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Tae Kwon Do by Peta and Kha

We're black belts in Tae Kwon Do. And with an upcoming competition, we wanted to figure out how to improve our kicks. So we asked: What makes a strong kick?

What did we do?
We investigated two different foot positions for a side kick. The first position was parallel to the kick, with the foot at 6 o'clock and the target at 12. The second position was perpendicular to the kick, with the foot at 9 o'clock and the target at 12. Then, to understand our balance, we used a high tech foot pressure pad linked to a computer. The computer showed where we were putting the most pressure on our feet.

What did we find out?
We discovered that putting our feet in the 6 o'clock position gave us much more power. In the 9 o'clock position, the foot pressure pad showed that we had the most pressure on the side of our feet. But with the stronger kick at 6 o'clock, we had more pressure on our heels and the balls of our feet. We then looked at the anatomy of a leg. We concluded that different muscles are used with different foot positions. The 9 o'clock kick used the abductor muscles, while the 6 o'clock kick used the bigger quad, hamstring and calf muscles.

Foot position Kick power Foot power Muscles used
6:00 More power in kick Toes and balls of feet Quadriceps, hamstring & calf
9:00 Less power in kick Outer edge of foot Abductor

What about the competition? Peta took home the winning medal and the whole gang had a great time!

What can you do?
  • Try checking out your foot position in your favorite sport. How about soccer? Does it matter where you position your feet when you kick a soccer ball? Set up some tests. Try kicking so your toe hits the ball, then try it with the inside of your foot hitting the ball. Is there a difference in the kick? Why would you use one kick over the other?
  • Are you into martial arts? Can you think of another investigation? How about measuring the strength of a punch? Or how fast you move?
  • Our kids used a high tech foot pressure pad. But can you think of another way to measure balance? Would the experiment work if the kids used an ink pad and looked at the impression their foot left?
  • Use this human body investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
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