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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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What is Normal?

A superman punch can catch your opponent guessing. hopefully guessing wrong.

Unorthodox really just means straying from the norm. So in mixed martial arts striking what is considered to be an unorthodox strike. For my purposes an unorthodox strike is essentially anything that when you see the first thing that comes to mind is along the lines of, “damn didn’t see that coming.”

Striking is obviously a great way to end a fight is you have the power in your strikes to knockout the opponent. However sometimes a straight forward charge is not the best idea because your opponent is blocking/dodging your strikes or he is countering them because you are so predictable. By mixing up the pot a little bit and adding variety to your striking package you can surprise.and hopefully land strikes on your opponent

The Strikes

Sometimes your regular punch and kick combinations just wont scratch the surface of an opponent. Whether he is too quick or too defensive, throwing ineffective strikes is just a waste of energy. However maybe try mixing up your striking game by implementing some that catch your opponent so off guard that they cant dodge or defend against it.

To name a few unorthodox strikes that are seen more commonly seen (oxymoronic i know) there are things like the spinning back fist/back elbow, The superman punch, the flying knee, spinning kicks, and other moves that involve unpredictability and speed. These strikes are seen pretty often watching professional mixed martial arts and when they are landed it is easy to see a quick unexpected strike’s results on the opponent.

Why Are They So Effective

It is basic knowledge that in a fight you generally want to stay balanced and on your feet to have as much control over yourself as possible. That is why it probably isn’t smart for someone to just throw a tornado kick and expect it to be effective. To effectively strike unpredictably it looks like your out of control but in reality you are in complete control, controlled chaos. Striking like this takes practice and training not just blind luck.

There are really two main advantages given by this kind of striking. First is the fact that a lot of them increase the power of your strike. and type of spinning strike adds a bunch of rotational kinetic energy to the strike making it much more effective. This is especially the case for types of spinning kicks because the length of the leg leads to even greater speeds during rotation.

Secondly there is the element of surprise  You become much less predictable if you start spinning around instead of standing still in front of your opponent. There are ways to make your opponent give himself up for a strike as well. For example, if an opponent is being very defensive a superman punch might be the move that drops his guard for just long enough to get the punch to connect.

You tell me if this kid saw the power of this kick coming

I mean i clearly saw this flying knee coming when it happened i don’t know how this guy didn’t…

Are We Sure?

Unorthodox is a relative term. What might be abnormal for one form of competition might not be all that ridiculous to another. In karate and taekwondo many of strikes thrown probably look unorthodox to most people. However the effectiveness of an unexpected strike remains pretty consistent if it lands on the opponent, because usually you cant block what you didn’t see coming. But practicing and knowing when to throw an unorthodox strike can be a useful weapon in your arsenal.