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The Flying Side Kick

Updated: Apr 12

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The Flying Side Kick Poster

Throughout Black Belt's illustrious 63-year history, the flying sidekick has remained among the most revered techniques, the flying side kick first appeared in 1965 and the last in 2014. Earning a place of honor as one of the standout moves performed by the masters and champions featured on magazine covers. In this tribute, we honor the trailblazing pioneers who flawlessly executed this unforgettable maneuver, leaving an indelible imprint on the martial arts landscape. Their expertise and unwavering commitment have solidified the flying sidekick as an enduring symbol of martial arts excellence, inspiring practitioners and enthusiasts across generations.

Black Belt Mag Articles

flying side kick

Gordon Doversola flying side kick breaks boards held by Hollywood actor Beau Vanden Ecker known for Hawaii Five-O. The cover of the 15th issue of Black Belt, March 1965 had a photograph of Doversola executing a flying side kick in an Okinawa-te demonstration. According to Doversola, Okinawa-te is thought to have originated with martial arts brought to the Ryukyu Islands from China. Because the Japanese did not allow the locals to practice fighting, they developed methods that seemed harmless but were designed to counter Japanese martial arts and used weapons derived from farm implements.

The black and white masterpiece was shot by Oliver Pang and it's the first time the flying side kick was seen on the cover of the March 1965 edition of Black Belt Magazine. 

flying side kick

The caption reads “The flying side kick Yoko Tobi Geri one of karate's most devastating surprise attacks, also rates high as an effective counter attack to the side of an opponent's neck."

The November 1965 cover credits the style of the kick from Shotokan karate and at the time Black Belt commissioned artists to render their interpretation of the art, this credit goes to C. Voss.

Black Belt Mag cover

Before his rise as a karate mogul, Jeff Smith commanded respect as one of the most formidable tournament fighters nationwide, earning the moniker "DC Bomber." Transitioning from tournament karate, he cemented his legacy as one of the greatest full-contact kickboxers in history. This pivotal moment captures his Korean Taekwondo roots and training under Jhoon Rhee as he launches into the air against a then-young John Worley, who would later establish himself as one of the era's most distinguished champion, teacher and promoter of the famed Diamond Nationals. No photo credit was given for this cover printed in December of 1972.

flying side kick

Korean-born Taekwondo master, movie star, and champion Byong Yu established his legacy in Northern California before moving on to Los Angeles to pursue film and teaching. At the time of the photo he was only 38 years old but the article called him a “geriatric” and pointed to his age as a factor to continue as a competitor. Judging by the technique they were wrong. This 1973 cover features his Moo Duk Kwan-style Taekwondo kick against Jimmy Kim. Photo credit Ed Ikuta.

flying side kick

We know him as the menacing O'Hara from "Enter the Dragon." The guy with the scar across his face, and later fights Bruce Lee in the legendary garden final scenes. Bob Wall was a Korean stylist-trained martial artist who studied with Chuck Norris, here he demonstrates the flying sidekick photo taken by Ed Ikuta, vintage January 1974. 

flying side kick

In what might be one of the most famous silhouette side kick photos of all time, Joe Lewis and Louie Rafti pose against the sun. Photo shot by David M. King for the March 1977 cover.

Black belt mag cover

On his fourth magazine cover, the headline asks: "The Next Bruce Lee?" Chuck Norris has forged his unique journey as a movie and TV star and a global ambassador for martial arts. This era marked his emergence onto the movie scene, following years of dominating tournament karate. In this captivating image, he's pictured with his brother Aaron taking the kick and showcasing his signature tang soo do flying side kick. Photograph by David M. King 1977.

jo bang lee

There is only one 10th Dan Black Sash in each generation who is given the title of “Dojoonim”. Grandmaster Jo Bang Lee is the 58th generation holder of the title as the keeper of the knowledge of the Ancient Hwarang Knights.

He is recognized as the Founder of Hwa Rang Do as a modern martial art as he was the first to systemize the martial skills of the Ancient Hwarang Knights as a modern martial art system for the first time in Korean History, officially registering it in the Republic of Korea in 1960. 

The 1979 cover featured Joe Bang Lee flying side kick against five cement blocks photo by Ed Ikuta.

Salem Assli

Salem Assli demonstrates the flying side kick French style. The 1989 cover story said it all “Is Savate the best style for the street?" The French kicking art is pretty but also deadly, don't be deceived by the aesthetic flowing appearance, Savate can be highly effective in the ring or the street, pretty but it's very deadly. It is the Savage Savate for the streets. Cover shot by Doug Churchill.

Jim Gott

LA Dodger Jim Gott, the Hapkido stylist, went to the mound at Dodger Stadium for this cover.

Photo captured by long-time staff photographer Doug Churchill November 1993.

cynthia rothrock flying side kick

The five-time undefeated world forms Champion Cynthia Rothrock shows off her style from her years of training that included Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, Eagle Claw Kung Fu, and Wu Shu but for this cover, it's all out Hollywood with signature black boots. The 1995 cover was shot by a living legend of martial arts photography Doug Churchill.

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Christine Bannon Rodrigues

Kenpo and Wushu stylist Christine Bannon Rodrigues, 9th degree Black Belt under famed Don Rodrigues (former nine-time world karate champion), the blazing red gi flying side kick was captured by Doug Churchill for the August 2000 issue.

benny urquidez flying side kick

Simply known as "Benny the Jet" to millions, one of his many but very memorable covers features the Jet in a flying side pose. Urquidez has had training in nine styles including Judo, Kajukenbo, Shotokan, Taekwondo, Lima Lama, White Crane Kung Fu, Jujutsu, Aikido, and American Kenpo. He is the founder of Ukidokan Karate. Captured in 2014 by Robert Reiff photographer. This was the last flying side kick to appear on the cover of Black Belt Magazine

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