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There are many disciplines within the martial arts, each with very specific techniques. These techniques are designed not only for their effectiveness, but for your safety as well. Instructional martial arts videos can compliment your training and studies.
Take TaeKwon-Do for example. In this martial art, kicks use either the ball of the foot or the heel for impact. If the proper technique is not observed or the aiming of a strike is off, you can end up with a broken ankle or toe.
In Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing from Thailand, the shin is your weapon. Landing a Muay Thai kick with the top of the foot or ankle could do more damage to you than your target.
Take a look at some Muay Thai and TaeKwon-Do videos online, and you can see up close (without any physical damage) how these strikes are meant to be used. Knowing these techniques in advance and why they are so important can help you employ them during training and competition. It can also eliminate some common trial-by-error injuries that hamper the progress of beginners.