A lot of different martial arts employ the roundhouse kick: tae kwon do, karate, kenpo, hapkido, thai boxing, kung fu and there are probably a dozen others. Tae kwon do is a Korean martial art that involves a lot of kicking and the roundhouse or 'dolyo chagi' is one of the first kicks a beginning student learns. It is useful for a beginner because it isn't as technically challenging as some of the kicks you would learn later such as the hook kick or hurricane kick and you have pretty good odds of hitting a target since the kick forms a wide arc.

The technique for performing a roundhouse kick can be broken down into following steps:

  • Stand facing your target with your body turned about 45 degrees away, left foot in front, right foot behind you, feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Your body will almost be in profile to your target while you look over your left shoulder.
  • Bring your right knee up, the higher your knee, the higher you can kick, turning your body toward the target by pivoting your left foot away from the target, to your left.
  • Turn your right hip and allow your body to lean down and slightly to the left. Bring your right knee up parallel to your body. Keep you knee bent with your lower leg tucked against the back of your thigh, toes pointed away from your body. Whereas your left foot started out pointing straight in front of you, it is now turned 90 degrees to the left.
  • Snap your leg out, connecting with the target with the top of your foot.
  • Quickly pull your lower leg back into the tucked position.
  • Place your right foot back on the floor in front of you or behind, depending on whether you want to move forward or not.

This kick can also be used in drunken brawling, fighting like a girl, roughhousing, fisticuffs, ass-whooping, sissy fighting or a standard beat down, but research shows that these styles don't involve any particular technique.