Leg Kick Defense in Mixed Martial Arts

The Devastating Leg Kick

Urijah Faber's leg after taking some devastating leg kicks from Jose Aldo

Urijah Faber’s leg after taking some devastating leg kicks from Jose Aldo

Getting kicked in the legs is never fun, but in a fight it can be very harmful to let it go unchecked. There are many different things that leg kicks can do, all of which are detrimental. First of all your legs are your base, without your base you will crumble, simple as that. Powerful leg kicks can knock you off balance and lead to takedowns or knockouts. 

Leg kicks don’t have to have a knockout outcome to be effective either. Leg kicks cause serious pain to and eventually, after accumulating over multiple strikes, can seriously slow down the receiver. This can mean slower movement around the ring and slower reaction speed to strikes. In addition to this your striking power and explosiveness take a blow as well, no pun intended, because these attributes all derive their power from the legs.

Now Defending against the Kick

Defending against the leg kick involves not allowing your opponent to kick your thigh while maintaining your balance to be prepared for counters or follow up strikes. One thing to take heed of is that if you lean or step into the kick it will not have nearly as much power behind it. This can also give opportunities to grab the leg for possible takedowns. 

The Basic Leg Kick defense is a simple block that protects the whole side of your body. On the side of the body where your opponent kicks,you raise your knee up. At the same time you bring your elbow, on the same side, down to your thigh. This effectively blocks off your whole side from the opponent’s kick. The leg that is planted needs to be kept bent as well, to absorb impact and keep balance while you take the kick.

The elbow can block an attempted body kick that you misread, a misplaced leg kick, etc. However if it is a well aimed leg kick, it will connect somewhere around your shin. You can keep your lower leg loose and “catch” the kick near your foot, or take the kick higher by your knee. Getting kicked right in the shin is not optimal but is not the worst thing.

There is a derivation of this defense referred to as the Knee Block defense. Instead of keeping the block compact, your leg is put more outward and your knee, or very top of the shin, is specifically used to block the strike. This protects your body less but is a more pointed defense that can hurt your opponent more and leaves more opportunities for counter strikes.

Leg Kick Counters

Countering the leg kick can be a very useful technique to keep in your arsenal. Leg kicks are usually thrown quickly, but a quicker counter strike can catch your opponent very off guard.

One very effective counter, ironically  is a counter leg kick. When using the basic leg kick defense or a knee block defense your opponent gets stuck on one leg while kicking and replacing his that leg on the ground. By kicking this leg out you can easily bring your opponent tumbling down to the ground. Also you can use a caught leg to perform a quick crumble takedown. For some specifics on these counters to the leg kick CLICK HERE.z

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