In mixed martial arts, every weapon has the potential to be a show-stopper. But perhaps none are as exciting to witness as the kick.
Kicks can be used offensively and defensively, and they come in many forms – from flashy to downright simple. It all depends on who’s throwing them and the effect the fighter’s trying to cause.
Having said that, we look at some of the more popular martial arts kicks and how they are used effectively in MMA.
#1 The Question Mark Kick
The question mark kick is a tricky move that experienced athletes use to feint their opponents.
To set up the technique, fighters motion as if they’re going to throw a low or body kick. However, at the last second, they whip the kick out and up toward the head of their opponent, causing it to look like a question mark written upside down.
While it takes some practice to master, once athletes know how to properly apply this kick, it can become impossible to read.
If you don’t believe us, just ask ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon, who was on the receiving end of a question mark kick courtesy of #3-ranked kickboxer Walter Goncalves.
#2 The Head Kick
The head kick can connect with devastating affect and put fighters to sleep if landed on the right part of the head or neck.
The most famous head kick in recent history was delivered by Superbon Singha Mawynn to kickboxing GOAT Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan in their clash for the inaugural ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Title.
Superbon instantly elevated his status as one of the greatest kickboxers with the finish. However, the technique can be just as effective in MMA, especially against athletes who like to keep their hands low.
#3 The Low Kick
Low kicks can have serious consequences for athletes when left unchecked. “Chopping the tree” stops athletes in their tracks as they struggle to overcome the incoming damage to their thighs.
While it’s an unfortunate habit, some fighters stay heavy on their front leg or feel as though checking the kick takes too much energy, so they soak up the low kick instead. However, after taking too many of them, they’re no longer fighting just their opponent, but fighting the pain as well.
#4 The Push Kick
A kick that’s not only effective but also easy to use, the push kick – known as a “teep” in Muay Thai – causes damage to the stomach and keeps a fighter’s opponent at range.
British Muay Thai fighter and #1-ranked flyweight Jonathan “The General” Haggerty demonstrated his incredible push kick skills in his two bouts against Rodtang.
His kick was powerful enough to knock the Thai back several feet and cause him to lose his footing. In fact, “The General” landed several push kicks, including a few that hinged Rodtang’s head backward.
But this kick isn’t reserved just for Muay Thai fighters. MMA practitioners can also add this tool to their striking kit and use it effectively.
#5 The Body Kick
The roundhouse kick is found in all martial arts and for good reason. It’s a dangerous technique that can damage ribs and force an opponent to quit.
While it usually takes some time to rack up the damage, with enough power behind it, this kick can also end a fight instantly.
#6 The Spinning Back Kick
The spinning back kick, another deceptive move, can lure one’s opponent into a false sense of security – until they face a delivery they didn’t order.
Former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is the king of spinning back kicks, proven by his many highlight-reel dabs in ONE.
In his bout against Koetsu Okazaki, for example, the Filipino MMA fighter threw a spinning back kick that sent Okazaki flying into the Circle Wall.
#7 The Side Kick
A move that traditionally appears in karate or tae kwon do, the side kick is useful in MMA as well.
The side kick is not only good for keeping one’s foe at bay, it can also cause havoc to the abdomen while creating some much-needed space to set up other strikes.