Martial artists utilize various kicks to throw off their opponents and inflict serious damage. However, there is an aesthetic beauty to martial arts that make a successful martial artist truly akin to an art master. Kicks are stylish and graceful, as they require a careful coordination of the entire body.

Many martial arts experts define beautiful kicks by the following criterion: usefulness; aesthetic beauty; minimum effort and maximum result; easiness in execution; and quick return to starting position. As we’ll see later, other criteria, such are rareness, emulation, and gracefulness are often considered in more advanced kicks.

By that criterion, the Mae-Geri kick could be considered one of the most beautiful kicks in all of martial arts. It is a very simple to execute kick and requires minimal effort. It is, essentially, a simple front kick. You throw your strong leg towards your opponent, while balancing on your other foot. Throw your arms up and back to balance and propel your leg forward. This creates a maximum result, while putting you in an easy recovery position.

The flying kick is a common move that is both aesthetically beautiful, relatively easy to execute, and effective. Basically, you run at your opponent, jump, and extend your strong foot towards them, while keeping your upper body in an erect position. The momentum of the body makes this a hard kick to defend. The speed, strength, and grace required to pull off this move also makes it beautiful.

However, there is something to be said about “rare” kicks. Rare kicks are often too hard or specific for regular use, but utilize true grace and technique. One of the most infamous of these kicks is the crane kick. This kick was popularized in the “Karate Kid” movies, but is an aesthetically beautiful kick.

Basically, you stand on one foot, lifting your other foot in the air. Your arch your arms in the air like a crane neck, and wait for the opponent to attack. Once they come towards you, you drop to your foot and kick up towards the face with the other leg. It is rare to see this kick in real fighting circumstances. However, UFC fighter Lyoto Machida recently used it to knock out Randy Couture.

The scorpion kick is another “rare” kick that mimics the natural beauty and grace of a wild animal. The scorpion kick requires a lot of careful balance and strength, and mimics advanced yoga moves. Since it is hard to pull off, it is rarely used in self defense situations. However, it is too graceful and beautiful not to include.

You start by standing on one leg and lifting the other leg in the air, creating “splits” in the air. You then curve the top of your lifted leg downward, like a scorpion tail. Masters of the scorpion kick can pivot on their planted foot effectively. The scorpion kick can be used to attack the face, but is more of a display move than a real defensive attack.