Although mixed martial arts fights are composed of both striking and grappling, every fight starts off on the feet. As a mixed martial artist, in order to be effective, you have to possess a complete arsenal of offensive techniques. This means constantly upgrading both your ground game and standup.
A major component of striking in mixed martial arts is kicks. And when you first join an MMA gym, it won’t be long before you start learning the basic ones. Kicks can be used in a variety of ways, and it’s great to have a wide array of techniques at your disposal.
Since MMA is a seamless combination of various martial arts disciplines, naturally, the best techniques are brought forward and utilized in various ways. Like the experts say, fighting is the theatre of the unexpected, so you’ll have to be prepared with various techniques for any and all situations.
Furthermore, you’ll have to remain disciplined and diligent with your training so you can perfect these techniques and be able to use them as if they were second nature to you. From Muay Thai to taekwondo, there are certain kicking techniques that are best suited for action in the cage.
Want to take your kicking game to the next level? We’ve come up with some basic kicking techniques for you to try.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five basic kicks for MMA.
1) Roundhouse Kick
The roundhouse kick is one of the most basic kicks you’ll learn when first join a martial arts gym. Different versions of the roundhouse kick are present in multiple disciplines such as karate, Muay Thai, taekwondo, wushu, and kickboxing, among others. Furthermore, it’s one of the most widely used in MMA fights.
Most versions are used to constantly keep opponents at distance, deterring them from coming into close range and potentially walking into a fight-ending. The roundhouse kick is usually executed by swinging the leg in a semicircle, using momentum from centrifugal force to transfer the weight of the body and place heavy power behind the strike.
Inside and outside leg kicks are also considered roundhouse kicks, in addition to body kicks and head kicks.
2) Push Kick
Similar to the roundhouse kick, the push kick also has different iterations in various striking martial arts disciplines.
In Hapkido, it’s known as a thrust kick. In taekwondo, it’s the Mireo Chagi. In Muay Thai, it’s a teep kick. Bottom line, the push kick has many uses and applications. But the main function of the push kick is to create distance between yourself and your opponent.
The push kick is performed by lifting the rear leg forward and extending it with force, utilizing the thrust of the hips to generate power. The contact point is usually the heel or the ball of the foot, and the target is most commonly your opponent’s midsection.
It’s mostly used to keep opponents out of range, but in some cases, it’s a great offensive move as well.
3) Front Kick
Like the push kick, the front kick features a similar forward motion, but the intent is different. Where the push kick aims to create distance, the front kick seeks to deal damage.
It goes by the name of Mae Geri in karate, and the Ap Chagi in taekwondo, but the concept is all the same. Deliver the front kick to the head, and target the chin. The front kick, however, is very rarely executed in actual competition and requires tremendous skill to be used as an effective attack.
The best example of the front kick used in a professional setting is former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s 2011 knockout of Vitor Belfort. Silva feinted to the midsection and drove the front kick right up to Belfort’s head to score a quick first-round knockout.
4) Side Kick
The side kick is one of the most widely-used kicks in all of martial arts.
Thanks to karate-influenced fighters such as Stephen Thompson and legend Lyoto Machida, it has steadily gained a lot of popularity for usage in the professional mixed martial arts setting over recent years, also due to the influx of unorthodox striking styles in the cage. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones has also been known to use the side kick occasionally. In Asia, the side kick is used widely by wushu-influenced fighters.
The side kick is executed by planting the lead foot to create a solid base, and then extending the rear foot towards the side and extending it to make impact with the opponent. The contact point is the heel and usually targets the body.
5) Back Kick
Last but certainly not least is the back kick.
The back kick is featured in many martial arts disciplines such as kickboxing, Muay Thai, taekwondo, karate, and even kung fu. It’s a great kick for mixed martial arts competition because it is quick and usually hard to defend against.
There are many modifications to the back kick, including the spinning back kick and the hook kick. But the mechanics remain simple. It involves pivoting away from the opponent, while raising the knee of your striking leg to your chest, and then driving the kick toward your opponent.
Whether the target is the body or the head, the back kick is known for generating tremendous force and power. It can incapacitate any opponent instantly if it lands clean.