pivoting on the right leg, crouch a bit on  your right leg as your left knee comes around to point at your target. Continue to lift the left knee, to provide additional upward momentum.
  • Jump high into the air using just your right leg.
  • At the top of your jump, as you're once again facing your target, hit the target with a Roundhouse Kick with your right leg.
  • Your right foot should hit the target before you land on your left leg. 
Tornado360

540 Tornado KickEdit

How to Do a Bolley Kick Taekwondo Training02:07

How to Do a Bolley Kick Taekwondo Training

The 540 Tornado is also sometimes called a Bolly Kick, Volley Kick, or Tiger Kick. The main difference between the 360 kick and the 540 kicks is which leg you land on. 

  • For the 360 kick, you land on the non-kicking-leg.
  • For the 540 kick, you land on the kicking leg.

In both cases you launch yourself into the air from the kicking leg. Another way to think of this is that for the 540 kick, the kicking leg will pass over the non-kicking-leg during the kick. Because you are landing on the kicking leg, you will be facing away from the target as you land, which means you rotated an extra 180 degrees during the kick. 360 + 180 = 540, hence the name of the kick. Assuming a right-handed kicking stance:

  • As before, step forward with the right foot to begin spinning leftward.
  • Launch off your right leg to jump into the air.
  • As with the 360, you kick with your right leg.
  • After the kick, your right leg will pass over your left leg.
  • And unlike the 360, here you land on your right leg, facing away from the target.

The 540 is usually performed as either a roundhouse (striking with the top of the foot) or a crescent kick (striking with the inside of the foot).

Tornado540

720 Tornado KickEdit

The main difference between a 720 kick and the previous kicks is that you kick with the non-launching leg. For example, if you launch with the right leg, you'll kick with the left leg. Because you're spinning leftward and kicking with your left leg, you can't really do a Roundhouse for the 720. You can do an Outward Crescent Kick or a Hook Kick though...anything that strikes with the back or outside of the left foot.

Assuming a right-handed kicking stance:

  • As before, go into the kick by spinning leftward on the right leg, and pushing into the air with the right leg.
  • After launching, throw the right leg around leftward to help increase your angular momentum.
  • As you approach the top of your jump, extend the right leg downward to prolong your hang time.
  • As you come around once more to face your target, chamber the left leg for the kick.
  • Kick the target with your left leg, then land on your right leg. Usually you'll have so much angular momentum still at work that even after your landing your body will continue to pivot on the right foot.
Tornado720

Comparison of Kicks Edit

The following table summarizes the differences between 360, 540, and 720 kicks. In principle all of these kicks have similar launches, but of course the devil is in the details: the amount of rotational momentum you need to generate leading up to the launch varies dramatically, as does the height of the jump.

360 Tornado 540 Tornado 720 Tornado
Starting position: Facing the target Facing the target Facing the target
Ending position: Facing the target Your back to the target Facing the target
Number of rotations: One rotation One and a half rotations Two rotations
Assuming a Kicking Stance where the right leg is back...
Launch with:
Launch with the right leg Launch with the right leg Launch with the right leg
Kick with:
Kick with the right leg Kick with the right leg Kick with the left leg
Land on:
Land on the left leg Land on the right leg Land on the right leg
Tornado Comparison

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