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A roundhouse kick (also known as a round kick or turning kick) is a kick in which the attacker swings his leg around in a semicircular motion, striking with the front of the leg or foot. This type of kick is utilized in many different martial arts and is popular in both non-contact and full-contact martial arts competitions. The kick has many variations based on stance, leg movement, striking surface, and the height of the kick.
Karate has many different methods of delivering their roundhouse kick (Mawashi geri). The original method involved bringing up the knee, and then swiftly turning the hip over and snapping the leg outwards from the knee to deliver a strike with the ball of the foot. The ball of the foot was believed to be more effective and less dangerous than other methods.
As the years have gone by, some Karate dojo also practice kicking roundhouse kick with the shin, another point of contact is with the instep (for safety).
There are now more and more karateka practicing the 'cutting roundhouse kick'; this is where the karateka will lift their attacking leg higher than the intended target, they will then execute the kick in a downward cutting movement. Practitioners consider it a very effective method against the thigh.
This was later supplemented in Masutatsu Oyama's Kyokushin karate with a similar technique, using the instep and using more rotation of the hip, as well as sinking the weight of the kicker into the target, to create more bludgeoning power. The target of this kick was primarily the neck. Oyama also taught roundhouse kicks to the thigh and ribs, using the shin as the point of contact.