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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Ørjan Nilsen said…
What?? No hate comments or anything? You know you just "slagged" the MMA and you are a TMA martial artist Colin.. I think my admiration for you just skyrocketed:D

Nice post. What strikes me when looking at the Thai Roundhouse is that they are using the shin as a striking tool yes, but the sparring team at Chosun University in Korea did not kick very much different when they kicked for power shots. I guess that a powerfull roundhouse kick is a powerfull roundhouse kick no matter what the "style".

We have allready seen the inclusion of the Karate/ Taekwondo front kick (suddenly we got 3 knockouts in a few weeks time) and everyone was so suprised.. I saw it and thought, finally someone who managed to incorporate the front kick correctly:-) I do not think it will be long before the fighter become at such a high level that we will see great technical kicks as in Taekwondo incorporated too. Maybe in a few years "everyone" will try to kick as in Taekwondo:) If they do, you first read about it here:p

Dan Djurdjevic said…
Excellent post Colin. I've been holding back the rage at those floppy feet as I watch MMA kicks in slow motion. It's about time someone said something!
Mir said…
As always I enjoyed your posting, and love to see how you bring out specific instructional details.

I'd like to add a little comment on the following from a Karate practioner's point of view.

"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."

The video that you are watching is a training (exercise) video where the movements are pronounced, and exaggerated on purpose. It is to build muscle, and strength, by asking the body to go farther, and longer than necessary. It is expected that once the actual technique is used in a stressed situation the body will collapse the movement, and become smaller, and more contained.

Here is a video of Sensei Artur Hovannisian teaching about Mawashi Geri. You can see how the Kick sets and rotates quite clearly by his wonderful strength, and balance:
Potatoe Fist said…
As always I'm caught off guard for something I've been doing, but didn't really question. At my TSD class we chamber in the most rediculous fashion. The thigh is parallel to the floor. People definitely know what I am going to do and it wastes a lot of time. However, I thought it was to get me to practice good form. At fight night a lot of the good form disappears. The TKD guys in class practice a "from the floor" stle of kick which was fast as hell, but just didn't carry a lot of impact.

Good stuff.
Colin Wee said…
First off - I haven't seen Potatoe Fist in a long while here ... so welcome back, my friend.

Second ... it takes a lot to reevaluate what you've been fed all throughout your training. Sometimes you need to hang back and look at your assumptions. To assess what you're doing with your techniques.

It took me a long while to analyse many of my basic stuff. The reason why is that you think it's basic ... so you don't even question whether you're doing them right.

Things like How to Hit a Strike Post ... while looking like it's meh-another-19-min video, took me years and years to arrive at. LOL. Now I give it away for free.

Good to have you hear, my friend.


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