A Karate Instructor Tried to Determine the Most Powerful Kick

YouTube’s Sensei Seth prides himself on his martial arts knowledge, having made numerous videos on topics like the accuracy of the karate portrayed in Netflix’s Cobra Kai, and how to incorporate elements of different martial arts into your fighting style. In his most recent video, he sets out to try and determine once and for all which style of kick is the most powerful, using a punctilious set of “highly scientific,” completely not-made-up criteria.

Seth starts out by measuring the “distance traveled” of each kick, placing a 25-pound ball on top of some stacked bags and tracking how far the ball rolls each time he hits it. A roundhouse kick sends it 18 feet, the front kick 14 feet, and the spinning rear kick 22 feet. The side kick wins the first round, with a total distance of 24 feet.

The second test is “stopping potential,” namely, a kick’s ability to stop a swinging punching bag. “Ideally, I think the more bounce the better,” says Seth. The roundhouse is “not too shabby,” although he also points out that “it’s not ideal for your hip, to stop something like that with your leg all the way out instead of pushing it.” The front kick is “way easier,” while the side kick is also strong, but the spinning rear kick wins this defensive category.

In an attempt to accumulate some more empirical evidence, Seth tries to measure the force of each technique on a “pounds per kick” basis, using the highly scientific method of… strapping a set of scales to a tree and kicking it. In a twist that absolutely nobody could have predicted, repeated kicks to the scales soon end up breaking the mechanism, rendering this particular round of the experiment null and void.

Finally, Seth attempts to measure the power of a kick in terms of sound, with another extremely rigorous experiment: he tapes a strip of bubblewrap to a punching bag, in order to see which kicking style creates the most popping. Unfortunately, this also proves to be an untenable method of gathering data, and Seth is left no closer to an answer than he was when he started—although he had a lot of fun doing it.

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