In Shotokan, Ushiro Geri is a kick that is executed when the karate-ka (athlete) rotates around a fixed vertical axis and pushes their foot in the direction parallel to the floor, with both the heel or sole of the foot reaching the target. During the rotation, the most important part is keeping the balance and athletes must be trained on this.
For Karate athletes, balance is kept differently from a tightrope walker who uses the hands to keep their balance: athletes often keep their hands in the guard position (kamae). Therefore, the hands are mostly still and all of the athlete’s attention is focused on the center of gravity (which, for a human body, is slightly different from what you read in physics). There is a group of muscles in the human body which not only strengthens the human body, but also makes it possible for athletes to keep the maximum amount of balance during daily activities. This group of muscles is called the pillar and includes the tranversis abdominis muscle, internal obliques, lumbar multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm and transverspinalis. These muscles provide stability to all movements. The more stable the core, the more powerful the movement will be.
In order to perform Ushiro Geri perfectly, one needs a strong transversus abdominis muscle. Strengthening this muscle prevents the upper body from bending, and it also helps prevent the gap between both legs because it helps stabilise the core, which allows the legs to move closer along a straight line. This means that the karate-ka uses his pillar and centralises his movements in order to execute Ushiro Geri to the right target.
Written by Farzad Youshanlou