540 kick Cliff Notes in 100 words
The 540 kick is a tornado kick landed on the kicking leg. You jump, kick, and land all on the same leg. The average novice can learn this trick within a one to four month time span. Start by drilling inside crescent kicks and tornado kicks. Increase your flexibility. Experiment with the takeoff and kick style (roundhouse or inside crescent). Watch 540 video clips and emulate what you see. Progress into trying to land the 540 while keeping your kicking leg bent (bent knee 540 kick). Train both the tornado kick and bent knee 540 until you succeed. Don't give up!
How to 540 kick video:
The 540 kick's legacy
These days when everybody is spamming dubs and each new attempt at creating a tricking logo involves some retarded silhouette of an arched flash kick, the 540 kick still serves as the history and foundation of tricking. It's the original gateway trick. The king of kicking tricks. I will go so far as to say it's the king of ALL tricks. It's the classic. It's violent. It's the cork killer.
The 540 kick is the foundation for what?
The kick in this trick isn't the foundation for other tricks so much as the setup. The 540 kick uses what is called a cheat setup, and most tricksters begin building their cheat setup through the training of the 540 kick. Even if you learn an unorthodox version of the cheat setup, the confidence boost you'll attain from learning the 540 kick is enough to propel you into the tricking world. It really is a gateway trick.
How to 540 kick step by step:
Training the 540 kick:
Drill your round kicks, inside crescent kicks, spin hook kicks, and tornado kicks. Increase your flexibility. Play and experiment with different setups. Work on the 540 kick with a bent kicking leg to help understand the motion. You can even try this move on your other side to help figure out how your technique on your good side is evolving. Be sure to study videos and get a feel for it through the viewings. Be patient, the 540 kick can take awhile to nail, especially if its your first trick. If you learn it quickly, it could still take awhile to get it to look good. The 540 kick took me about 6 months to land, and another 6 months to make it look decent.
Studying the 540 kick:
A neat way to study the 540 kick is to pay attention to just one thing at a time. Try paying attention only to the upper body. Then do the same for the non-kicking leg only, ignore everything but that one limb, look only at that one limb and see what it does by itself. Continue looking for motions and patterns this way by process of reduction. Study other tricks this way too.
Bonus tip: Watch an entire tricking video this way. Go watch a Vellu sampler and pay attention to only his upper body throughout the entire video (Vellu especially). It's a really cool way to study tricking videos!
540 kick variations:
Setups: There is a side-2-side setup (usually preceded by a hook kick to create whip), a forward step through (what you keep seeing me do), and a run up (Wushu). Most people use the side-2-side setup with the hook kick.
Kicks: You can do a round kick (chamber your kicking leg then SNAP it into extension), or an inside crescent (what I keep doing).
Related tricks: Parafuso, sideswipe, laydown 540, jackknife.
Secret 540 kick training tips and things to try!
Do bent knee 540 kicks. I've mentioned this more than once already. The tornado kick and the 540 kick have different hip motions. Your tornado kick will not magically turn into a 540 kick if you're just drilling the Tornado kick. You must learn the hip motion of the 540 kick, and the best way to do that is to throw 540 kicks with your kicking leg bent.
Try exaggerating the side to side motion. Don't use your arms to get you up, instead, slice your arms across and coil them back inside tight against your torso as if you're doing a jump 720 spin. Watch the beginning of this short video, notice that I'm (in a weird way) trying to feel out the side to side motion before 540'ing. Practicing the 540 like this will help you to understand that this trick has a lot in common with twisting tricks, and can benefit from the same type of approach. This way of training tricks by process of elimination is described in more detail on this paocess of elimination is described in more detail on this page.
Try wrapping your arm low. Notice in the slides above that my right arm is kind of hooking down, and my right shoulder is coming across when I get up in the air. I find this helps tremendously. Also try to bend your right wrist downward as you do this, for some reason that helps me a alot, it may help you too.
Experiment with the way you use your shoulders and arms to jump up. I believe there is an optimal height at which you should raise your arms in the 540 kick. I used to just toss them up as high as I could, but now I think that was a bit of a waste. Inevitably you have to wrap them back in, if you throw your arms up too high that makes wrapping more difficult. These days, I like to focus simply on creating side-2-side torque with my arms, throwing them into a martial arts guard position. Also, it's easier to hit the happy medium if you think about bringing your body up to meet your arms and shoulders, if you keep this in mind you'll be less likely to wildly throw them up.
With that said, if you don't dig and use your upper body to create height you'll be short changing your airtime. So your homework is to experiment by doing some 540 kicks with a HUGE and HIGH toss of the arms and shoulders, and doing some 540s where you focus only on side-2-side torque. Mix the two until you find the sweet spot.
Try generating the extra spins when the kick is on its way down, rather than when your kick is crossing its target. For gyro'ing or ensuring adequate spin on any 540. Wait late. Delay. Stall before gyro'ing. I find this is a better way to do it than trying to jerk a few extra spins out of a 540 when the kick is only beginning to head upward.
Try doing the 540 kick without a kick. It's important to make the path for the kick, don't make the path with the kick. To do this, you need a strong set. Subtracting the kick and keeping the set is one idea for training the setup. It'll end up being a weird tornado kick, or a kick'less tornado kick!
Try to consciously maintain motion of both legs throughout the entire trick. I've found that my 540 kick is weaker when I throw the first leg up, and then forget about it while kicking over it. Instead, try creating a complete motion with the non-kicking leg. If you throw that first leg up, point its toes, bring that leg all the way across, arch it underneath you and turn that ankle (the left ankle) outward in an effort to continue the motion, the entire trick becomes much stronger. See the previous tip too.
Try to identify pause moments in your 540 kick and eliminate them. This is related to the tip above. See if you can recognize micro moments during the trick at which a limb, muscle, or movement ceases or stalls to wait for something else (usually waiting for the kicking leg). Then substitute that pause with a whole motion that starts and finishes. Meaning: Your entire body in motion during the 540 kick the entire time. For some things (your head) this tactic isn't feasible, but for others (the leading arm) it could be just what you needed!
Some problems you might encounter:
"I don't understand the setup." You don't need to understand it, just keep putting in the reps and you'll feel it out. Do this by sampling different setups. Try 540s with a spin hook kick before it. Try step throughs. I actually learned mine with an inside crescent before stepping through! (see the first clip of the exampler video at the very top of the page. I was dependent upon that first inside crescent for months.)
"I just can't seem to get the non-kicking leg high enough?" Try something other than trying to get the non-kicker up, such as trying to let it lay low while focusing on bringing it more across.
"I seem to travel in the other direction of my kick. I kick with my right leg, and I move sideways to my right at the same time. How do I fix this?" Fix this by stepping OVER. FURTHER. In the direction you are kicking and keeping the integrity of the momentum that motion gives you intact. Simply place the base foot farther over and commit. This happens on many other cheat setup kicks too, and it happens because of a lack of commitment to the technique. So if you are kicking with your right leg, place it farther to your left side when jumping. And commit to the digging down of the setup motion.
"When I gyro, my body is slanted a bit, how do you stay straight?" Try wrapping lower and placing your kicking leg further down after the kick before looking over your shoulder to generate spin. If you look over your shoulder to start the gyro too early (when the kick isn't on the descent), you'll slant. It's a common problem.
The 540 was my first trick! It took me six months to land and a year to polish. The first few months I drilled the crap out of it several days a week in my garage, but I didn't get anywhere. I thought I just had to land a tornado kick on my kicking leg. WRONG! I had to learn to get my hips up in the way a 540 kick requires, which is different from the way a tornado kick requires. I wasn't opening the path for the kicking leg to travel through. When I started doing bent knee 540 kicks, wonders started happening. I started landing 540s soon after, and I never lost it after that.