Vert Kicks in True Kick Terminology

Vertical kicks are a category of tricks characterized by staying upright while spinning, and performing any style of martial arts kick. Every vert kick uses one of three different takeoffs followed by some amount of spin, and has at least one kick upon or before landing. Kick tricks have been traditionally nicknamed after rotations, but Aeriform uses its own unique terminology which describes tricks by their characteristics. This system is known as "True Kick Terminology" or "TKT."

To define a vert kick you must track its position from beginning to end, which is done by observing its stance. There are two stances originating from traditional martial arts, known in tricking as "Backside" and "Frontside" (they are opposites set apart by 180 degrees.) To identify which stance is which you must know both the location of the target (the direction in which the kick is performed,) as well as the orientation (whether the spin occurs to the right or left.) In the following examples the target is the camera and the orientation is left. Use the gold button above to change between real life and animated example videos.

Terminology Index


An upright posture, defined by the hips being directly below the head.


A measure of position, used to define kicks and count rotation.


The direction in which a kick is performed.


The direction (right or left) in which vertical rotation is performed.


A method of jumping into a vert kick (Pop, Cheat, or Swing.)


Vertical spin achieved by changing stance.


Any martial arts style of kick or derivative thereof.


A kick which has been completed (returned to stance) while airborne.

Takeoff: Three Ways to Leave the Ground

To jump from both feet together is the standard takeoff, known as "Pop." Jumping from either the right or left leg first are alternates, called "Cheat" and "Swing" takeoff. Pop is distinct in that there is no extra movement to perform it; the alternate takeoffs both begin in one stance and move to the other in order to gather momentum into the jump. For this reason Cheat and Swing tricks are labelled with an extra 180° compared to Pop, to account for the movement that ocurrs while on the ground. All three takeoffs can begin from either stance, which means there is a way to Pop, Cheat, and Swing from either Backside or Frontside (six total takeoff positions.)

Counting Rotation from Takeoff to Landing

Because the stances are 180 degrees apart, we can use the difference between them to count rotation. Measuring from takeoff, each change between stances adds 180° continuously until the trick lands in either Backside or Frontside stance. A landing in Backside stance puts the left leg in position to attack the target, creating the first kick option known as "hook." A landing in Frontside stance instead leaves the performer's right leg in position to attack the target, called "round."

Upon execution of the actual kick there is an option to either bring the leg around and return to stance, or hold stance and leave it where it is (some transitions can only be performed with one option or the other.) When the kick is completed (returned to stance) while still in the air, the term hyper is added to the round or hook landings. Hyper kicks then imply an additional 180 degrees of rotation, and the nicknames "katana" and "shuriken" represent the "hyper round" and "hyper hook" kicks respectively. Think of katana as a round kick which has returned to Backside before landing, and shuriken as a hook already returned to Frontside.

Kick Tricks by Stance

With the knowledge of how vert kick tricks are defined, you can continue on to identify them in two sub-categories: Backside and Frontside kick tricks.