Should A Black Belt Kick High?


So if you’re into martial arts in any way, you’ve likely heard someone at some stage say ‘black belts should be able to kick at head height’, or ‘They shouldn’t be a black belt, they can’t even kick high’.

It’s understandable, as the stereotypical black belt is borne from watching movies, that showcase talented athletic characters throwing awesome kicks and techniques. So naturally, the majority of non martial artists assume that this is what a martial artist is. And even plenty of martial arts instructors would agree. I don’t! But that’s just my humble opinion, take it or leave it. I’ll offer an explanation at least though…

If you equate being a ‘good’ Martial artist with being able to kick high, then what’s the point?

In all likelihood, how well will this skill serve you in the real world? It looks cool, but that’s about the extent of it. If you’re one of those whose primary reason for training is to learn effective self defence, well you don’t need to kick high to achieve that.

So then you might argue, no it’s not about the kick, it’s about the hard work and dedication that is required to achieve that kick! Ok great, that makes a bit more sense, but hang on a minute… if it’s the hard work and dedication that is most important, then can this not be shown in more ways than just kicking high?

What if a person suffers with a severe lack of flexibility, or they’re even disabled in some way? They put in years of hard work, they have a positive outlook and heavily influence others in the club in a positive way? Do you say no you can’t be a black belt, you can’t even kick high? Again, plenty of instructors would say this, and to each their own I guess.

For me it comes down to effort and attitude more than anything. As an instructor I asked myself, why am I doing this? What am I hoping to achieve by teaching martial arts? The answer to that is, I hope that my students will gain experience through their training that will make their lives better, and in turn will have a knock on affect to others lives. Kicking high won’t achieve that. Demanding high levels of effort and encouraging students to stay fit will. Educating students on the importance of team mentality and kindness, these traits will. And whilst flexibility can be lost, these learnings will last a lifetime, whether or not a student continues to train.

So should a black belt kick high? Well definitely keep working on it. But you should be judged on how you are trying to achieve it rather than whether you actually do!


Richard Miles

Chief Instructor

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