Updated: Apr 27
People have been getting kicked in the head since time in memorial. In the pro-wrestling ring, “Gentleman” Chris Adams is widely crediting to being the first recorded kicking an opponent with a high or thrust kick. A well-travelled veteran, Adams toured the world learning quickly and working hard to discover new martial arts techniques in Japan, better wrestling technique in Germany, strength and conditioning in UK before making the move to America, bringing the superkick he had mastered and named with him. The move was popularised when Chris Adams became famous for his run with World Class Championship Wrestling in the early 80’s. Where Adam’s faced off against the Great Kabuki, who also has a variant of the thrust kick. At the time fans scrambled to the arena and argued over who’s kick was the original and who’s was better.
Pro Wrestling Wiki states: “A Superkick is the name used when referring to a high side thrust kick attack in wrestling, which sees the wrestler use the sole of the foot to strike an opponent's head or chin, usually preceded by a sidestep, often referred to as a Crescent Kick, or just a Side kick.”
The superkick’s inventor, Chris Adams was a bonafide martial arts expert and a black belt in Judo.
Dating back many centuries martial arts such as Taekwondo, which is especially focused of kicking proficiency as well as karate, Muay Thai and certain types of kung-fu and Sikaran in the Philippines.
There is also a heavy focus on kicking your foe in French system Savate, which literally translates to “old-shoe” and has been around since the 1700s.
Not to mention, countless other kick-boxing variants. MY point, that trained experts have been attempting to punt one-another into oblivion since before we kept track of records.
There is something extremely visceral and brutal about the act of a kick. The power and strength.
Perhaps you’ve never been unfortunate enough to find yourself in this predicament, but still as a fan of wrestling you can really empathise with the the thought of someone smashing you in the mouth with the soul of their foot.
Chris Adams adapted the move and used it to great success throughout his career in professional wrestling.
During the mid-1980’s Gentleman Chris Adams taught the move to a young grappling student whilst training in Texas.
The superkick’s most famous proponent The Heart-Break Kid, Shawn Michaels.
His Sweet Chin Music variant, saw the WWE Hall Of Famer ‘tuning up the band’ throughout his iconic run between the ropes.
He’d hit his opponent with his classic inverted atomic drop, then in big matches, head to the top turnbuckle to deliver an elbow drop.
Then as the dazed foe scrambled to regain composure, Michaels would slap his foot down and the crowd would scream and cheer each time HBK’s sole touched the canvas.
Before delivering the more often than not match deciding blow.
The Sweet Chin Music, sweetly placed, on the chin, to the music of the crowd. Perfection.
OTHER MEDIA AROUND THE WORLD
The same could be said for kicks in film and television, manga and video games.
In anime, the thrust kick is used commonly in situations of hand to hand combat, often with it’s own ridiculous spin, jumping from great heights, kicking the enemy high into the atmosphere and other such ridiculous but entertaining situations so fitting for this type of Japanese creation.
Video games, especially fighting games contain numerous kicking variants and inevitably some characters have used the superkick to great effect over the past 30 years of button-mashing, friendship-testing, side-scrolling combat-games.
From Street Fighter, and it’s many devastating kicks. Mortal Kombats brain-damaging and ultra graphic versions. To my personal favourite.
The ultra hunky Hwoarang in the Tekken series. Graceful yet powerful, this red-headed martial artist’s speed in which he can chain together superkick’s was always my first pick as a kid.
Shawn Michaels made the move so popular everyone wanted in on the action.
We’ve had Canadian legend Lance Storm’s typically no-nonsense versions in ECW, WCW & WWE. Stevie Richards of Right To Censor Fame had a version he rarely won with.
Tajiri The Japanese Buzzsaw has had a career far spanning numerous promotions around the globe. Despite his diminutive stature, Tajiri was effective with his needle like super kick.
Justin Credible, Marty Jannetty and Johny Morison have all used a high-kick move as a finisher in USA.
In Japan where martial arts is more a part of the history and culture of it’s people, kicks were much more common in wrestling in the past. Today, most wrestler’s have some kicks in their arsenal and some use the superkick in evolved and adapted ways.
The Elite, in New Japan & now AEW push the boundaries of wrestling over the last decade. Their superkick party involved numerous repeated and tandem superkicks which has proven to divide fans on the authenticity of the move, however it’s popularity and ability to ignite a crowd is undeniable.
Shawn Michaels Cousin Michael Shane, get it. Even used the superkick when it got famous calling his version hilariously “The Sweet Shane Music” but was told to sod off and change it by WWE’s lawyers.
My personal favourite superkick variant, comes from my beloved Mick Foley during his time as a foil to the mega popular Shawn Michaels, with his parody character Dude Love, a direct response to Michaels lady-killing, ultra-sexualised persona.
At this time Mick Foley would similarly “tune up the band” as the crowd had come to expect before Michaels version, before kicking them unexpectedly low in the leg with the “Sweet Shin Music”.
And that is why I love wrestling.