Training Warriors for the 21st Century

Training Warriors for the 21st Century
Joong Do Kwan Traditional Taekwondo cross training with Kidokwan Perth

5 Apr 2013

Slagging MMA Kicks

Taekwondo gets slagged all the time.

And while I constantly make the distinction that not all Taekwondo is the Taekwondo I do, sometimes I look at who's doing the heckling and I wonder why some people aren't getting some of their own medicine back.

Today, let's slag MMA kicks. :-) Specifically the roundhouse kick taken from Muay Thai. Muay Thai exponents do them and they are purportedly the most powerful kicks out there. So everyone does them. But not everyone is a Muay Thai practitioner. And therefore not everyone is really doing the kick quite as nicely as a Muay Thai guy would do.

You know what I mean. Go to most any MMA competition and see how the roundhouse kick is done. Then compare it to the real deal in a Muay Thai competition. The MMA roundhouse kick is most likely the practitioner swinging the leg towards the opponent. It's a flail with little control. I'm not saying there's no power, but when you see a floppy foot, or an uncontrolled drop at the end of the kick - that's a far cry from the devastating roundhouse that you see from a Muay Thai practitioner.

Check out this following video to see how a Muay Thai kick is really delivered!

I included that first video of a MMA guy doing a roundhouse kick randomly picked from Youtube. To be fair to him, he's not doing a bad job. There is some control appropriate for the amount of power generation. And I like it that he demonstrated the kick at all three levels. But he's still looking a bit awkward using his upper body to pick the leg up from the ground and could increase his hip strength to improve this extraneous movement.

Why stop at slagging poorly done MMA roundhouse kicks. Let's look at the karate roundhouse kick - the mawashigeri. In fact, I really like the short range mawashigeri - it's one of my favourite kicks as it creates loads of power with a good amount of subterfuge. The short range mawashigeri folds the leg in a tight space, uses body compression to generate power and unleashes a very devastating kick in a small space.

The following video however is karate training methodology taken a little too far - let's fold and chamber the knee all the way around so everyone can see it coming. Chambering the knee at a height where you're going to deliver it but off at a 90 degree bearing to the target means you are not using the beautiful rotational/circumferential momentum that a roundhouse kick relies on. What am I talking about? Just draw a straight line from your foot to the target - the more deviation away from that line, the more inefficient is the kick. Of course there is that one tactical problem of letting the opponent see the kick coming from a mile away too.

Long range roundhouse kicks are swung using the body as a counterweight. The body is turned away in order for the leg to be swung around. The hips are the fulcrum and rotate in order for the leg to reach out. Check out yet the following random video I took off youtube.

One key success factor which Master Wu doesn't really talk about is to not to displace the centre of gravity too far backward. Many beginners lean back too much to try and get that lift happening in their kick.. In fact, one of the best points of the first MMA video is that the guy steps toward his opponent before throwing the kick at mid-range. Now I'm not saying that stepping in diagonally is the best way to initiate a kick, but it is a good tactical move to generate solid power and is fine for a sportive exchange.

The next key success factor is to not use the swinging of your hands to try and raise the legs. Who has seen a roundhouse kick coming? Everyone. Well, it's up to you to stop telegraphing. Develop your leg and hip muscles but kicking the air, kicking shields and kicking the bag. Do it slowly. Do it fast. Kick targets lightly. Switch off light switches with your toe. Get control over the leg and you'll be able to pull it off so smoothly the opponent won't see it coming until it's speeding up and crossing the gap!

Happy to get come backs from any MMA/Karate guys out there.

For an interesting article on the subject check out Stuart Anslow's The Differences Between Karate's Roundhouse Kick & Taekwondo's Turning Kick.

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
Founder The SuperParents A Team
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