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Defensive tactics training: Defeating a front kick

The defensive move to counter the front kick not only turns the tables on your attacker, but it also upends the table on him

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Having been an active street cop for the entire 33 years of my police career, as well as an active police trainer for 43 years, in this series I share some of the defensive tactics techniques that helped me prevail on the street. The series presents a variety of defensive tactics in a format that allows you to follow the instructions and practice the technique. Remember practice makes prepared.

A very common attack on the street is the front kick. This is the most natural kick to deliver during an assault and it is often preferred because it is powerful and one does not need a black belt to master it.

Step One: Power Pivot

As the kick is delivered from your stance you should power pivot. Using your reaction foot as your post, pivot your strong foot (gun side) 180 degrees behind you and toward your reaction side. This will immediately put you off the line of attack and the foot should miss.


Pivot out of the line of attack.

Step Two: Hook

Your reaction side arm performs a scoop and hooks under the kicking leg as it passes, capturing it as your attacker begins to retrieve the kick. Re-enforce the capture with your strong arm. The assaultive suspect should now be standing on one foot while owing his balance to you.


Hook and capture the leg if possible as he retrieves his kick.

Step Three Option One: Lift and topple

After capturing the leg, your strong hand slides to the Achilles tendon and lifts the leg up until your attacker topples on to his back. He may have a tendency to roll quickly to his stomach.


You may lift the captured leg up to topple him or sweep the support leg to take him down.

Step Three Option Two: Sweep the leg

After capturing the kicking leg, use your reaction leg to sweep the support leg, taking your attacker to the ground. One advantage this technique has is that depending on how you sweep the leg you can choose whether he lands on his back or stomach.

Once your attacker is on the ground it is you who decides whether you control him on the ground, transition to one of your defensive tools, and/or disengage and give commands.


In a nutshell, the defense against the front kick is Pivot, Hook, Topple or Sweep. The good thing is that even if you don’t capture the leg, the pivot gets you out of the way of the attack.

The defensive move to counter the front kick, when performed properly, not only turns the tables on your attacker, but it also upends the table on him. To end with a pun, the counter keeps you from getting a kick out of law enforcement. As we used to say, “Pun spelled backwords is nup and that’s about anup out of me.”

Stay safe, stay strong and stay positive.

Photos by Anya Marcou. Techniques demonstrated by Lt. Dan Marcou and Aidan Marcou.

NEXT: Access Dan Marcou’s entire defensive tactics training series here

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter.

Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. He is the co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters.” His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and “Destiny of Heroes,” as well as two non-fiction books, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History” and “If I Knew Then: Life Lessons From Cops on the Street.” All of Lt. Marcou’s books are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.